Ask LH: Are There Any Google Voice Equivalents In Australia?

Dear Lifehacker, Is there any equivalent/substitute for a fully optioned Google Voice service available in Australia? I would like to be able to use an app on my phone to send and receive texts and calls from an Australian mobile number.

This isn't for nefarious purposes — I'm a counsellor and deal with clients that I want to be available for, but also do not want to share my actual personal mobile number with. Any suggestions? Thanks, Cautious Counsellor

Phone picture from Shutterstock

Dear CC,

We've long lamented the absence of Google Voice in Australia, and to be honest it seems less and less likely we'll ever see it. Much of the development effort Google once put into Voice is now concentrated on Google+, Android and Hangouts, so the odds of it expanding outside the US, always minimal, now seem essentially non-existent.

The most obvious way to achieve a separate number in Australia is to purchase a dual-SIM phone (Kogan sells one, and ALDI regularly has specials) and then use one number for "work" and the other for your personal life. This isn't as cheap or flexible as the potential Google Voice solution — you'll have to pay for both SIMs and it isn't an option for iOS — but it will give you the option of clearly distinguishing between call types. If readers know of alternative approaches, we'd love to hear about them in the comments.

Cheers Lifehacker

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Comments

    Amaysin have a pay as you go plan that cost $5.00 per 90 days.
    http://www.amaysim.com.au/mobile-plans/amaysim-as-you-go.html
    So using that sim for incoming calls in a dual sim phone would only cost you approximately $1.70 a month.

      Minimum recharge for amaysim is $10, not $5

    What about the WhatsApp acquisition of facebook.. didn't they say they were going to add a VoIP like option to it?

    A VOIP service that supports G729 and offers it free to customers who use their app is what you want. The G729 codec costs money to license, but most VOIP companies have it available for free using their apps.

    The G729 codec uses tiny amounts of bandwidth (about 48kbps) so it is both cheap on data and excellent in quality. This codec was built for poor quality and congested internet connections.

    $5 a month (or $59 a year) with MyNetFone will give you a direct dial in number and a certain amount of free calls. (neosaver yearly is the plan i'm on)

    It gives you a local landline number for the city you are in, so for a counseller it has the added benefit that clients can call it from a payphone for a flat fee of 40 cents (or whatever payphones charge now).

    Another option is to get a 1800 number that diverts over to your mobile - could be an expensive way to go though.

    Last edited 26/02/14 10:44 am

      are you still with MyNetFone? is there a lag when receiving calls? when I use skype, the person ringing hears 5-6 rings already then my phone starts to ring. is it the same with MyNetFone?

    Google Voice (GV) does three things off the top of my head:
    1 - Diverts all calls to your GV number to any number you want
    2 - Gives you a cloud based SMS inbox
    3 - Gives you a cloud based Voicemail box

    The first option can be done with VOIP/SIP providers and other solutions provided by other commenters, whereas the other 2 have more difficult solutions.
    I haven't been able to find a complete solution, with the best for #2 in using apps built for an Android phone.
    MySMS, MightyText and DeskSMS all provide a "cloud" based solution for SMS using either a browser or an app to receive/send SMS. Your Android phone is used as a "SMS Server" and receives/sends SMSes. There is at least one solution for a jailbroken iPhone using the same idea called something like "Remote messages" but only offers a browser based interface.
    Since I don't use Voicemail, I haven't found a solution for #3.

    Thanks all for the advice. The VOIP/SIP option was one I hadn't thought of. I've now set up iSIP for iOS with my Internode Nodephone number (a nice convenient NSW landline number that I never otherwise use) so at least it's something. To date, I can't get it to receive calls unless I actually have the phone unlocked and the iSIP app open, but at least callers now have a landline number where they can leave a voicemail that gets emailed to me as an audio file and I can call them back.
    Still no solution for sending/receiving texts from an iOS app using a pseudo-Australian mobile phone number, but that's of less concern. And maybe, hopefully (but probably not), the iPhone 6 will have dual SIM capability! And I'll have a closer look at the MyNetFone & DeskSMS etc options also suggested.
    Cheers
    CC @ OP @ swift

    You seriously have to look at Skype.... You can get a number local to most areas, the rates are very cheap and the quality is excellent. Although using your Skype number as your outooing number doesn't work (thanks telstra) you can use your mobile number or make it private

    Skype is the cheapest solution, I purchased a premium account get unlimited calls to LAN and Mobile in 50 countries for $116 per year that is not a typo https://secure.skype.com/catalog/buy/premium

    Then for $40 per year you can buy an Australian number so people can call you back directly.

      Be careful. Skype is about to change their rates and have introduced a new Premium plan for unlimited calls to Australian LAN and mobiles which costs $209.99 / yr, though I noticed the old plan is still available for $116 / yr...
      https://www.ozbargain.com.au/node/164899

    with Skype the calls go to US or EU? then get forwarded to you. the person calling hears 5 rings already then your phone starts to ring. If the caller doesn't know that you are on skype he/she might hang up after 5-6 rings thinking you are not answering the phone.

    Last edited 23/12/14 4:34 pm

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