The biggest difference between the Android phone and the Android tablet (other than size) is the ability to make phone calls. However, there are a variety of video calling apps on the market. Everyone knows Skype, but when your Android device is already seamlessly integrated with Google, why not take advantage of Google Voice? With the help of GrooVe IP, your Android tablet can use your Google Voice number as if it were a VoIP phone.
There are two versions of GrooVe IP:
- Lite - free, but with advertisements
- Full - $4.99 (USD)
The Full version offers the following features:
- Calls over a mobile data connection (not just Wi-Fi)
- Native dialer integration
- Proximity sensor support
- Change sign in status or sign in invisible
I recommend giving the Lite version a try, and if you decide that it works for you, purchase the Full version.
What you need:
- Android tablet
- GrooVe IP application
- Google Voice account
- Bluetooth earpiece (optional)
You should know that GrooVe IP can only work with Google Voice accounts that are linked to gmail or apps.google.com. Also know that GrooVe IP uses 1.2 MB per minute for voice calling, so if you have Wi-Fi available, definitely use it!
Now, on with the installation and usage.
As you might expect, installing GrooVe IP is simple. Just follow these steps:
- Open up the Google Play Store
- Search for "groove ip" (no quotes)
- Tap GrooVe IP Lite (or the Full version if you're sure you want to immediately purchase it)
- Tap Download
- Tap Accept & download
Once installed, you'll find GrooVe IP in the App Drawer or on your home screen. You're now ready to start using this outstanding VoIP tool.
UsageUsing GrooVe IP is as straightforward as it gets. When you first fire up the app, you'll be required to login to your Google Apps (gmail) account (Figure A). Figure A
Logging into GrooVe IP on a Verizon-branded Samsung Galaxy Tab.Once you log in, you can immediately start placing calls using the GrooVe IP dialer (Figure B). Figure B
Tap out the number and tap the green phone button to dial.
If you purchase the Full version of GrooVe IP, you can also use the Android built-in dialer, instead of having to open up the GrooVe IP app to make calls. By default, your native dialer will ask you if you want to place a call using GrooVe IP or your native network. You can easily change this behavior in the settings by following these steps:
- Open GrooVe IP
- Tap the settings menu (upper left corner)
- Tap Native Dialer Options (Figure C)
- Tap Built-in Dialer Preference
- In the new overlay, select which option you want as the default action
Here you can adjust all GrooVe IP settings, including configuration options for troubleshooting.
One of the most common issues with GrooVe IP is incoming calls. If you find that you're not receiving incoming calls, the issue is not with GrooVe IP, but with your Google Voice account. You must have incoming calls set to forward to Google Chat. Here's how:
- Log into your Google Voice account
- Click on Settings
- Click the check box associated with Google Chat (Figure D)
- Test incoming calls again
This setting alone should solve the incoming call conundrum.
If you find the call quality dropping over time, you'll need to visit the Keep Alive setting for Wi-Fi. When your tablet goes into hibernation, it could be set to shut off Wi-Fi to save power. This needs to be unset to ensure consistent call quality. Simply follow these steps:
- Go to Settings
- Tap Wireless & networks
- Tap Wi-Fi sleep policy
- Tap Never
Understand that this setting will drain your battery much more quickly. You can always set and unset this feature as needed for GrooVe IP calls, or set it to Never when plugged in and only make calls when your tablet is plugged in and charging.
There's no reason why your Android tablet shouldn't have all the features of your Android smartphone. If you're on the go, you'll appreciate only having to bother with one device. And since your tablet and your phone are both connected to your Google account, you can also easily share contacts, making this tool invaluable.
Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website getjackd.net.