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Android How-To: Google Voice Free Text & Voicemail

Ever wondered what Android’s Google Voice App is and just how to use it? Can you receive free text messages on a tablet or do you need a phone? Android by Google, is now the number one portable electronics operating system. At WorldStart, we always keep our readers updated on the latest and most popular tech, so we’ll be doing a multi-week series on how to use Android. If you don’t own an Android device yet, it’s still worth reading. Google gives away the source code to Android. That means it’s showing up on more devices every day.

Part 8: Free Text & VM on Google Voice

Google Voice is free App available from the Google Play Store.  It allows you to send and receive free text messages and view your Google Voice voicemail. Google Voice is a service from Google which allows you to make and receive VOIP calls, send and receive text and have voicemail from your computer or smartphone. You can read more about Google Voice and sign up (you’ll even be given a free personal telephone number for people to text/call) by going to http://voice.google.com [1].

The Google Voice app for Android is especially useful for tablet owners since most tablets do not have built-in phones and can’t send or receive texts. I’ve been using the app for the last week to send text messages to friends and it’s been a joy. The interface looks scary at first, but the layout is pretty simple.

  1. Label Selector: Let’s you open your inbox, voicemail, text or other labels.
  2. Message Count: This number indicates the number of unread messages.
  3. Compose: Allows you to compose a new message. 
  4. Refresh: Refreshes your screen and updates information from Google’s servers.
  5. Search: Allows you to search text, voicemail transcripts and call logs.
  6. Call: If you have a supported phone connected to your voice account, this lets you place calls through Google Voice. This feature mostly works on phones and not tablets.
  7. Settings: Allows you to access your balance (for international calls, international text), settings and help.
  8. Message List: Shows you a list of your messages and voicemails that you can click on.
  9. New Message Notification: Shows you a notification when a new message arrives.

To create a new text message you simply click on Compose. A window will appear asking you to type in the phone number you wish to text in the To field. Type your message in the Type to compose field. If you tap on a message you’ve already received, it will show the messages in conversational view (as in the example above). In this view the phone number the text came from is displayed.  (1) the message list with indicators for who said what (2) an arrow to send a message (3) once you’ve typed in a reply in the Type to compose field (4).

Another fantastic feature of the App is the Voicemail functionality. If you receive a new voicemail you can listen to it in the voicemail label. Tap on the label selector in the upper left hand corner and tap voicemail. Your messages will appear and you can tap on one to listen. You’ll be shown the number the voicemail came from. (1) be offered a transcript of the voicemail is Google Voice was able to transcribe it (about 95% of the time it can do this after a few minutes) (3) be  given simple play controls (4) and the option to delete the voicemail (2).

Google Voice will also install a home screen widget into your Widgets section of the App List. This widget will show you recent messages and allow you to create new messages and open recent messages.

Google Voice may look complicated at first, and I’ll admit it will take an hour or two to get familiar with it, however the benefits of free unlimited text messaging and free voicemail are undeniable.