Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Free Calling on Your Android

So, bills getting you down?  Finding that you can't keep up with the contract carriers, but the pre-paid services just don't have enough minutes for you?  Well, fret not.  If you are like me, and are on a pre-paid service with the bare minimum, you may like the following apps.
Some of the following apps are available for iOS as well as the Android platforms, so these may come in handy for you iPhone users as well.

Google Voice (app & service) - Google's VoIP service...essentially.  You get a real phone number that allows you to call and text freely as much as you like within the US.  This is the basic service you will need for the following apps.

GrooVe IP - This is the paid version of the app.  However, there is a free version as well.  I purchased the paid version, and am glad I did.  When my 300 minute plan gets a bit to close at the end of the month, or I have some issues with having to wait a bit to make a new payment, I am still good to go.  GrooVe IP uses your free Google Voice account to set up unlimited calling over your data/WiFi connection.  There is no native SMS/MMS feature at this time.  If all you need is calling, this is perfect.

Talkatone - A pretty decent all-in-one application.  The app is initially free, and ad supported.  However, if you want to have more control over the app, you need to sign up for a monthly premium.  The basic app gives you calling and texting using Google Voice.  My only issue with this app, it is a heavyweight.  It will eat up RAM and memory.

Spare Phone - Just like the above two, another fine Google Voice app.  I don't have much in the way of hands on experience here with this app, but the overall ratings seem pretty solid.  I would say a recommended option.  However, there is NO free version, where GrooVe and Talkatone have either a free version, or are basically free.  No built in SMS either.

These are really the best of the best.  There are numerous SIP apps in the Play Store, but these are not easy to set up for the novice user, where the above simply require you to just log in with your Google account.  There are also a great deal number of apps that talk about "free unlimited calling", but these tend to require that you and your recipient use the same app, much like Skype, which rather defeats the point.

Do you have a particular favorite?  Let me know here, or on Facebook and/or Google+.

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