Using Google Voice to Manage Both Your iOS and Android Devices

 

I am in the minority here. I am currently using two different smartphones. As of now, I own an iPhone 4S and an unlocked Galaxy Nexus. While I love my iPhone and as my co-host Jordan Patterson on the iOSDocked podcast would say, "If I was being held at gunpoint", and had to choose one phone over the other, I would easily choose the iPhone without hesistation. Currently, I use the iPhone as my daily driver 5 days a week from 4am until I finish up my workday at about 7pm. My work day is a long day and I depend on the iPhone, it's vast library of amazing apps and the spectacular battery life on that device to manage my operations. So why do I have a Google branded flagship device sitting around the house? It's simple, I love tech. I love to watch mobile platforms grow and develop. I like to experience technology outside of this iOS universe I live in. But managing multiple devices isn't easy. I do use the evenings and the weekends to become more familiar with the Android platform. But part of getting familiar with a new platform means putting the iPhone down. This brings me to the subject of this post which will more than likely turn into a series of posts as my experience using the top 2 mobile operating systems continues. 

How do I manage two different devices? How can I be sure that any critical information coming to me on the iPhone comes to the Nexus as well? What about phone calls? What about text messages?

Tweets, Facebook posts, Google+ mentions and even Path notifications are coming in on both devices. How is that? It's all web based. But a phone's core applications like voice calls and text messaging are tied to the actual phone. So how do I fix that? I had to move those service to the web. Here is the solution I would like to share with you. 

What you first need to do is open up a Google Voice account. Set up your account and go into the settings and make sure you set up all your mobile phones to be forwarding phones. In other words, if some one calls you on one phone, and you don't anwser, it will forward to your other phones before going to voicemail. This allows you to use a different device without the risk of missing an important phone call. This is an elegant solution and Google Voice is a staple for tech enthusiasts who enjoy using multiple platforms. When siging up for Google Voice, your Google number can also be used for text messaging. Google Voice makes good use of the forwarded texting also. If you decide to (recommended), you can set up your Google Voice to be your primary voicemail. That way if you do miss a call, the voicemail left will be transcribed and forwarded as a text to all the phones you have set up in your Google Voice account. Voicemails can also be set up to transcribe to email for you. 

Now things get tricky. How to do you get text messages people send to your iPhone's number to forward to your other phones? Don't bother looking. There are no apps in the App Store that will do it and don't waste time calling your carrier either as they won't be able to help you either. But there are a couple of ways to deal with this. There is the easy way and the not so easy way. Here are your two options:

1) The easy way: Jailbreak your device. I am not about to turn this post into a how-to tutorial on jailbreaking but be assured that with a little effort and the internet at your disposal, you can figure it out. Then download BiteSMS. This is a text messaging app on steroids that gives you every feature imaginable when it comes to SMS. But the feature you are looking for is text forwarding. Simply set that up. Enter the mobile number you wish to have your text messages forwarded to, which should be your Google Voice number. The reason you want to have it set to your Google Voice number is because when you text from your secondary device, you don't want to introduce your contacts to the secondary mobile phone number. This would only create mass confusion as you would then have two cell numbers and a Google Voice number to deal with. The whole idea here is to slowly get your contacts used to your Google Voice number as your primary number. Setting this up will help you with that. The ultimate goal being one number for all calls and text messages. Since you are already jailbroken, you should also download these two utilities:

GV Phone Extensions 

GV SMS Extensions

What this will do is force all outgoing voice calls and outgoing text messages on your iPhone to use your Google Voice account. This will also help aid you in getting people switched over to contacting you via your Google Voice number because that will be the number they see on the incoming call and text message. There is also option to attach a signature to the outgoing text message so that when people see the unrecognized number, they see your name attached and know who it is contacting them. What is awesome about installing these two hacks is that they work using the built-in Phone and Messages app on your iPhone. So the changes happen behind the scenes. If so desired (which is also recommended), you will want to let BiteSMS replace your built in Messages app. BiteSMS works great with these extension tweaks and what's even more beatiful is iMessage is still fully functional when making these changes. 

So that's the easy way. At this point, you can pick up any iPhone or Android device you have set up using Google Voice and you can be assured that you are getting all your calls and text messages. There are many other things you can do that will help assist you in managing two different platforms and I will discuss those in the near future. But if you want to start somewhere, getting Google Voice set up is the way to go. Who says Google isn't open? I can't remember the last time I saw an iOS app in the Android Market.

Oh and by the way, the second and not so easy way to to make sure that you get all your phone calls and text messages? Contact every person you know who has your number and ask them to change their contact information on you. That shouldn't be to hard.

Yuck.

Now if only I could get a Windows Phone setup on Google Voice......