Poor Reception? Make Calls Over Wi-Fi With Google Voice and GrooVe IP!

I have Verizon as a service (shame on me), and although it supposedly covers 98% of America, my apartment seems to be an exception. Even checking on a coverage map it shows I am hopeless. After much aggravation and trying everything I could get my hands on I talked with my brother, a fellow avid Android user. He and I put our heads together and came up with a great solution: Google Voice plus GrooVe IP.

It’s as easy as the first level in Teeter. Seriously, it is and it’s free! The duo I pair together here to make Wi-Fi calls are just like a comic book duo: Google Voice is to GrooVe IP as Batman is to Robin.

We all – well, those who read Android news – know about Google Voice (GV for short). Some of us use GV already while others aren’t offered it based on their region. What you may not know is how to use it to fix your frustrating problems with dropped calls.

There Is Hope for You

If you don’t have good reception at home, and you have a Wi-Fi setup you can connect to with your phone, then GV is your answer. I’m not going to review the whole app (see here for that); I mainly want to focus on getting your calls through your wireless network, as simply as possible.

Download Google Voice

First I want to make sure you have set up a Google Account. Assuming you’ve done that, download the Google Voice app from the Android Market.

Once downloaded, sign in and tick one of the “Making calls” options. In here I check to ask every time I make a call. What this enables me to do is forget it’s active and just make calls like I usually do, only with one or two more button presses. When connected to Wi-Fi it prompts the user to ask if they would like to make the call with or without GV.

Make GV selection here

VoIP Calls

Your next download should be the GrooVe IP app. The only version available is a paid app, for $4.99.

GrooVe IP allows you to make VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) calls. Now we need to sign in to our Google Voice account through GrooVe IP and then we can configure the rest.

GrooVe IP settings

We could enable an option to let us make calls over 3G/4G, but we won’t worry about that for now. We only want to allow calls when Wi-Fi is available, simply because when we are connected to Wi-Fi the system will prompt us so we don’t have to search for the options ourselves. This way, after selecting GV, it will give us the choice to use GrooVe IP for calls (as opposed to the mobile network, which lets the user place calls over 3G/4G).

What I want you to do is let the app auto-start, because when Wi-Fi is enabled this will skip yet another step and prompt for us. This setting can be found in Settings > Miscellaneous > Auto-start. While we’re here we also have the option to disable notifications; if you’re a status bar clutter freak like I am you’ll tick these boxes.

GrooVe IP notification checkboxes

The ability to be prompted saves a ton of work for the everyday user and is great. If you are not connected to Wi-Fi the system will not prompt you to call using GrooVe IP, thereby subtly letting you know that your device is not currently connected to a wireless device.

All Set

Now that you’re all set up and signed in, every time you make a phone call you will be prompted either to use GV or to make the call without it. If you choose to make it with GV then you should select GrooVe IP in the next prompt, and it will connect your call to the chosen recipient. If you choose to select to make the call without GV it will simply continue the way it always has to make a standard phone call.

The quality of the call will greatly depend on how strong the WiFi connection that we’re using is.

Call is placed

So, this pair of apps work fantastically well together! The ability alone to shine through a carrier’s dead-zone was enough for me to give it a shot. I highly recommend these two to anyone with a smartphone and poor reception at home or at the office. A friend of mine works in a basement, and uses the exact same setup to place calls without flaw. As long as there’s Wi-Fi or a hot-spot available, the ability to place a call will be readily accessible.

  • Andrew G

    I live in the (508) as well, a longtime Verizon customer with a Droid Incredible rooted running 2.2. My Google Voice does not seem to have options for local calls at all, only international calls. I am running the 11/15/2011 update of GV. What version of GV do you have? What phone? Thanks! -A

  • JJ

    I have a rooted HTC Thunderbolt running Cyanogen 7 GB2.3 with GV Build on it. This is also on Verizon. To make calls with GV go to settings>select making calls>Choose ‘Ask Every Time’. That way when you call someone it prompts you when on WiFi and you can just call that way.

  • loren hooper

    wow i can’t make anycalls this is freaking false advertisement man i want my money back

  • Andy

    Can’t you just substitute Sipgate for GrooVe IP and save yourself a few bucks?

  • Hank

    Groove IP has lite/free version now. I have tried it and it works fine. Now I justa have to figure out how to make inernational calls.

    • Leodanqueretaro

      Same way but you have to put money into your google account,
      the rates they have are really good comparing to skype that charge to most parts of Mexico 13 cents a minute google only charge you 3 cents. and is cheaper to most of other countries.

  • Mike Tyson

    Note – the free version of Groove IP (Groove-lite) can only make calls using WiFi. It cannot use the 3G/4G connection on your phone.

  • leroy

    if i use wifi connection, do international calls still cost money? or are the cheaper rates for making calls international on 3G or 4G?

  • dude

    What I would like to know is why not use GV alone? I have only just installed and successfully made 2 calls using only GV and my home wifi. I can only guess that GV won’t work without wifi???

  • different dude

    hey ‘dude’ from ‘6 months ago’. how are you able to get GV to make a call without cellular service? i know that on a non-activated phone, it won’t let you (which leads me to believe that if you try to use GV exclusively to place a call, you’re actually incurring minute charges)

  • Srividhya Visweswaran Iyer

    hi thr..i am currently a final year student and want to complete my project by creating an app for android that can enable calls over wifi on a cellular device without using a sim card..u seen like to have worked on a similar line of thought..i’d like loads of help from u in programming the ‘batman’ and ‘robin’ in the simplest possible manner..HELP !!!