By Alok Saboo on November 15th, 2010
While the Apple iDevices (iPhone, iPod, and iPad) are great for the most part, the integration with Google Voice (a very important service for most of us) leaves a lot to be desired. Although Google Voice apps are making a comeback to the Apple app store (e.g., GV Mobile+ and GV Connect), they do not support Push notifications, making them less than perfect solution. We have looked at number of tutorials to enable Google Voice PUSH support on iPhone, iPod, or iPad (or using Prowl to enable Google Voice Push notifications). Today, we look at another (and possibly the best) way to enable push notifications on your Google Voice account. If you have GV Mobile+, GV Connect, or Infinite SMS GV, you can use this tutorial to enable Push support in these apps. However, even if you do not have these apps, you can use this tutorial to use the Google Voice mobile version (and it works surprisingly well).
We are going to use Boxcar for this tutorial. If you haven’t heard heard about it, Boxcar is a push notification management system for the iOS platform. Boxcar allows you to send Push Notifications from several services (e.g., Twitter, Facebook, Google) to your Apple devices. While the previous solutions sent the notifications, one had to manually open another app to act on the notification (e.g., reply to the text message). Boxcar eliminates this issue by automatically open the relevant app for you, taking third-party Push notifications one step closer to the stock notifications. You can download the Boxcar App from the App store (iTunes Link). The app itself is FREE (ad-supported), so go ahead and download it on to your iDevices.
Once you have Boxcar installed, you can setup various services in almost no time. While there are several services that can be used with Boxcar, for the purposes of this tutorial, we will restrict ourselves to Google Voice.
To add Google Voice notifications, just choose Google Voice from the services. You can set custom sound for your GV notifications, define the app that Boxcar will open when you receive the notification, and even customize the alert. Off the bat, Boxcar supports Google Voice apps such as GV Mobile+, GV Connect, and Infinite SMS GV. If you have any of these apps, just select the app and you are all set.
If, however, you do not have any of these apps and you do not want to pay extra for them, you are in luck. You can use Boxcar to redirect you to Google Voice mobile website and you can reply directly from there. Instead of selecting any of the app, just choose the Custom option and enter the Google Voice website address in the URL (https://www.google.com/voice/). Instead of opening GV website in Safari, Boxcar opens the website in the built-in browser, making the experience seamless.
Please note that you will have to forward your Google voice notifications to your Gmail address and create a filter to forward those notifications to your Boxcar address for this to work. The steps to forward notifications and create a Gmail filter are detailed in our earlier post. The following video tutorial provides a detailed walk through of the entire process.
If you want to use VoiceCentral BlackSwan (read our video review here) instead of the Google Voice mobile website, you can use the following URL to take you directly to the SMS tab:
This will open the VoiceCentral BlackSwan app instead the Boxcar App. In some ways, I prefer not using the HTML5 options (mobile website or Black Swan) as these do not load another app and hence are faster.
Boxcar is great utility that utilizes the URLs that these apps register internally to trigger these apps. For example, GV Mobile+ can be activated using the URL:
Similarly, GV Connect can be triggered using:
This is obviously not close to the native internal push notification system, but it is the best option so far. Until the official Google Voice app get’s approved, I don’t think we can get something better than this.
Share your experience on Boxcar or any other tool that you use to enhance your mobile VoIP (mVoIP) experience…