Enterprise Software optimize

Turn your Android tablet into a phone with GrooVe IP

Jack Wallen shows you how to turn your Android tablet into a phone with the help of the GrooVe IP application.

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.

Installation

As you might expect, installing GrooVe IP is simple. Just follow these steps:

  1. Open up the Google Play Store
  2. Search for "groove ip" (no quotes)
  3. Tap GrooVe IP Lite (or the Full version if you're sure you want to immediately purchase it)
  4. Tap Download
  5. 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.

Usage

Using 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:

  1. Open GrooVe IP
  2. Tap the settings menu (upper left corner)
  3. Tap Native Dialer Options (Figure C)
  4. Tap Built-in Dialer Preference
  5. In the new overlay, select which option you want as the default action
Figure C

Here you can adjust all GrooVe IP settings, including configuration options for troubleshooting.

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:

  1. Log into your Google Voice account
  2. Click on Settings
  3. Click the check box associated with Google Chat (Figure D)
  4. Test incoming calls again
Figure D

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:

  1. Go to Settings
  2. Tap Wireless & networks
  3. Tap Wi-Fi sleep policy
  4. 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.

About

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.

7 comments
Angela4391
Angela4391

I just received an Archos Tablet 80 9G - however I am not computer savy. Can someone tell me how to connect to wi fi without a plan and it costing so much. I am retired and on a limited budget. Thank you, Angela

bill.fisk
bill.fisk

While this may be old hat for some people. I had not heard of this great piece of software that allows me to get more functionality out of my Transformer Pad. I love it. Thank you for the tip about this App. Much appreciated as always to read your insight.

simpleybill
simpleybill

It would be nice if magic jack integrated seamlessly with an Android phone to give me the smoothness of cell phone but one that runs over WiFi. Something that also would run like a cell phone on a tablet. Then if everyone left their WiFi open (like I do for my neighbors) we could fight back against the over priced cell phone plans.

technomom_z
technomom_z

Can't all smartphones/tablets do this? This is pretty old news, I've been using Google Voice and GrooveIP for well over a year now. I would imagine this is pretty easy to do with iPhone as well, right? If you still have an old Android phone around that doesn't have voice or data service, this will help that become a usable Wifi VOIP phone as well. I keep my old HTC Incredible handy and it serves as another house handset since I forward my Ooma home number to Google Voice.

HAL 9000
HAL 9000

Generally speaking WiFi is local and Wireless is a Phone Plan. Phone Plans are expensive and WiFi is not so you connect to your Local WiFi and it costs you nothing more than the cost of powering the WiFi Device and your ISP connection. If you want to use the 3/4G Phone Network that is expensive and requires a Data Plan from one of the Telco's. Though there are also Security Issues if you use a Public WiFi Hot Spot as it is possible that someone else can read your Device and Data Transfer. WiFi relies on the 802.11 Spectrum and the Phone 3/4G System is a different kettle of fish. Col