Ran across a post on The Consumerist today rounding up “Three Ways To Use Google Voice on Your iPhone.” Even though I place and receive very few calls, I do have a Google Voice number and an iPhone, so I gave it a once over. First method uses an app to dial out to Google Voice and enter all the login and call out codes automatically. Second turns your contacts into Safari bookmarks that can be used to call out. Third is to use the Google Voice website, which unfortunately is still not iPhone optimized.
I was a bit disappointed by the offerings but opted to give them a try. That lead to further disappointment. All are simple enough, but when I do make calls from my iPhone, I do it through the phone or contacts apps. Using a separate app, a Safari bookmark (even one pinned to the home screen), or the website weren’t going to cut it for me. That’s when I figured out how to dial out to Google Voice via the iPhone contacts. Read on for details…
First, credit where it’s due, I pieced this method together from the instructions on how to do it from the Card Caller app, then watching how it worked. That’s the first option The Consumerist presented. Turns out, calling out through Google Voice is pretty much the same as calling out through a calling card, and it can be done straight from your contacts with the magic of a few commas.
Here’s the basic formula: YOURGVNUM,,PINN,2,DESTNUMBER#
The commas are pauses, which you can add by tapping the “+*#” key.
For example, if my GV number was 808-SUMOCAT (786-6228), which unfortunately it is not, my PIN was 1234 (same as my luggage combination), and I wanted to call Warner at 540-CROCKER (276-2537) through my GV number, I’d add this as one of his numbers in my contacts:
(808) 786-6228 ,,1234,2,5402762537#
Basically, that would call out to my Google Voice number (808 786-6228), pause, log me in (1234), pause, hit “2″ to place an outgoing call, pause, then dial Warner’s number (5402762537), followed by the pound key (#). Takes a lot longer than dialing straight out from my phone, but it dials it straight from my contacts automatically.
While the formula looks complicated, the best part is you only need to set it up once. Just copy the part before the destination number and paste it in front of any contact number, remembering to add the pound sign (#) at the end. You can do it all from your iPhone, Outlook or probably whatever other contact manager you use with the iPhone. The iPhone reads both commas and the letter “p” as pauses.
I tested this out with a few calls to my wife whose office uses an automated system to route calls to extensions (Thanks, hon). Using pauses, I created a whole string to automatically call out through Google Voice to her number and then dial her extension. Again, the dialing takes a while, but it’s all automated once I hit her contact in my favorites. I also set up a contact for GV so I can dial out from there to any number, as well as one to GOOG-411. That pause is so useful.
Not sure how many of my contacts I want to set up with this automatic GV dialout. Dialing out adds a lot of time to the process. But given the block against GV apps on the iPhone, I may do it for all of them out of spite.