1. My Phone
3. My Tablet
3. Any Computer I am logged into <- This one is special
In addition I can call other people using any of those devices and pay nothing for the privilege.
They don't want the regulatory exposure, and frankly, Google doesn't either.
Buying a DID and doing call forwarding is ridiculously trivial to do. You can replicate Google Voice on your own servers in 10 minutes using Asterisk or other Open-source projects.
Disclaimer: I'm the community manager for 2600hz, a company that builds an open-source stack for Telecom applications. You can mirror this functionality in 10 minutes using our stack. You can also do this with Plivo easily. It's not rocket science.
I am very happy with Google Voice so far, at least on an Android phone, but I from what I remember, iOS doesn't integrate with it as deeply. Also, I would love to be able to somehow ditch my "minutes" and only use the data connection for everything, but I am not sure if that's even possible today without carrying around a mobile hotspot.
Edit: also, GV gives me free text messaging. Can I replicate that with my own setup and how much will it cost? Do I have to use something like Twilio or Tropo for that and pay per message? What about MMS? Can I have those forwarded to my email?
If you choose to answer these, thanks in advance.
Edit 2: Looking at AT&T, they have decently priced data plans for things like tablets and gaming devices . I understand that I can get a SIM card from them telling them I'll have a tablet on their network. Can I then buy an unlocked iPhone from Apple and do this type of setup you are talking about using SIP and something else for SMS and save money?
OS Integration is possible only through 3rd applications (unless you have android which has a native SIP stack on the device) like Groundwire or Bria. It uses megabytes and I believe, if you're using G.711 (the normal cell codec) you'll consume data at 64kbps (peak). I've never gone over on using it but YMMV.
iOS integration is tricky because of the "keep-alive" strategies designers have to use. The VoIP app has to be able to notify on inbound calls, but that is usually only possible when the app is in the foreground. There are some cool hacks to get around this (I like the groundwire message personall).
Text messaging is dirt cheap; many providers will give you unlimited usage for very cheap (I've seen it as low as $.40 per DID per month). You could use twilio, but you'd be better off with tropo since it's more open (sort of, not really the time or place for that sort of debate).
Edit 2: Yes you can.
I think I answered everything :). You can do all of this for free (except for usage) if you install the 2600hz kazoo stack (here's the Chef-Solo install instruction set: https://2600hz.atlassian.net/wiki/display/docs/Deploying+Kaz...). You can also do a hell of a lot more than just call forwarding :).
We're fully open-source, it's free, and it has all of the APIs you're looking for when building kickass mashups.
A hosted version should be more widely available in Q1 next year.
If you have a corporate account, talk to your IT guy about hooking you up. I don't know any other way :/...
I saw the pricing. So, for a hypothetical 500 minute plan we are talking about $4.95 for these minutes + 235 MBs of data, plus $5-10 for a DID + $30 for the AT&T 3 GB plan + $0.40-1 for SMS. So, $45/month I can have complete control over my phone? That's not bad at all.
Two more questions: First, does any of this support E911 or whatever is used for cell phones? I know Google Voice doesn't do 911, but if this is going to be my only phone with only a data plan, that becomes more important.
Also how is the reliability of this setup compared to conventional networks? What are the chances that I'll be stuck somewhere and need to call 911 without the ability to do so?
Re reliability: VOIP, especially over a data plan, is not as reliable as conventional networks. I wouldn't rely on it for emergency situations. I switched from landlines a number of years ago at home and I've been at the mercy of my cable company outages.
FYI, I run a dedicated Freeswitch box and my providers are Flowroute and Vitelity.
There are a variety of reasons why e911 sucks, not the least of which is the fact that if you don't populate it, the calls go to the Nation 911 hotline, which is slower due to not being local :/. Don't even get started on the topic of SIP based e911 on Softphones, it's a joke.
Flowroute and Vitelity are awesome; in particular the CEO of flowroute is a smart dude. Bayan was on VUC last week talking about the future of service provider networks (specifically that he envisions a world with SBC's). That's interesting, to say the least.
VoIP over a data plan is as reliable as your connection. That being said, use G.729 if you can as the lower bitrate holds up better over GSM/LTE networks. That being said, don't rely on it solely as there is no SLA on packets carried over the public internet.
By the way, Kazoo screenshots look nice, definitely going to check it out.
A lot of the transformations layer7 firewalls apply to packets, particularly SIP packets, can cause unexpected side effects with an extremely time sensitive application like fax. In short, moving packets involves buffering on some level, and fax machines are intolerant of any jitter or delay. Therefore, delivering media in t.38 becomes an exercise in conflict mitigation.
In summary, t.38 is active on a lot of providers who don't talk about it because heterogenous equipment might not play nice.
~$1.00 for a DID
~$1.00 for SMS
~$30 data plan = ~$37 a month. That's more like it.
e911 is available depending on your DID provider. It's $2 a month from us at the moment.
Reliability is dependent on the stability of your data connection. I would not consider this 100% reliable in the woods, for example.
This is something we're trying to work on, but I think it's only possible to solve by COLO-ing with the Carriers; not cheap.
If they're willing to burn the cash (and Apple certainly has a lot lying around), they could. Google isn't a telco and they're paying CLECs (competitive local exchange carriers) for every phone number and for terminating every minute of every call that a Google Voice user makes. This makes Google Voice quite different from their other products - unlike gmail for instance, most of the Google Voice product actually comes from other companies and most of the per-user cost is probably going directly to these companies rather than to their own infrastructure and software development costs. Yes, the Google Voice software and infrastructure is still important but just not to the same degree as their other products. I often wonder if this is the reason why they only commit to making Google Voice free for one year at a time.
Google only keeps them deep in the Google Talk app, and I bet most people using Android phones have no idea they are even there, so it's almost like they don't even exist. Google needs to do a better job of deeply integrating VOIP into Android, and I don't care that carriers won't like it. Same goes for their "Google Voice" service.
Partial sidenote: If I were, say, Yahoo, and looking to do a few big projects, this is one I'd tackle. Google has shown people will use it if it's simple, but there's not wide adoption. Yahoo Phone could supplant GVoice and things like SnapChat in one fell swoop.
To be fair, I don't think I've ever sent or received an MMS. I'm pretty sure it's not that common, so most people probably don't really miss it.
Maybe it's that I live in southern Georgia (though in a city of 77k) but I tried explaining to people a few times that "if you're going to send a picture or video, send it to my email." The reply was usually the same, and hostile.
"I don't know how to send things to email on my phone!"
"You just type in my email. Or choose it from the contact list you chose my number from."
"Nevermind. I don't know why you have to make it complicated." And this is from 26 year olds who grew up with computers and use them daily.
You do know this is the standard that is used for transferring photos via text message? Even my not-smartphone-savvy friends use this. MORE of them use it, it seems.
I think they're working on it.
It's annoying how many services are US-only.
If you find it annoying, move.
I don't know what exactly you're drinking, but there's plenty of good beer and tea in SF and other large US cities.
On the other hand, for a person with significant ties to London (or other city or region in Europe) - family, career, lifestyle, whatever - it seems a bit much to move to the US because you get cheaper phone calls.
Other things being equal, I can't imagine that anyone would move from London to San Francisco because of free Gmail phone calls. (It reads like your comment is precisely about other things not being equal.)
While GMail/Google Voice calls are free, they are much more susceptible to noise, echo, etc due to the main codec (G.711) that they use. If you have a newer smartphone with a good 4G or WiFi connection you may be able to get by with this, but in my personal experience I had to move to Skype (and be willing to pay a few dollars a month) to get people to want to talk with me for any extended period of time.
With your homies, probably not a big deal. For a sales call or interview, or when you and your SO are trying to arrange to meet at a hospital due to an emergency, yeah you want the clearer call.
Disclaimer: I'm the community manager for http://www.2600hz.com the makers of Kazoo.
So I only ever use it when there's a problem with my mobile.
While this may seem like semantics, it is the basis of communications, that we all agree on the definition of certain words, otherwise we have linguistic chaos.
So, yes, while it doesn't require any monetary payment (free), there are strings attached.
I know we think that paying makes us customers and they will care about us. However, it probably does not apply to naturally monopolistic markets of traditional/cell telephony and Internet services providers.
Additionally: "Google does not claim any ownership in any of the content that you or your callers upload, transmit or store in your Google Voice account. We will not use any of your content for any purpose except to provide you with the Service."
Come to think of it, does anyone know of where google makes money here? Is it just international calls? Even the voice transcription training probably isn't that lucrative, because you have to have users click on a message and say "Donate this voicemail" for it to be used as training data.
Who in their right mind would give something completely free, no strings attached?
Start acknowledging? I'm pretty sick of people mumbling "If you're not paying for a product, you're a product" every time Google, et al releases a free service.