While the iPad is great for using Skype or FaceTime, or for chatting with your friends via iMessage or instant messaging, one feature that is notably missing is the ability to make phone calls. All is not lost, however – where there’s a will, there’s a way.
GigaOM provides a clever tutorial on how to use Google Voice and a couple of iOS apps to replicate a phone connection, and allow you to make or receive calls directly from your iPad. Here’s how to make it work:
In order to make this work, you’ll need the following:
- Google Voice account: Google Voice is a free service for all Google account users. If you’re not already using Google Voice, simply log in to your Google account, head to the Google Voice sign up page, and follow the steps to get your own Google Voice number.
- GV Connect: Google currently doesn’t offer an official Google Voice client for the iPad, but a third-party app called GV Connect ($2.99, App Store link) can get the job done (and arguably better than the native Google Voice iPhone app). The app does cost $2.99, but in my opinion is well worth it.
- Talkatone: This free ad-supported app provides the final piece of the puzzle, allowing you to actually make VOIP calls from your iPad. Once Talkatone (free, App Store link) is set up, it can be controlled through GV Connect.
Making and Receiving Calls
Once your Google Voice account is set up, and both of the above apps are downloaded, set up each app by providing your Google Voice account login information. That’s it – you’re now ready to make and receive calls. Follow the below directions to get started, and to make and receive your first phone call on the iPad!
- Launch GV Connect
- Enter Settings, and make sure the “Start Calls From” option is set to Google Talk
- Make sure the “Call using Talkatone” setting is enabled
- Finally, to make a call, simply click the telephone icon in the upper left corner and dial your number
It’s worth noting that, while it’s possible to make calls over 3G using this method, call quality can be spotty. It’s recommended that you use WiFi in order to make calls.
Receiving Calls Enabling your iPad to receive calls is a matter of forwarding your incoming Google Voice calls to your iPad – just follow the below steps and you’ll be able to receive calls in no time.
- Launch GV Connect
- Enter Settings, and make sure the “Call Forwarding” option is set to Google Talk
- Double check to make sure you are logged in to your Google account through Talkatone.
- Wait for an incoming call, or test this yourself by calling your Google Voice number from another device.
Now anyone who calls your Google Voice number will automatically be forwarded to your iPad. And don’t worry about missing calls – Google Voice automatically keeps a record of your calls, and allows callers to leave messages.
Notes, Tips and Suggestions
If you already have a Google Voice account that forwards to your cell phone, office phone or somewhere else, it might be worth setting up a second Google account (and a second Google Voice account) just for your iPad.
You can use a standard Apple headset with microphone to handle your calls. You can also use a Bluetooth headset, but you won’t be able to answer calls using the headset – you’ll have to answer them manually with your iPad.