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