The quest for making free calls over WiFi with an Android device is not a new topic, but if you’ve gone down this road you’re probably familiar with apps like sipdroid or csipsimple. If those two names are familiar then you also know you had to deal with Google Voice Callback, pbxes, or SIP accounts and possibly some other forwarding trickery to get the app to work. It’s possible that you’ve even tried to set these apps up and failed after not understanding exactly what needed to be done. Enter GrooVe IP, where all you need is a Google Voice account to get started. If you like simple and something that just “works” and works well, hit up the break for more.
GrooVe IP works similar to making calls from Gmail by connecting directly to Google Voice to make and receive calls. This means that all you’ll need to use the app is a Google Voice account that is linked to a Gmail account and you’re good to go. After installing GrooVe IP, you’ll simply need to login with your Google Voice credentials. You’ll also need to go into your Google Voice settings and check off forwarding to Google Chat. Doesn’t get much easier than that right? It’s recommended that you sign out of Google Chat or Google Talk while using the app, but leaving Google Talk signed in on my Android device never posed any issues. I also have my Google Voice number forwarded to other places besides Google Chat and this posed no issues when receiving a call.
You’ll have the choice of either using GrooVe IP’s dialer or your native dialer to place calls. When using your own dialer, you’ll be prompted to use GrooVe IP or the mobile network itself. Personally, I prefer the look of the native dialer and there didn’t seem to be any loss of functionality by doing so. Incoming calls however will use GooVe IPs system, but there is nothing wrong with that system as everything from the dial pad to options like Mute and Blutooth worked as expected.
At home my 3G service is a bit shaky, so I am going to sick to WiFI call quality for review purposes. A feature that I found very useful was that if 3G calling is turned off within the app (which it is by default), GrooVe IP only connects when WiFi is connected. Since I have no cell service in my home, if already running in the background, GrooVe IP connects and logs in once a WiFi signal is connected. You can also set a preference for your native dialer to always use GrooVe IP to place a call if you are connected to WiFi. The call quality was absolutely fantastic, and to take my own word for it, I placed calls to myself on another line to be able to hear the call quality first hand. I also made a large number of phone calls to others well over 45min in length without any dropped calls or voice transmission issues. In the audio settings you’ll find plenty of options for echo cancellation, microphone gain, ringtones to use for contacts. There is also a troubleshooting section you’ll find more options to tweak any issues you may have using a tablet to place calls or to keep the screen on during a call.
A last huge positive for this app is that the developer is very active in both communication and app fixes. Also note that since GrooVe IP is connecting directly to Google’s servers, both incoming and outgoing calls will use your GV number.
So, if you’re looking for a solid WiFi calling solution and want to just log in and call, then this is the app for you. It’s available in the market here or by the QR code below for a one time fee of $4.99. This should be worth every penny for someone short on minutes or that doesn’t have solid cell service while out and about or at home. Don’t forget that a SIP solution can be a huge pain for people to figure out and configure. Be sure to let us know what you think.
[via android market]