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Use Google's Nexus 7 Tablet As a VoIP Phone, For Free 91

Posted by timothy
from the talk-to-me-baby dept.
Lauren Weinstein writes with a link to this short-and-sweet explanation: "I don't usually do 'how-to' postings, and I'll have much more comprehensive discussions of Android 'Jelly Bean' and the Google Nexus 7 tablet later — there are some really fascinating implications to how that ecosystem is developing. But since quite a few people have been asking me if it's possible to use the Wi-Fi-based Nexus 7 as a phone, I thought I'd scribble out this quickie guide. In short, yes, even though the N7 doesn't obviously have phone-related user interfaces, you can use the N7 as a phone for both outgoing and incoming calls via VoIP, and this can be accomplished completely for free via Google Voice accounts."
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Use Google's Nexus 7 Tablet As a VoIP Phone, For Free

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  • by HycoWhit (833923) on Thursday August 16, 2012 @11:14AM (#41011443)
    So you meant to tell me a device with a microphone, speaker, and wi-fi connection can be used to make VOIP calls!! Wow--what will folks figure out next? When you guys get around to discovering stuff like Skype, Google Voice, etc--let me keep sleeping...
    • by SQLGuru (980662)

      Yeah.....this post seemed like a lot of "duh" to anyone who's heard of any of these products.

      • by Shompol (1690084)
        "hearing of products" and finding a practical solution that works is not one and the same. For example, I would love to use Nexus 7 as a phone, but it is probably not practical at this point because I frequently have voice-only connection where I travel. Let me demonstrate why your argument does not work:

        A man landed on moon today. He got there by strapping a rocket booster engine to his lawn chair.

        Yeah.....this post seemed like a lot of "duh" to anyone who's heard of any of these products.

        • by tonejava (772709)

          I'd still feel stupid holding the thing up to my ear...

          • by jmorris42 (1458) *

            > I'd still feel stupid holding the thing up to my ear...

            Then don't. Either use it as a speakerphone, attach a wired headset or use it's bluetooth capabilities. It isn't a Kindle Fire ya know. The Nexus has both a microphone and bluetooth.

            I have always thought it was stupid to have a product with a cell data only link when adding the ability to place and receive calls is just a software limitation imposed by the carriers.

            The problem with VoIP is battery life. My phone can idle for days on the cell to

          • by Shompol (1690084)
            You mean, like this? [androidpit.com]
        • "hearing of products" and finding a practical solution that works is not one and the same

          In this particular case in a given context it is. It's not like you need to "hack" the device in any way, it's all stock functionality. Google Voice is available in the app store, and advertised as a VoIP app.

    • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Thursday August 16, 2012 @11:34AM (#41011765) Journal

      So you meant to tell me a device with a microphone, speaker, and wi-fi connection can be used to make VOIP calls!! Wow--what will folks figure out next? When you guys get around to discovering stuff like Skype, Google Voice, etc--let me keep sleeping...

      Unfortunately, the 'news' in this story is more along the lines of "Wow, consumer electronics device with microphne, speaker, and wi-fi connection not cryptographically crippled so hard that you can't do obviously useful things with it!"...

      In our delightsome world of carrier locked handsets, mandatory app stores, and rampant consoleitis, the fact that a device shows signs of matching its technical capabilities, not its profit maximizing capabilities, is beginning to count as news...

    • by KingSkippus (799657) on Thursday August 16, 2012 @11:35AM (#41011785) Homepage Journal

      You must have missed the "for free" part. Skype charges for calls to POTS lines, and Google Voice doesn't allow you to make outgoing calls directly from the tablet, though it will allow you to call a phone where you are and then dial from that phone out to your contacts.

      You can argue that this might not be earth-shattering news, but it's not like what the article is about is something that is as intuitively obvious as you're trying to make it out to be.

      • There are many apps that do exactly what the article says. I used one on my iPod touch years ago. I also have a device attached to my home phone line that also uses Google voice for calls.

        This may be news for some, but not news for the vast majority of readers of this site.

      • Using GrooveIP to make free GV phone calls over wifi has been well-known among nerds for a while now. In fact, the best way to do it would be to buy a Bluetooth headset so you don't have to hold the stupid thing against your face.

        • I recently tried that and apparently the bluetooth interferes with the wifi and call quality becomes terrible (not that it was that great to begin with). Bluetooth is barely supported in GrooveIP to begin with. You get what you pay for.
      • by fnj (64210)

        Google Voice doesn't allow you to make outgoing calls directly from the tablet

        Can you elaborate on that? I don't understand the mechanism. I can certainly make outgoing calls directly from my PC and my laptop. How is the tablet any different?

        • by Disfnord (1077111)

          When google voice first came out, you couldn't make outgoing calls. GP probably still thinks that's the case (which everyone else knows is not).

    • by camperslo (704715)

      If they really want to make waves with free, the devices should include a free low-bandwidth net access package. Google owns or has contracted for enough fiber that they could probably do that in many places. With income from a store function, Amazon probably could too.

      Really free VoIP seems no more far fetched than the free (ad supported) PCs or net access of 20 years ago. Wasn't NetZero one of those?

      Some of that television spectrum taken from us should have been made available to support free or nearly

      • by jmorris42 (1458) *

        > reminder to self: look up subsidies AT&T and others are getting for rural broadband

        Because much of the US isn't profitable to wire at any price customers would likely pay. When AT&T was offered the absolute monopoly on phone service in the US back in the day they said no until the government agreed to exclude certain areas they simply would not accept. That is why those areas had a different phone company even back in the days of "Ma Bell." And it isn't any better now. Even being free to c

    • This is third party software. This is just like Talktatone (and others) on iOS, a third party app to map to Google voice. An iPod touch is a better device for this, because of the form factor. I refuse to call a 7" tablet a phone, maybe a telephony device.

      If this was native Android software, it may be news. A cell manufacturer releasing software that reduces the stranglehold on minutes and all that and pushes the carriers to be dumb data pipes would stir up a lot of noise in AT&T and Verizon board rooms

      • Err, "native Android software" was meant to be "built into Android OS"

        Obviously this is Android, my point is this isn't released by Google. If Google released this, then it's news.

        • by h4rr4r (612664)

          My galaxy nexus supports SIP out of the box, so it should not be too hard to get that phone software onto the nexus 7.

      • by rjr162 (69736)

        My Samsung galaxy s gt-i9000T had built in sip support right out of the box... so did my old nokia

    • by DragonTHC (208439)

      I did this on day one. I don't think it's newsworthy.

      suddenly discovering that a wifi device with a mic and speaker is usable with grooveIP just isn't exciting.

      • I just followed the blog's steps, and I got it working in 5 minutes! I've built several Asterisk boxes, and in general done a lot of playing around with VoIP. Usually, it takes me a couple hours to set up a new VoIP connection. I've often had to run WireShark to debug problems. The news here is with this blog and a Nexus 7 tablet, it's only 5 minutes. Thanks for writing that blog! Who would have guessed that the tablet would show up as a Google Chat device? That would have had me pulling my hair out.

  • on Google spam

  • by Anonymous Coward

    install grooveip? no give us the free way, go through sipdroid...

  • by Picass0 (147474) on Thursday August 16, 2012 @11:27AM (#41011627) Homepage Journal

    On one hand Slashdot runs stories where they throw out obscure acronyms I need to google, and then the flip side of the coin are stories that MIGHT surprise your grandmother. Well done, editors!

     

    • by Anonymous Coward

      I had to google "VoIP" too.

  • Only if you are U.S. Based
  • Nothing new... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mackil (668039) <movie@movBALDWIN ... net minus author> on Thursday August 16, 2012 @11:32AM (#41011733) Homepage Journal
    This is hardly earth shattering news. A friend of mine uses his iPod Touch as a phone and has for over a year. Wi-fi when it's available, and a 4G hot spot when it's not. Works great and is a great deal cheaper for those who aren't heavy users.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Huh? Do telcos charge fat people more or something?
      • by Anonymous Coward

        They should. Their fat bodies absorb more signal, so more power must be used to maintain signal quality, thus increasing the cost of running the network. Plus they are more likely to croak early, so their lifetime spend is reduced, so they should be charged more to compensate.

  • by Lauren Weinstein (828974) on Thursday August 16, 2012 @11:42AM (#41011909)
    No representation was made that this was earth-shattering news. Rather, a *lot* of people had been asking specifically how to make this work (not everyone is as knowledgeable about this area as some folks seem to think!) and the goal was to provide an approach with specific instructions that would function for people already using Google Voice, or who can obtain Google Voice accounts. This approach also has the advantage of going direct to Google Voice servers, rather than via third parties, which is also a plus (as far as I'm concerned, anyway).
    • by Zemran (3101)

      No one is criticizing the writing of the article but we question what it is doing here on /. The article belongs in the blogoshere with all the howto use Google Voice or Skype or whatever.

    • by godrik (1287354)

      I am not saysing it is not a useful information. It is just ridiculous to have it on slashdot front page. What will be the next article: "Hammer reported to be useful with nails"?

      • I think you may be somewhat overestimating the ability of many users to set up these environments in various cases without specific instructions. I know that when I mentioned that I was happy with this solution (in another venue) I got flooded with people asking for step-by-step instructions. In any case, all I did was note the posting, and I assume that the Slashdot editors have a pretty good sense of what will be useful/interesting to their readership overall, which seems to include a significant number
        • I assume that the Slashdot editors have a pretty good sense of what will be useful/interesting to their readership overall

          You must be new here.

          • Actually I've been here since the dawn of time. Maybe earlier. But the point is, the Slashdot audience does include a lot of people who are not technical wizards. I'll leave it at that.
            • Actually I've been here since the dawn of time. Maybe earlier.

              In this case you should recognize the meme.

              But the point is, the Slashdot audience does include a lot of people who are not technical wizards. I'll leave it at that.

              It doesn't take a "technical wizard" to install and configure Google Voice on Android, given that it's an explicitly supported scenario. It's really very basic skills.

              The site, by the way, is titled "news for nerds". I don't know if readership does indeed include a significant proportion of non-techies, as you claim; but even if so, that's not the declared target audience of the site.

        • by Desler (1608317)

          and I assume that the Slashdot editors have a pretty good sense of what will be useful/interesting to their readership overall

          You're joking, right? These are the same idiots who came up with turds such as Idle, Slash BI and Slashdot TV that have been almost universally hated. They haven't had a good idea in ages. Let alone the fact that they are too stupid to even properly spell check and fact check the submissions. You give them far too much credit.

          • Just out of curiosity, if you're that disdainful of Slashdot's editorial prowess, why do you visit here at all? I mean that as a serious question!
        • by cusco (717999)
          I at least thank you for the article, and will be forwarding your instructions to a couple of co-irkers and probably a nephew.
    • Thank you. I especially appreciate the warning concerning privacy. While this was not news for many, I am sure it was useful to some people who read Slashdot. Not everyone has an iron hot lock on all aspects of technology even if they do understand how it all works.

  • > quite a few people have been asking me if it's possible to use the Wi-Fi-based Nexus 7 as a phone

    Do these people own a Nexus 7 or have they even seen one? It wouldn't make a great phone.

    It's too big to hold up to your ear and besides there isn't a speaker near the top. So that means you'd have to use it as a speaker phone. And as it only has wi-fi it's not as if you can use it on the go, unless you happen to be near a wi-fi hotspot or similar that you have access to - but using it handsfree in public i

    • Addressing simply the practicalities.
      With the tablets speaker centred over my ear (yes, with the screen out), the mic is about 5cm from my mouth.
      It is not significantly harder to hold in this position than my phone.
      Sure, you may look a bit silly, and the point about wifi only is of course valid.

      • by danhuby (759002)

        Just tried it. Very silly and not sure I would want to endure a long phone call in that position. The Nexus 7 weighs quite a bit more than a mobile phone.

  • by Zemran (3101)

    I was doing this with a Nokia N95 before the phrase smart phone had been thought of. This is not news.

    • by stiggle (649614)

      Except the Nokia N95 was about 7 years after the 'smartphones' started appearing - and were being called smartphones.
      Like the Nokia 9210 Communicator and the Sony Ericsson p800.

      Smartphone was actually used in the 1990's.

    • by Desler (1608317)

      Except the phrase "smartphone" was orignally used in 2000 in marketing material by Ericcson to describe the R380. N95 was from 2007 which was long after smartphone became common vernacular.

  • i have an employer coded app on my iphone and ipad that links into our corporate VOIP system and turns my devices into my office phone. logs me out of the office phone too.

    no big deal. hundreds of similar apps with services in the app store for iphone and ipad

  • My son did this same thing last week on his iPod Touch 4 - sure it requires Wifi, but otherwise it 'just works' fine via Google Voice, so I don't know how this post is garnering this much attention, save for the Nexus 7 is the new/latest hotness.
  • Holding a 7 inch tablet up to my ear would look just about as silly as those original "brick" cellphones. No thanks, I'll stick to the regular form factor.
  • by lytles (24756) on Thursday August 16, 2012 @02:46PM (#41014577) Homepage

    wow - lots of negativity in the comments so far. yes, on one level this is obvious, but in reality i've found this difficult

    i use google voice as my primary number and most days i don't buy prepaid service (i'm spending $100 per year for the last 2 years) - so i'm wifi only. when i'm on a linux box (with a hardwired ethernet) i use the gmail to make calls. but i haven't found a great solution for my phone - google nexus s. what i'm doing is have google voice forward the call to ipkall (free pots to sip gateway) and then answer the call on my phone with csipsimple (seemed better than builtin, though i haven't tried the builtin sip since i upgraded to ICS). for testing, i do the same thing on my linux box using sflphone. the quality using gmail is much better than what i've gotten from either csipsimple or sflphone (i'm on a 1Mbit dsl connection)

    so an android app that talks directly to GV seems incredibly useful to me. anyone know how this works - eg, are they just running a pots-to-sip gateway or have they actually implemented the GV protocol (i think it's jingle with some extensions). any other apps that are doing something similar, especially one that's Free ? or linux programs (on my laptop, leaving gmail open eats my battery) ? anybody else using GV + wifi as their primary means of communication ? how does the voice quality compare with gmail ?

    yes, the article isn't great. but the idea is 100% geek - embrace it. in the meantime i'm going to go investigate GIPL and see if anyone else is implementing the GV protocol

    • Since I have been looking into these types of programs for a while, I'll give you what I have learned so far.

      Groove IP only works if you have set your google voice account to forward calls to Google Talk. Groove IP then talks to Google Talk through jingle like you guessed. One caveat is that in order for it to work, you cannot be logged in to Google Talk from any other computer, otherwise the call will get sent to your computer's GTalk session. Most other VOIP apps use a third party pbx to achieve this wh

  • Security concerns? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Am I the only one or do others look at this technology and think it's really neat and something I'd like to have, but as soon as I have to type in my google email address and password, I get leery that this 3rd party, closed source "lite" application is secretly doing an HTTP POST to a remote web server in some scary dude's basement and he's then using my google mail account for his own personal interests???

  • I've wondered this - can you tell Google Voice to ring both your carrier cell# and the VOIP # configged in grooveip/sipdroid/whatever, and then you can answer on whichever you prefer? That way, you can set your voip app to run when wifi is available (or script it to start when wifi turns on, if it doesn't have that feature), and conveniently receive calls on VOIP when possible.
  • I might get two...

  • I tried Groove IP, and it looks like most of the time, all you have to do is install the app and sign in.

    However, when testing it out with another phone, I found that the delay in the audio was too high to carry on a normal conversaion. On the order of 1 - 1.5 seconds. I couldn't find any settings in Groove IP that would lower it. Doesn't seem to be a problem with Google Voice because I carried out the same test on my computer (over the same wifi) and the latency was well within tolerable.

    I might use Groove

  • Has anyone tried this device yet? Not as spectacular as an iPad in my opinion http://www.frequency.com/video/nexus-7-review-hardware-software/53464963/-/4-4189 [frequency.com]

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