In the future, your phone will only need a data connection. Paying for voice minutes and text messages will be an outdated concept and you’ll be able to communicate entirely over Wi-Fi. Google already offers free calls from your web browser, but they don’t offer this feature on smartphones to avoid upsetting the carriers. Talkatone does what Google won’t and offers free calls and texts over Wi-Fi.
Talkatone piggybacks off Google’s infrastructure, so it only offers free calls to the US and Canada. If you’re a Google Voice user, you can also receive phone calls and use text messages. Talkatone can even turn that iPod Touch, iPad, or Android tablet into a phone.
Making Free Mobile Calls
Talkatone is available from Google Play and the Apple App Store. The screenshots here are from the Android app, but the app for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch is more mature and should work similarly. The free version is ad-supported. There’s also a premium version that removes the ads and offers improved call quality, among other features – but the free version works just fine.
Launch Talkatone and you’ll be prompted to add a Google or Facebook account. You’ll have to provide a Google account to take advantage of the free calls.
You’ll see a dialpad after Talkatone connects. You can also use the icons at the top of the screen to select a number from your contacts, recently called list, or favorites.
Placing a call is as easy as dialing the number. No further configuration needed!
If you have never placed a phone call from Gmail’s web interface before, you may need to open Gmail in your web browser and place a single outgoing call before Talkatone will work properly with your Google account.
You can also participate in VoIP calls over Google Talk or Facebook. Use the Contacts pane to start calls with your Google Talk or Facebook contacts.
SMS Messages & Incoming Calls
If you’re in the USA, read on – you can use Talkatone with your Google Voice account to send text messages and receive incoming phone calls. Talkatone has the features that should be built into the official Google Voice app, allowing you to use your Google Voice account entirely over a Wi-Fi or data connection. The How To screen under the Help menu will guide you through the setup process, if you need the help.
To receive incoming calls, log into your Google Voice account and enable the “Forward to Google Chat” option. You must also be signed out of the chat feature in Gmail.
Talkatone runs in the background once you sign in with it, so you’ll get a notification when you receive a call. Place a call to yourself to verify everything is working properly.
To get SMS support working, enable the “Text Forwarding” feature in Google Voice to forward text messages to your email. Once it’s enabled, you can send and receive SMS messages from Talkatone.
By default, Talkatone advertises itself by adding itself to your Google Talk status message when you’re using it. You can change this – open the Settings screen, tap Accounts and tap the name of your Google account to customize your status.
Adjusting Call Quality
The Call Quality settings screen offers a variety of options to control call quality, with separate settings for Wi-Fi and cellular data connections. You can optimize Talkatone for high-quality calls over Wi-Fi and low-bandwidth calls over the cellular network.
If you try Talkatone, leave a comment and let us know how well it works for you. If you prefer another VoIP app instead, let us know which one!
Image Credit: Glossy Phone Icon Button via Shutterstock