How To Get Visual Voicemail on Your Pre or Pixi (Using Google Voice) | webOS Nation

How To Get Visual Voicemail on Your Pre or Pixi (Using Google Voice) 104

by Dieter Bohn Thu, 03 Dec 2009 12:53 pm EST

We've long wanted true visual voicemail on webOS: having the ability to browse a listing of your voicemails and listen to them directly from that app turns out to be one of those little features that is hard to give up once you've tried it.

Well, it turns out that a lucky few can get visual voicemail going on webOS - you can do it with Google Voice and it works quite well. Now that Sprint no longer chargers for "conditional call forwarding," it also means that you can get it for free.

Here's how:

Step 1: Get a Google Voice Account

There's no two ways about it: to get visual voicemail on the Pre or Pixi, you need to not only have a Google Voice account, but you also have to resign yourself to giving Google yet another window into your life. C'est la vie.  Google Voice is invite-only right now, so you'll need to hit up your tech-savvy friends. Desperate folks can also find them cheap on eBay.

Once you have it, set it up as you like it. You should at the very least add your phone via the settings tab, but it's up to you whether you want to give out your Google Voice number and have it ring your various phones. I do and I adore it, but if you want to just get the voicemail, there's no need.

Adding your phone consists of plugging in your phone number, telling Google Voice what sort of phone it is, and then accepting a call from Google Voice to confirm that it is, in fact, your phone number.

Step 2: Settings in Google Voice

Now that you have added your phone to Google Voice, it's time to head back into the settings. 

The next steps are pretty simple. You just need to click the link that says "Activate Google voicemail on this phone" and follow the instructions. This will cause your phone to cease sending calls to your carrier's voicemail system after your phone stops ringing and instead send them to Google Voice. In essence, on Sprint you dial *28xxxxxxxxxx, plugging your Google Voice number into those blanks.

We're not quite done yet, you have a few more settings to deal with here. First, you need to decide whether or not you want your Google Voice number to ring when you get a call. On the main settings screen, just check the box next to each phone you want to ring before going to voicemail. If you're a single-phone user and you're just going for visual voicemail, uncheck the box next to your phone.

Secondly, click the "Edit" box next to your phone to bring up a few more preferences. You can opt to receive SMS if you like, but again if you're not using the full Google Voice experience here, you can leave that unchecked. Click "Show Advanced Settings" and choose whether or not you want to have to enter a PIN to access voicemail from your phone.

And the settings party continues, click the "Voicemail & SMS" tab within settings.

There are a ton of settings in here. This is where you record your voicemail greeting, set your recorded name, your voicemail PIN, and so on.  If you're just looking to get visual voicemail, here's what you should do:

  • Set a voicemail greeting
  • Set a voicemail recorded name
  • Decide whether your want your voicemail emailed to you (you almost surely do)
  • Check the box next to your phone number to receive SMS alerts. For now, webOS doesn't support push notifications for 3rd party apps like what you'll be using for visual voicemail. Better safe than sorry here, you don't want to miss a voicemail.
  • Check Transcribe Voicemails.

That should do it. Now you're done with Google Voice settings. Take a breather.

Step 3: Download a Google Voice App

Now you need an on-device app to handle your visual voicemail. I may be missing one or three, but as I see it, currently the best three apps for Visual Voicemail are:

  • GDial Pro (and Homebrew-edition of GDial Pro)
  • Visual Voicemail
  • DKGoogleVoice

I use the Homebrew-edition of GDial Pro, but I'm also a heavy Google Voice user. DKGoogleVoice is also an excellent choice for heavy Google Voice users, and P2GoogleVoice is decent for Google Voice but not as strong for visual voicemail.

We'll go with the Visual Voicemail app. It's brought to you by the same folks who made GDial Pro and is technically just a subset of that app. Go ahead and download it from the App Catalog.

Open up Visual Voicemail and it'll jump you into preferences where you can enter your Google credentials - your Google email and password that you used when creating your Google Voice account. Swipe back and you're done. (At launch, Visual Voicemail had a subscription component that has since been dropped)

Now instead of voicemails going into Sprint's system, they'll go into Google Voice. Depending on how you set up your alerts, you'll either get an SMS alert, and email alert, or both. When you do, you can pop into Visual Voicemail, refresh the app, and then tap on your most recent voicemail to get the transcription (which, fair warning, will likely be very poor) and a button to listen to the actual voicemail.

There you go: visual voicemail on webOS using Google Voice. It's not as easy as it could be, but on the other hand it is free. It's also a nice way to dip your toes into the world of Google Voice, which could be useful if you think you might be wanting to use the service for its real purpose: a unified phone number for all your phones.

Any configuration tips I've missed? Anybody out there using Google Voice as heavily as I am?


did it. not as pretty as VVM on my instinct, and sometimes very slow, but better than nothing. how 'bout a swipe to delete?

I was thinking the same thing. Don't know if Google's API allows for deletion, but if it doesn't now, it needs to tomorrow. One more thing

Does anyone knows if the absence of visual voicemail is palm or sprint thing?


Smart A$$. :)

It's a Sprint thing. If Sprint were to flick the switch today then it would be a Palm thing (as VVM would have to be worked into the phone app).

Both. They usually have to pay a license fee. Sprint did it with the Instinct, but Palm probably wanted to keep it open to developers

Syntactix is making a visual voicemail app using Youmail that seems quite promising. I like it better than the gmail version so far, but no transcription via text unless you pay extra. Check it out below

Even though the picture is Visual Voicemail, I think gDial Pro is still the top app.

My Wife is exchanging her Pre, because the screen went out. We both use Google Numbers. She isn't missing a beat, using our spare Pixi while her phone is down. Google Voice is Great.

One advantage over standard visual voicemail is no voice minutes to listen to voicemail. Just play the MP3 from gDial Pro.

Dieter -- this article was fantastic. Talk about clear instructions with spots of anecdotal wisdom. I can not wait to get hold of a Google Voice account to try it out.

(p.s. It looks like you are back in full swing writing articles after a brief hiatus. So glad!)

So your activating an AT&T, and enabling SMS to a Verizon phone, nevermind that your Pre is a Sprint phone.

Dieter has more phones than the phone company. :)

Love it! Wish it had a delete option though!

Visual Voicemail could use some graphical treatment, just for kicks, but functionally it's perfect.

Great article, and tremendous apps!

Are we sure that Sprint's conditional call forwarding is now free?

According to Sprint's website it's not:

And also my cell bill this month included charges for call forwarding (20 cents/minute)

If you started using call forwarding before they indeed made it free (which was much later in November than originally reported) then you will see charges pro-rated for the per use call forwarding charges... But according to resources at many levels of sprint CS and several printed articles and docs it is indeed now free.

Keep in mind anytime sprint does a change like this there are billing glitches, many people were charged some bogus fees related to the automatic switch over to any mobile any time as well.

If you feel you were charged incorrectly just call them, they will fix it :-)

I know I used sprint forwarding last week, and got a .20 cent charge on my bill, so I am not sure if it has been fully implemented.

I've had Google Voice set up for a while as an experiment. Now that Sprint's forwarding is free, I've gone ahead an completed step (2) so that callers leave VM in my Google Voice inbox.

My question is this: if I'm just checking VM, and don't need to dial out using Google Voice using my Pre, isn't it just as easy to have Google Voice e-mail me my message? This way I get transcriptions and audio attachments in my e-mail inbox instead of having to fire up a Google Voice app to see/read my voicemail.

I'm open to suggestion - I'm just trying to keep things simple.

One argument against it might be that the notification emails would be jumbled among other emails. But set up an email account dedicated to GV, and you have a visual voice mail app with transcriptions and deletions.

Why didn't I think of that. Thank you, I just set up a dedicated email for GV and it is much better for voicemail than any of the apps. My email app is usually already open, I get the voicemails "as they arrive" within seconds instead of 5 to 15 minutes, and the call back number is a link in the email body which uses my sprint number instead of of my GV number (I don't use my GV number). Also GV almost always transcribes spoken numbers correctly so if a caller leaves a different call back number in the transcription body it also shows up as a calling link.
Now I just need to be able to assign different email accounts different notification sounds.

I wish I could get a dedicated google email address to assign to GV. Problem is that it is hooked to my primary email address (where contacts are BTW), and it will allow me to add another email address I could have GV VM forwarded to...but it will not let me use another gmail address! I found another workaround: type "new voicemail" in the email app and it will pull out all of your voicemails from among the other emails together to see and read/listen to. I have my email set to just update every 15 minutes through since I was annoyed by immediate updates...usually am in range of towers when I miss a call though and can tell from phone therefore that I have missed the call.

I really wish that gdial pro and other VM pre apps had a way to pause playback and a slider to drag around. The web version of GV is quite good and can be bookmarked in browser...this opens pre media player where you have a slider. I guess for heavy use, you can always access GV from desktop computer.

I ran into the same problem so I created a filter in my primary account for anything from Google Voice, to skip the inbox, foward to the new email, and delete. It works instantly and there is no trace of it in my primary account.

I like to use the SMS option to get voicemails. Then go into gDial Pro to read and listen to if needed.

ok i've got my gvoice invite, and have yet to set up my phone #. why should or shouldn't i go with my sprint number on Google Voice?

I used my Sprint number since I've had it for 10yrs.

Understand that by using your own number, you only get the voicemail functions and not the advantages of having a Google Number.

Oh wow...this may make me use my google voice number full time.

I'm going to wait until the new app limit fix to try it tho.

I've been using this voicemail setup for a little while now (since google opened up the option) with gDialPro homebrew and it works great. It's too bad the transcribing function doesn't work any better, but you get what you pay for I guess (and, as is, the mistakes provide a lot of entertainment).

Yeah, good write up, Dieter. It's still just not for me. Having the extra hoops to jump through just isn't justified in my eyes as compared to just picking up the phone and hearing a good friend's voice directly. Plus it's giving up one more thing to Google.

I'd really like to see Sprint do the Pre up how they did the Instinct's VVM. A girlfriend of mine had one and I thought it would be a nice feature.

But gratz to those who like this, and nice work from the GDial group.

For those who want an alternative to Google Voice, check out YouMail and Syntactix's upcoming YouView interface for it. Details can be found in the Syntactix developer forum.

Been using GV for visual voicemail with GDial Pro for about a month now and love it. I read yesterday where AT&T plans to charge $10 per month for voicemail transcriptions. Screw that!

A future update I would like to see would be the display of Contact photos.

Also, the developers said they currently cannot play audio through the earpiece due to the SDK but it may be a feature in the future depending on Palm.

I have 1 GV invite left. PM me your Email and I'll be glad to pass it along.

Update: GV invite gone. Congrats, Cringer.

Hmm Still waiting for...

-Google Latitude

-Text 2 Speech
-Working GPU Unit

Re: Google Latitude. Check "Longitude" in the homebrew catalog.

Can someone please send me an invite?

If you're impatient, like I was.. you can buy one cheaply on the auction sites

Chas Palm

go ahead and send me your email address. ill shoot an invite over.

the transcriptions have been pretty far off from the actual message. I like the concept though...

Is there anyway to make gDialpro output the playback of voicemails only through the handset's "hold to your ear" speaker and not the larger, external speaker? I'd rather listen to my voicemails in private rather than having them blaring out for everyone in the office to hear?

I second that... I don't want to race to plug in my headphones everytime I play a voicemail in a less than private area.

[B] APP not required to get Google voicemail.[/B]

The more important question do you undo *28?


So *28XXXXXXXXX will enable free conditional call forwarding to you Google Voice mailbox and *38 will disable the forwarding and go back to your Sprint voicemail?

Do you have to dial anything after the *38 to go back to Sprint voicemail?

Have same question. what are the steps to undo? thanks a lot!

I've got Google Wave and I will trade invites with anyone willing to part with a Google voice invite... :)

Do you still need an invite? I have one left.

The problem is that you have to rely on sms or email alert to know when you have a voicemail. The app should really have a headless mode that shows alerts even when you don't see a UI. Then you click an alert and it shows the ui.

I also agree that the UI needs to be cleaned up majorly. A progress bar and pause / restart buttons would be nice additions as well.

i have a gVoice invite im willing to part with tweet me @this_girl_c

I set up a card link to the Google Voice website in my launcher. Works as well or better than a dedicated app.

i have 3 google voice invites just sitting there waiting to be used
* edit i forgot to put my email incase anybody wants an invite

I previously set up my Google Voice account just to be voicemail for my Sprint number and did not get a Google Voice number. Is there any way to go back and get a Google Voice number? Thanks,

I don't believe so. Google does not make this clear and many people are annoyed by it. I don't think you can undo. I had to burn a second Voice invite when my mom did the same thing.

Anyone else with a spare invite, I would love to take it off your hands. Thanks - scythes at gmail dot com

For some reason, this app does not work for me. I entered the correct login info but when I refresh I don't get my VM.

Why is it if I delete a voicemail from the Google Voice website and even delete it permanently from the trash, when I open up Visual Voicemail, it'll sync and download any new voicemails but not remove old ones that I've already deleted on the server? That is annoying, I want the App to stay clean and not cluttered with a bunch of test voicemails..

Supposing I use my Google Voice number for other things, but I still want GV to replace my Pre's voicemail. Is there any way to have calls forwarded from my cell go directly to voicemail and not ring my other phones?

ETA: Never mind. If you go into the options for each individual phone, you can set how calls forward.

I have an extra GV invite. PM me!

I'm a full time GV user and the benefits are immense:
- Visual Voicemail ofcourse (I use GDial Pro).
- I hardly use ANY peak minutes on my Sprint plan.
- I LOVE listening to people leave a voicemail.
- The ability to record all my conversaions with my ex-wife. PRICELESS..
- A copy of ALL text messages are stored online. Hey, ya never know.
- The ability to block certain numbers is awesome. The intercept message sounds sooo real!!
- GOOG411 is slick as a snake drowning in an oil spill.
- Screening calls is a nice perk.
- I can change my number if I ever need to with ease.. Nice..
- Using GV sorta fixes that CDMA issue where if take a 2nd call and wish to disconnect 1 of them, you end up disconnecting both parties. With GV, the party that was on hold will ring back.. Handy..
- I love having my cell, work and Majic Jack phones all ring simultaneously.
- My GV and Sprint calls all go to one voicemail box thats emailed, transcribed and stored online.
-Oh, and it's free.

What I don't like:
- Web-dial is too unpredictable & dial out is very slow.
- I have lost a few incoming calls (likely cause I screen EVERY call).
- Can only send texts to 1 person at a time.
- Can't send attachments via SMS.
- It can be a bit scary sometime on very important calls (like job interviews). It's quite rare, but the GV system has interrupted a call or 2 on me in the past.

Overall, though GV can be a bit cumbersome, it saves me money, gives me complete control over who I wish to speak to and the online options are way too good to pass up.

GV and Pre are a match made in heaven.

I've been a GV user almost from the beginning of invites. I cannot LISTEN to the voicemails on the Pre. Works fine on my Hero. It used to go to the player and would give an error message. Now it does nothing when I tap play. Anyone else experiencing this?

I still want a decenmt video recording solution from Palm!!! PLEASE?!?!?!? Precorder is nice but it's still early in dev. I know they can do it!!!

I got a GVoice invite, and set this up. For what it is, it is ok. A few things I wish for another app/update if possible.

1) Not to have the VM over speakerphone if I am listening to voice mail

2) The name of the contact, if you have the phone number associated with a contact

3) Swipe to delete would be nice

I just wish Palm had this integrated into the Pre nativly, it would be so much better than having to try and find a 3rd party work around/app.

I'm with you on the speaker phone issue, they need to fix this.

If you sync your contacts with Google contacts it associates the name and number.

I use a dedicated email account for voicemails and I can swipe to delete from the phone while keeping a copy in Google Voice.

I find this works much better than the GV apps if all your using is the voicemail service.

PLS INVITE ME! - please PM an invite to me if you can. It would only take a second and would be greatly appreciated!

PM me your email address and I'll be happy to invite you!

does anyone else have a problem with GDial Pro not playing back voicemail? I tap listen, it looks like its loading the message, but then nothing happens. EDIT: searched the forums and apparently if you have your ringer off it wont play the message. go figure.

Does anyone have an extra invite to spare. thanks

I have 1 invite to hand out if anyone needs it. PM me and I'll get it to you. First come first serve.

I'm a little slow... I don't know how to PM... lol

If you've still got it, please send me an invite...


I almost didn't see your reply. Invite has been sent. Enjoy!


Can someone explain to the newb (me) what the ap visual voicemail does that text messaging does not?? I have a google voice account, it works. I downloaded the visual voicemail ap per this article, and it works, I guess .... but the SMS portion of google voice does atleast this much and maybe more. I can swipe to delete in SMS, granted its not really deleting deleting, but I can atleast organize my voice mails ...... anyone? Bueller? Bueller?

An invite would be much appreciated... if anyone can help, I would be grateful.

Very interesting to see the different ways users here put VVM to work!

PM me and I'll get my last invite out to you.

Edited: Sorry. When I responded to you, I didn't see that someone else already specifically requested my invite and I promised first come, first serve, so I gave it to them. I apologize.

Hopefully someone else in the community will be able to hook you up.

Thanks anyway, and thanks for being honest and accomodating the first guy.

... Anyone else?

has anyone had a problem with not being able to text between two phones on a google voice account? (i just added my wife's phone and my phone to a google voice account and she can't send me text messages anymore...)

I need a google voice invite!!!

Err... maybe it's late and I'm on some sort of drug, but what is the *28 supposed to do?? I don't even have STEP 2 done (activate google VM..)???

Ever since I have been using GV\GDP, I have ALWAYS had my GV calls go to GV. They call my GV number, I don't answer\ignore the GV inbound (or my Pre's in usb mode), and my party goes straight to my GV VM with an SMS alert 5-10 secs or so later? I then launch GDP (which saves last screen) already loaded to the "history" page and click on the missed call to see\listen to the message.

SMS transcribes the messages (perfectly so far), and it's one tap to listen versus with email, I have to click the "play" in the email, then click the downloaded sound file so it will stream to the media app, and then close all 3 windows. It's more steps that way whereas SMS to GDP is only 2.

if anyone can spare a google voice invite please send me one to

Add me to the list of those asking for a google voice invite. If anyone has a spare one lying around I would appreciate it. (Ebemi77 at gmail dot com)

I may have missed it somewhere, but can you get a Google number and use it for your sprint number too? I dont have a home phone, so I though about getting the Google number to use as a home phone number. Would like the VVM also for my Pre number, as friend and family all have that numer.

Of course first I need a invite. Ive been waiting for a month now. If anyone has a extra, could you send me one.

The article implies that you need to use email or SMS get notified when new voicemail arrives. At least for gDialPro, that doesn't seem to be true - gDialPro throws up a notification for new voicemail, even if the app isn't open.

There's an advanced preference in dDialPro for update frequency; I've got it set to 15 minutes. Just left myself a test voicemail to confirm, and about 15 minutes later got a gDialPro notification on my Pre even though the app wasn't launched.

I've got the subset Visual Voicemail app installed and set up too. I don't see a preference for update frequency, and so far (30 minutes since leaving that test voice mail) no notification. Either VV doesn't support background notification, or the update frequency is longer than 30 minutes.

For all you folks waiting for google voice invites (one person said they were waiting for a month!), I just followed the article's advice and picked up 3 google invites for $2 and change off e-bay. It took all of 5 minutes to shop and buy, and 1/2 hr before I received the invites in email.

I just love leaving myself funny messages and seeing how Google transcribe software interprets them...

I left the following message for myself, a line from the most popular song of the movie Mary Poppins:

"Supercalifragilisticexpialadocious, if you try to say it fast it really sounds precocious"

and here is what Google Voice transcribed it into:

"Super. Tele fragile mystic X P, Jacelyn delicious. If you tried to say it's fast relief. Sounds precocious."

I have 2 Voice invites and 6 Wave invites for anyone who wants em.

Email me at and I'll send them out first come first serve.

On a side note, God I wish the news comments linked to your forum profile so we could just use PMs e_e

Hi Cin, sent you an email for the voice invite. Thanks!

All the voice invites I had are sent, sorry for anyone who didn't get them :(

Still have some Wave invites for anyone interested though.

I checked this morning 12/4/09 and Sprint indicated to me that conditional call forwarding is NOT free...

I just got off the phone with a Sprint Rep. who said conditional call forwarding is free.

I don't have google voice can someone shoot me an invite to Its appreciated!!

what is the difference between Gdial pro and Gdial pro homebrew?

I have a question. I have followed the instructions to the tee and Im at the point of launching Visual Voicemail and entering my google username and password but it doesnt go anywhere. The sign in page just keeps refreshing. Anyone know why and what I do about it?

why cant you use your gmail to send emails to for voicemail alerts? Sometimes my aol sync is broken.

Nevermind with the question regarding the sign in page refreshing. In preferences under "Web" I had 'accept cookies=NO'. Changed to yes and worked fine. Someone else may have this problem though so I thought Id update


what is the difference between Gdial pro and Gdial pro homebrew?

what is the benefit of having visual voicemail this way if the transcribing is bad? Am I missing something? I thought that was the purpose of VVM.

great instructions and now charge now confirmed for the sprint forums
one question i do have is do you have to have this app open all the time for this to work or will it pop up when you get vmail

Can someone please be kind enough to send me an inivite to I would glady appreciate it.

For anyone with a remaining google voice invite, could certainly use it. Thank you in advance! My email is


I can't find the "visual voicemail" app anywhere. Any ideas?

mooney I'm pretty sure they took it down, you can now just use rhe web app from google I think it's not sure tho; now all you need is an invite which is where I'm at

Good luck for the project. I am sure people will be happy to hear about it. The team is performing great too.. Buy Backlinks

I was wondering if anybody that has an extra Google Voice invite they are not saving for anyone in particular if they could send it to me? I have been waiting a long while, I am sure others have also, however I would really appreciate your kindness. If OK please send to Thanx!


I cant find any of the apps for visual voicemail mentioned in this article. all i could find was P2googleVoice on preware. Does anyone know if they were taken off the app catalog and if they were if you can get them from homebrew or if there is another option other than the web app?