Unified Caller ID on Google Voice and Skype

Google Voice just got a lot better by adding additional Skype support. You can make calls using Skype and have the recipient see your Google Voice number on their Caller ID.

I've been using the combination of Google Voice and Skype as my office phone for well more than a year. It works great. But there was one piece missing -- when I made an outbound call using Skype, recipients saw my Skype phone number on their caller ID.

I don't want that. I don't want people calling my Skype number. I don't want people calling any number for me other than my Google Voice number. It makes life simpler that way.

The solution I've found until now was to go to Google Voice on the Web, and dial the call from there. But that was inconvenient, it added a few extra clicks.

Now, Skype and Google Voice offer the ability to set your Google Voice number as your Skype Caller ID.

First, you'll need a Skype account, of course. That's free. Then you need to download and install the Skype software.

Next, go to the Skype Features page, and sign up to make outgoing, conventional phone calls using Skype. You can buy credits in increments of $10, or just pay for monthly services, starting at $2.95 per month for unlimited calling in the US and Canada.

Next, go to the Account page, and click Caller ID. There, you can set any of your phone numbers as the Caller ID number seen by the people you call using Skype. Enter your Google Voice number. Skype will send an SMS with a verification code to Google Voice. Enter that verification code into the Skype Caller ID Web page, and you're done. Skype says it takes 24 hours to activate.

This feature has been available from Skype for cell phones and other services, but it has not been available for Google Voice until now. Google said in an e-mail that there were technical barriers to receiving text messages from Skype, which have now been resolved.

So now you can make outgoing calls using Skype, and have the recipients of those calls see your Google Voice number. But what if you want to receive Google Voice calls through Skype? The only practical way I've found is to purchase a Skype phone number ($18 for three months, or $60 for a full year), and set your Google Voice to ring that number. I've seen various workarounds to connect Google Voice with Skype using Internet voice protocols, but I've found they don't work well.

As another alternative, Google offers its own Skype alternative, called Gizmo. I've found it doesn't work very well, but maybe you'll have better luck with it.

Yet another alternative: Forward your Google Voice calls to Gizmo, and your Gizmo calls to Skype. This eliminates the need to purchase a Skype number. I just learned about this option a few hours ago, I'm still trying it out.

Gizmo is a company that Google acquired, and presumably the Google elves are hard at work in their hollow tree working on converting Gizmo into a Google Voice desktop client. Indeed, they're reportedly testing out the software internally.

When Google acquired Gizmo, they shut down signups for new accounts, so you need to already have a Gizmo account to use it.

This is all nice on the desktop, but what about mobile users? Android users can use its native app, and iPhone users have a Web app for Google Voice.

P.S. Thanks to Lifehacker for the pointer about adding your Google Voice Caller ID to Skype.

Copyright © 2010 IDG Communications, Inc.

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