aNewDomain.net — I haven’t installed many apps lately on my Android based Samsung Galaxy Nexus smartphone and Google Nexus 7 tablet because I’m so satisfied with the excellent apps I have already. I’m a tough customer. But I recently found GrooVe IP for Android — a geeked-out tool for making VOIP calls for free — and, boy, am I impressed.
I reviewed GrooVe IP for Android Lite and put it through its paces.
Image credits: Ant Pruitt for aNewDomain.net
I’m a Google Voice subscriber and I’ve always wandered how I could make outbound voice over IP (VOIP) calls from my tablet. I know this isn’t a project everyone ponders, but a geek’s got to do what a geek’s got to do. I want multiple ways to utilize a service, protocol or gadget. Voice-over-IP services for free calls is a perfect example of what I’m talking about. GrooVe IP for Android Lite gives me the option to make and receive phone calls from my tablet quite easily. Just install the app, sign in with your current Google Voice account information — that’s required — and you’re set. Too easy? I looked for a catch. Scroll below for the results of my call quality tests and UI analysis.
The GrooVe IP for Android Lite dialer is straightforward. It’s similar to the current Android Jelly Bean dialer. There’s no swipe capability to navigate between the tabs. Conversely, you will have to tap the tabs to access them. And, there are ads on the bottom of the dialer — this is the free, lite version, after all. To its credit, Groove IP ads are fairly low profile. But if you’re sensitive to that, you’ll see them.
As for call quality, I found it varied depending on the equipment. I tested Groove IP with both the Google Nexus 7’s external mic and speaker and my own Samsung Galaxy Nexus ear buds and mic with varying results.
Using the Nexus 7’s hardware solely, call recipients mentioned feedback in the voice quality. I was audible, but the small amount of feedback was still noticeable. When tested with the Samsung smartphone earbuds, the call quality was far better. Great, even. I tested these scenarios with a few variables. First including calls to a land line versus a cell phone line. There were no noticeable differences based on the type of number I called.
I called these numbers and results are based on the signal strength of my home WiFi network. Fortunately, my bandwidth is pretty good, so even with low WiFi signals in dead areas of my home, the calls sounded pretty great. As VOIP calls are truly dependent upon the quality of your bandwidth, you’ve got to consider that. Those internet packets have to travel the web at a good bit rate to keep calls from sounding choppy or delayed. Your mileage may vary. According to its developer, SNRB Labs LLC, GrooVe IP for Android Lite calls run at a rate of about 1.2MB per minute.
I definitely recommend GrooVe IP as an option for free VOIP calling for your Android smartphone or tablet. These calls don’t use any of your cell phone’s billable minutes, after all. It’s all net based. Give GrooVe IP a try on your Android device and see what you think. You’ve got nothing to lose and almost everything to gain because, guess what, it’s free.
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