Google Voice Update Brings Direct Access Numbers for Speedier Dialing, Eliminates Free Calling Trick


googlevoiceGoogle Voice just got an update on Android and Blackberry to include a feature called “direct access numbers.” The service now assigns a unique outgoing call number to each person you dial, skipping the need to forward the number you were dialing to Google Voice’s servers. This new feature makes connecting outgoing calls quicker by skipping the server altogether and forgoing your phone’s data connection. And while this addition definitely enhances the way the app functions, making it feel more like placing a traditional telephone call, it comes with one major caveat.

Many have been using a little “hack” though Google Voice to place unlimited voice calls regardless of how many minutes they have on their service provider plan (given the plan includes an unlimited “favorites” option like T-Mobile’s “myFaves”). The trick works (or worked) like this: You place your incoming Google Voice number as one of your unlimited minutes contacts and the outgoing Google Voice number as another. Now as long as you use Google Voice to place and receive calls, all are theoretically free no matter if the contact is in your favorites list or not. Now that the outgoing Google Voice number is no longer static, this clever work around has gone bye bye.

If you have been using this trick and don’t want to lose your precious, loophole, free unlimited calling you might do best to avoid the latest Google Voice update. If you downloaded the latest version not knowing you would lose this functionality, well there may be something of interest to you over at this web page. Don’t say we never give you nothing.

[via Google Mobile Blog, thanks to everyone who sent this in!]

Kevin Krause
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  1. thanks!

  2. You can still get free calls with friends and family or myfaves by using the web app to initiate the call. It calls you back with your own GV number as the source.

  3. I have been using GV for texts since i don’t use up my plan minutes. I won’t give vzw “free” money. If GV gets rid of the free texts, i’m out.

  4. Damn, there goes my free my-faves calling. I am grateful for the Google Voice Legacy link. At some point I will just have to update it though.

  5. I use the program Flex Dialer Lite since the official GV app would dial different numbers to initiate a call.

  6. @chaos: That’s not at all what this is talking about… The texting is still done via your data connection. If you’re going to comment, please actually read the article…

  7. Ok first this sucks but it only kills outgoing and not incoming right? I set my google voice number as my fav and set a bookmark for the cotnacts page of my google voice acct on my homescreen so whenever I wanted to make a free call I jus go to the site from my phone and click call on their name and it calls me to connect… kind of a longer method but shouldn’t that still work theoretically

  8. Shoot, I was hoping this would mean that you no longer need a data connection to make Google Voice calls but alas and alack, that is not the case.

  9. With google voice now open to everyone I’m guessing this was their plan all along. Otherwise their would be too much server traffic. I’m presuming they won’t phase this out as long as we don’t update the app as they still need the server’s for when you make calls from your web-browser.

  10. This pretty much sucks. I will now not be updating google voice in order to screw my service provider. I was making free calls (not using minutes) but that would all change with the update… so sad.

  11. Note: the other way to make free calls still works. You need:
    1. A Google Voice account.
    2. A 3rd party dialer app. This one works great for me:
    3. A data connection, which the dialer app will use to place your outgoing calls as incoming calls.
    4a. A “myFaves” type calling plan, to which you have added your Google Voice number. Set your GV number as the callback number in your dialer app.
    4b. Alternatively, a VoIP number which rings on SIPdroid. Set this as the callback number in your dialer app, and make calls over any high speed data network, even if you don’t have cell service.

  12. free incoming calls though if you update, just keep on the old version.

  13. GVoice Callback ( + Set “Display my Google Voice number” for incoming calls + add GV number as free number with your carrier = Unlimited free calls.

    Added bonus, if you have free incoming calls, GVoive Callback makes all calls incoming calls so the other steps are not needed.

    PS: There is a donate version of GVoice Callback, I suggest you consider it for all the money the app will save you.

  14. Ironically the free call trick still works on the iPhone web app. Haha

  15. This certainly is quite a blow to all the people who bought Androids for the sole purpose of having a good Google Voice interface to use for free calling. I updated accidentally, and noticed that it was using numbers other than my GV number to make my calls. I backed up my v0.3.4 version of the app and reinstalled that, but had to do more data wiping cause once I had opened v0.4, my phone was still trying to make calls with strange numbers. Apparently, the data that v0.4 adds resides somewhere other than in the GoogleVoice.apk application cache.

    Anybody else think that maybe carriers were doing so much complaining to Google that Google finally caved and eliminated the free calling trick?

  16. Can’t wait for Google Voice to work here in Canada…

  17. Actually, one of my biggest gripes with GV before was the need to initiate the call using the data connection. This makes placing outgoing calls much quicker, especially if you find yourself in an area with weak data reception.

    I don’t make a lot of calls, but when I do, I don’t want to wait around for the data connection to usually connect, I just want it to dial instantly. Granted, for those that make more calls, the the “ringback” feature of 3rd party dialers would probably be advantageous.

    Because I don’t use that many minutes, I find that scheme too much of a hassle especially when you receive incoming calls, and the caller ID shows your GV number, and not the callers.

  18. i barely use any of my plan minutes anyway
    sometimes i wish i would use more =P

  19. I just call my Gvoice number, press 2, then enter the number. Or better yet, for the numbers I call for more then a couple minutes on average, I’ll edit the number in my phone book. 2 # and it calls the person via Gvoice. 0 Minute calling. I don’t bother installing the Gvoice app these days :)

  20. My brackets got removed from that post. Meant to say that you edit the phone book entry to call your GV number, pause then 2, pause then desired number. = 0 Minute calling simplified :)

  21. @Eric
    I said if. Please actually read my comment…

  22. I’m all for this change, in an area of weak data reception, good luck making a GV call, this new change gets rid of that.

    Now if they only had MMS support and sending texts to multiple recipients via the Android app.

  23. I’m curious… with the update, now when you call out it will show a random number??? QUOTE – “Now that the outgoing Google Voice number is no longer static”… If that’s true why would I use Google Voice? I don’t want to update and then have my Google calls showing numbers that are not mine. Maybe I read this wrong… All in all I don’t use it that much, but like what it does!

  24. Actually, free outgoing never was free. You never actually called your Google number with the Google Voice interface, instead you were setup with a special routing number that sent you to whoever you were contacting. Only incoming calls were free with the MyFaves trick.

  25. This does make Google Voice seem…. less useful. Why would someone pick up from a random number?

  26. The one thing that I see wrong with google sending out your number over a number that you don’t know makes it do you won’t get pickups from some of the people that you call because they do not recognize the number that you’re calling from.

  27. @gerg the # the other person sees is still your own google voice #
    i just checked and the called ID at the office still shows my GV #

  28. The Xinlu GV callback app works flawlessly and I recommend it. I use it to make all home landline VoIP calls for $5/month as inbound is unlimited.

    The Fishsticks version just blows, it has a bug that the original dev still had when he abandoned the app. The app hangs on the log in to GV and forces a full reboot. I use Xinlu’s 20-50times/day and it is flawless.

  29. Man…they still gotta get Google Voice up and running in the UK >.<

  30. @CJ, ya know that what I thought I was doing when I added my GV number and routing number. I thought I was getting free outbound minutes….until recently I looked at my minutes left and the shit was mad low. I was like WTF how can my minutes be low if i did that trick. I was gonna call tmobile and ask them what happen…but u seem to clarify…but I am still not sure..why it doesn’t work

    I added the number to the myfaves….. so why didn’t it work?

  31. @para and CJ. If you entered the outbound server routing number as a fave, then it would be free. Nexus one displays that number when you place a call, or you could look at your call history from the provider to see what it is (was). Occasionally Google would change that static number without notice and some people got burned. Now its all moot. No more static outbound server number, but I like the fact that it doesn’t depend on data. It was way too slow and erratic.

  32. Para-it’s because when you use the official app to make a call, it dials different numbers to initiate a call. You need an app that dials your GV number, presses 2 to make an outgoing call, then enters your PIN and the number you want to call. That’s why I said earlier-Flex Dial Lite from the marketplace.

  33. Apparently Google thought North America wasn’t running out of available numbers fast enough. When I was a kid we had 2 area codes in my state. Now we have 9, and in addition to the numbers assigned by carriers, every carrier number gets a corresponding Google number.

  34. The previous version of GVoice stuck with a single relay number, so you could put that number into your Friends & Family list for unlimited free outgoing calls. The number would change every few months, but you could just update your list when that happened and continue on like before.

    This new GVoice setup makes that unworkable, as every contact now uses a different number.

    If you installed the new one and want to switch back, you can download the .apk file for Android here:

    Once you uninstall the new version and reinstall the old, set it up and it should all work as before.

  35. UGH. Why would you upgrade something that worked fine? You should have given us an option inside the settings to choose which we wanted at least.

    Now if only they could get MMS working…

  36. Tell me about it. I live in Chicago and we have to pick from 224, 312, 630, 708, 773, 815 and 847.

  37. So how is this different from Rebtel? I have lots of family outside of the country and i call them using rebtel and they assign local numbers that you can call that way verizon does not charge you a shitload.

  38. that makes no sense….becaiuse it would show that it’s dialing my access number

  39. @NRB don’t forget 331 & 779.

    @Phandroid, thank you so much for telling us! I would have wondered why my bill was so high. No update for us!

  40. Bunch of thieves and cheaters. You ought to be ashamed of yourself. I’m amazed at the brazen nonchalance of stealing by many folks on these boards. Hacking with the intent of stealing is just plain stealing.

  41. @Wilco Stealing?! 90% of tel-cos are thieves. The USF is thievery (it was not years ago, but it is now).

  42. i really nice post i think that it help me a lot to talk to my friends through google talk thanks for this kind information.

  43. @Wilco take your self-righteousness somewhere else – it doesn’t belong anywhere near the internet, not to mention android power users.

    i just went back to the old version…works fine. didn’t even notice they changed the number on me this month – and then updated to this! thanks to this post i have a few methods to use if i must upgrade though. thanks.

  44. If you install it by accident just simply uninstall it. Uninstalling dont mean it deletes the entire app for nexus one users. Choose the option uninstall update. you should be fine.

  45. You can buy the GVDialer from the market for $1.99. It is really worth it if you are stuck and is extremely functional. It is by

  46. Do not understand how the incoming calls are free. My GV number will still forward to my VW cell. Doesn’t that latter action trigger a charge?

  47. Google.. OLD GOOGLE VOICE and download the old APK file. You need to first uninstall the current Google Voice on your phone for the old version to work ;)

  48. T-Mobile no longer offers MyFavs so no free calling anyone.

  49. Thanks for the link to Google Voice V3. Installed it back on my Droid and got my static outgoing number again! Hurray for free outgoing calls. Just added that static number into my Friends & Family list and it is good to go. Just gotta make sure GV never updates again!

  50. How do you uninstall new version from android 2.2 now. When overwriting its replaced with the new version on boot again…

  51. @Wilco Thank you for saying something. Sad and indeed baffling that people get all pissed off about being prevented from outright stealing! People, if you don’t agree to the terms of a given service, do not buy the service – it’s that simple.

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