If you have a Google (gmail) account you must have figured out the usefulness of Google Voice. Some time ago [link id=’78’ text=’I wrote a tip’] with an overview of the Google Voice applications available for Mac. A new, and perhaps the best, contender is now on the scene.
Rather than go into the benefits of Google Voice itself, my aim here is to give you an update on what are now the best ways to integrate Google Voice functionality (send/receive SMS Text messages, view and listen to voicemail, initiate calls, etc.) into Apple Mac OS X.
First up is GrowlVoice
For a mere $4.99 GrowlVoice gives about as much bang-for-your-buck as could be expected. Like many of the excellent applications I’ve recommended for OS X in recent weeks, it runs as a small icon in the menu bar.
From this inconspicuous icon comes full access to your Google Voice account(s). You can add as many accounts as you wish, if you happen to have more than one account with Google.
To the right you can see the inbox. It will show text messages and voicemails; their read/unread status; the ability to mark them with a star; the date/time of the message; and a photo of the sender (if available).
Next up is the TXT (SMS Text) messaging interface. It’s just like the TXT system on the iPhone, on iChat, and other Apple messaging interfaces. Google Voice lets you send TXT message at no cost to any number in the USA. If that’s something you do from time-to-time, it is now as simple as sending the message right from your desktop.
Sort messages by inbox
Google Contacts or Address Book
Listen to transcribed voicemail
Infinite scrolling in inboxes
Custom keyboard shortcuts
You can buy GrowlVoice on the App Store here.
Before discovering Growlvoice, I used VoiceMac. Voicemac is relatively good at what it does, yet I would tend to close it because I didn’t want its one or more windows sitting around on the screen. I also found the way it handled displaying voice mail and txt message clunky. A new window would open up, and take up even more screen space. I much prefer the way GrowlVoice handles things and will likely uninstall VoiceMac.
VoiceMac does support SIP accounts, which is a plus if you have a SIP phone account (I do).
The big issue I currently have (and have had for a while) is that it is no longer stable on my computer. It tends to crash and have problems. For instance, it crashes when I try to initiate a call on my SIP account… so there goes that nice feature. It’s not had an update in quite a long time, and perhaps needs one.
If you don’t want to pay the $5 for GrowlVoice, then VoiceMac (free, and open source) might be your best bet… assuming it doesn’t crash on your system. I can’t say if the instability it has on my system is only, or if it’s a general problem with the applicaiton.
To use VoiceMac for initiating calls totally within the realm of your computer you’ll need a SIP phone installed, along with the necessary configuration. I’ll cover this in another Best Mac Tip. Just search for SIP on this site to see what’s been posted so far.
You can view the screen shots of VoiceMac here.
GV Connect Widget
The other Google Voice application I have is the GV Connect Widget. It sits on the Desktop along with whatever other Widgets you have installed.
Up until installing GrowlVoice, which I find so much more convenient, I would use GV Connect to know when I have new voicemail, and to quickly send an SMS Text message. I do find its texting functionality a bit clunky, one effect being that it’s easy to sent the same message more than once (it just sits there ready to send again, even once sent).
With GrowlVoice I suspect I’ll remove this Widget. However, if you would like just a Widget and not a full application to access Google Voice, GV Connect certainly does the job and it served me well for a few years.