How to Replace Your Boring Voicemail with Google Voice

google-voicemail-thumbWhen Google first opened Google Voice, I was very excited to check it out.  I was especially looking forward to their voicemail service, particularly the transcription feature.  However, after checking it out for a few minutes I lost interest.  Although a lot of the features were great, I would have to switch my number to a separate Google Voice number to really take advantage of many of the features.  That is just not a switch I’m willing to make for a few new features.

However, when I walked into work on Tuesday, I saw Evan and Dustin setting up their phones to take advantage of Google Voice’s voicemail using their current carrier.  Suddenly, Google Voice became very useful to me!

Essentially, you can now use Google Voice’s voicemail service instead of your standard carrier’s system, allowing you to take advantage of the robust voicemail service without giving your friends a completely new number.  I’m not very savvy with my phone (I just use it for calling and texting) so at first glance, I thought it would be a bit challenging to set up. In usual Google fashion, though, they made it deceptively easy!

Setting up Google Voice for Voicemail

The first step is to log into your Google Voice account (if you don’t have one yet, you can request an invite on the Google Voice site or from a friend who already has an account).

After you have logged in, proceed to the main settings page by clicking on the Settings link in the upper right.  After you’ve added at least one device to your account, you should now see a link to “Activate Google voice mail for this phone.” Click it!

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That will pop up a window to help you enable forwarding on your phone. Select your carrier and follow the instructions.

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After you “call” the provided number, it will set your phone to forward to Google Voice if you don’t answer your phone.  Once you’re done calling the number, ask a friend to call your phone and have them leave a voicemail.  If everything went smoothly they should get forwarded to your Google voicemail instead of your regular carrier’s!

Additional Tweaking

If you are content with the default settings, you’re done! If not, go back to the main settings page and tweak the voicemail settings to your liking. Personally, I have it send me a text to notify me when I get a new voice mail. Not only does it serve the function of notifying me I got a message but it also contains the transcription of the message. I find this to be very helpful because if I’m in class or at work and I can’t answer my phone, I can still get the message and decide if I need to excuse myself to respond.

The only problem I’ve run into so far is initially, it will ring way to many times before going to voicemail because it rings X number of times on your phone, and then X number of times on Google before going to voicemail. To fix that, check out this article written by Evan.

I am just beginning to explore all the possibilities, and I hope you will join me as we figure out just how useful this new feature really is. So far, at least, I really enjoy Google’s voicemail because it allows me to see the content of messages in situations where I couldn’t use my phone to check.

What do you like best about the new Google voice mail?  Share it with us in the comments!

How to Prevent Extra Rings using Google Voice as Voicemail

google-voicemail-thumbNow that Google Voice’s voicemail can be added to your existing phone number (giving you great features like searchable voicemail, free voice transcription, custom greetings, and email/SMS notification), you may have noticed that callers have to wait through way too many rings before your Google voicemail picks up the call.

Here’s how it plays out:

Call initiated
[ Phone rings 4-5 times ]
Call forwarded to Google Voice
[ Google Voice rings 2-3 additional times ]
Google Voicemail takes the call

That gives you a grand total of up to 8 rings, which is a long time to be waiting on the other line.  Here’s a quick-and-easy solution to removing the extra rings from Google Voice:

Note: This guide is only for users who have replaced their voicemail with Google Voice.  If you’re using Google Voice to forward calls to multiple numbers, this will mess that up.

Step 1: Log into Google Voice and click ‘Settings’ in the top right corner of the window.

google-voicemail-settings

Step 2: Click the ‘Edit’ button under your current cell phone number.

google-voicemail-editphone

Step 3: Click ‘Show advanced settings’.

google-voicemail-advanced

Step 4: Under Forwarding Options, select ‘Go straight to voicemail’.  Click Save and repeat this process for any other phones you have in Google Voice.

google-voicemail-voicemailsettings

From my testing, my phone now goes seamlessly to my Google voicemail without any extra rings in between.  The nice part about this trick is that you’ll still be able to send/receive SMS to your phone (which would be lost if you simply removed the phone from the forwarding list).

Have any tricks for getting the most out of Google Voice?  Share them in the comments!

How to Install Google Android on the HTC Kaiser (AT&T Tilt)

htc-androidEdit: Android can now be directly installed to NAND on the Kaiser. Flashing to NAND will allow direct booting to Android and complete replacement of Windows Mobile. NAND installation requires a HardSPL, while the method described below does not. For details on NAND flashing, please check this thread.

Since its launch, Google’s open-source linux-based mobile OS, Android, has been a welcome addition to the market. During the past few months, enterprising hackers have been working to get Android running on phones which do not natively run the OS.

There are currently a number of phones which are capable of running Android, and this guide will specifically walk through the details of getting Android running on the HTC Kaiser (AT&T Tilt).

Things you’ll need:

  • A supported phone
  • At least a 512 MB micro SD card formatted with FAT 32 with enough space for the Android files.

Android requires a set of files in order to run properly:

  • zImage – This is the linux kernel
  • system.img/sqsh – This file stores the UI and some OS files
  • default.txt – This file has the linux boot parameters.
  • Initrd.gz – init ramdisk
  • rootfs.img/sqsh – Root filesystem image
  • user.conf – This may also be included. It allows you to run shell scripts upon system startup.
  • haret.exe – this is the Linux bootloader. You’ll need this to boot Android from within Windows Mobile.
  • media folder – This contains android default ringtones and other media.

Limitations of current Android builds on the HTC Kaiser:

  • Directly booting to Android (Must boot via haret.exe)
  • The camera does not work
  • Bluetooth does not work

A Few Notes Before Installation

By installing Android, you will not actually replace Windows Mobile. You must boot to Android via the linux bootloader (haret.exe). While it is an inconvenience to not have direct booting to Android available, this does mean that you can run Android on a completely unmodified phone.

Installing Android

Current packages can be found in the xda-developers forums: http://forum.xda-developers.com/forumdisplay.php?f=602

To install, unpack the package or assemble the files needed and place them in the root of your SD card. Once done, open haret.exe and select Run. Android should begin booting at this point. If it is your first boot it may take longer since it needs to create the data.img file which will contain all of your downloaded apps and settings.

Once booted, you’ll be prompted to login to your Google account. If you do not have one, there is an option to create one. In order to login or create a Google account, you’ll need to ensure the data connection is working. If it is not working you can skip the account login process and enable your data connection.

If your connectivity is not working after the initial installation, you may need to update or add your carrier APN. To do so, navigate to Settings > Wireless Controls > Mobile networks > Access Point Names then click the menu button and select New APN and enter in your carrier APN info (APN Carrier Info is available here: http://www.androidonhtc.com/old/carrier_network_settings). Once the APN information is in, you can test the connectivity with the Modem application.

With the data connection working, you can then login to your Google account. This will pull down all of your emails and contact information from Gmail. To ease the process of getting your contacts into your Android phone, you can import them into Gmail. (Guide here: http://mail.google.com/support/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=8301).

Once you’re connected with your Google account you can enjoy the full glory of your new Android phone.

I highly recommend browsing through the market and checking out the apps available. Here are a few of my favorite picks:

  • Twidroid – Twitter Application
  • ConnectBot – SSH Terminal Application
  • Google Voice – Google Voice Application
  • The Weather Channel – Weather Application
  • Pandora – Pandora Music Application

If you have any questions, feel free to ask them in the comments.

YouMail – Voicemail Done Right

ymlogoloveI miss answering machines. Allow me to clarify: let’s go back approximately ten years when there were still answering machines around. I call you, you’re not home. The answering machine picks up, plays your little message, beeps, and I say what I need to say. Done.

Today’s voicemail service could learn a thing or two from the simplicity of the answering machine. That’s where YouMail comes in. Read on to see how this new service is changing the voicemail game.

Continue reading “YouMail — Voicemail Done Right”

Apple’s App Store Hits One Billion Downloads

app_storeAt approximately 2pm on April 23rd, 2009 the 1,000,000,000th application was downloaded from Apple’s App Store since it first launched only nine months ago.  Although the App Store has had its fair share of problems (and it seems that developers are still getting stuck in the application approval process), this statistic is a significant milestone for the company.

Which applications do you like the most?  Some of my favorites are Tweetie, Pandora, and Air Sharing.  Share in the comments!

[via Apple]

How To: Use Your iPhone/iPod Touch as a Wireless Flash Drive

airsharingOne of the most useful applications I’ve used for the iPhone/iPod Touch is Airsharing ($4.99, app store), which allows you to use your device as a wireless flash drive.  Not only can it store (and view!) files wirelessly, it also works on Windows, Mac, Linux and even through a web browser.  If that wasn’t enough – Airsharing also includes helpful instructions on how to setup and connect to your device for your specific operating system.

Airsharing Initial ScreenThe initial screen in Airsharing displays a list of files and folders on the device, as well as the IP address of your device which can be used to view and upload files through your web browser.  Airsharing is capable of viewing many different types of files, including Word, Excel, Powerpoint, PDFs, and images which is extremely useful for viewing files on the go.

To protect your data, Airsharing comes equipped with security options such as password protection as well as sleeping after a period of inactivity.  Airsharing also offers the option of keeping your device password-free, which is convenient if you’re using it exclusively on a secure private network.

Connecting to your device via a web browser is as easy as entering the provided IP address into your location bar, but for a more permanent connection method you can use the included instructions (accessible via the ? button) to mount the device as a network drive.  I found this very to be very practical when transferring multiple files because the browser-based uairsharing31ploader only allows one file transfer at a time.

Do you have any suggestions for expanding the storage uses of your iPhone/iPod Touch?  Share them in the comments!

Flashreview: Power Support Anti-Glare Film for iPhone/iPod Touch

filmIn this day and age, you don’t buy electronics (especially touchscreen electronics) without investing into some form of screen protection.  For  devices such as the iPhone or iPod Touch, screen protectors can also improve the responsiveness of the device by improving the screen’s traction.

The product: I stumbled upon Power Support’s Anti-Glare Film for the iPhone/iPod Touch, which is available from Power Support USA as well as the Apple Store.  This product boasts a “custom-fit film that will reduce the visual impacts of glare and finger printing while providing scratch protection”.  Included in the package were two anti-glare films (one for the front and another for the back) as well as a pre-installation film which was for removing dirt and dust from the screen. Continue reading “Flashreview: Power Support Anti-Glare Film for iPhone/iPod Touch”