Dynamic Forwarding Control

Quite a few of power Talkatone users asked us setup advise on how they can configure Google Voice account so the call will go to Talkatone first and only if Talkatone is not available would go to direct mobile number.

E.g. many users would prefer to talk over Talkatone for free with regular cell channel as “backup”.

Yes, Google Voice have “Call Forking” feature where they can ring both Talkatone and mobile device at the same time, however, there is no way to delay call to direct mobile line. And without that delay there is race condition with different outcomes depending on who gets call first:

on iOS the behavior is following:

  • if Talkatone gets call first it will show notification and then over-the-air cell call would take over and very often will kill data call
  • if direct mobile line will get call first – well in most of cases the data call wouldn’t even ring over the cell call

Behavior on Android is even worse, as we are doing exactly the same thing as built-in “phone” app is doing – forcibly taking over complete screen to show accept call interface. And when 2 apps “ring” the device at the same time “The Mortal Combat” is going to happen with obvious victim – quite often this battle just kills the device, so you would need to pull the battery out.

One of the users suggested solution for this problem: control forwarding rules in Google Voice dynamically. E.g.

  • When Talkatone connects to server it will disable call forwarding to direct mobile number
  • Upon disconnect of the app (user terminates app or it is loosing network connection) the server will restore forwarding to direct mobile number, so you can use it as “fallback”

This optional feature is included in the Android version of Talkatone v0.6 which we released earlier today and available for Premium users.

We will include this feature into next update of iOS version of the Talkatone as well.

Note: Dynamic Forwarding Control is not compatible with Push notifications: when you enable “Push” – you are always ON, so we cannot control forwarding to other destinations.

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21 Responses to Dynamic Forwarding Control

  1. andy o says:

    I’m not sure if it depends on which version of Android, but right now in ICS-based Cyanogenmod 9, can’t dismiss the incoming call screen in order to answer in Talkatone. This makes the free version basically unusable for incoming calls. I understand the need for premium features, and the dynamic thing is a clever workaround, but the functionality of being able to answer calls without trouble is a basic thing. How about a simpler fix for free users, like Groove IP does, and I think the other GV VOIP does too, which is to take over the screen a second time, after the native calling screen takes over?

    • andy o says:

      Just want to be clear about the post above. It’s not a problem of the Android version, I was just pointing out that my phone on CM9 can’t dismiss the incoming call screen manually (without sending to carrier’s voicemail) so I can manually answer in Talkatone. It would be a workaround for Talkatone getting taken over, which doesn’t happen with the other GV VOIP apps.

      • talkatone says:

        Andy,

        There is no good solution in general case. Ideal solution would be for Google to implement delay while forwarding call over cell channel (e.g. ring chat first and then few seconds after ring cell).

        The manual workaround is to control forwarding options manually turning on or off depending on situation (e.g. do whatever DFC is doing, but manually) keeping only one forwarding option enabled at the time.

        Other apps: we actually do exactly same thing with taking over the screen (the code is “inspired” from whatever stock “phone” app is doing on vanilla android), but it really comes down to race condition – which call (voip or cell) is received first and what each device will do in such situation (e.g. it’s device specific to keep screen grabbed by first arrived call or yield it to second one). And yes, we have slightly different “signaling” patch which may affect timing compared to receiving call using other apps. Moreover, the impact depends on multiple factors – in some situation call to talkatone may be coming sooner in some later – it depends on having better connectivity to our server (in this case call to talkatone would be coming sooner comparing to other apps which use direct connecting – based on your IP address we believe it may be the case, as we have better peering with your ISP than Google) vs better connectivity to Google directly (in this case call to talkatone would be delayed comparing to what it would be in direct connection case).

        Moreover, on CDMA devices cell call may just kill all 3G data connections leaving no VoIP answer option.

        Summarizing, based on your IP address (and assuming you use Talkatone from it), we believe that call to talkatone just arrives little bit earlier than it would when you use apps with “direct” connection and it makes the all difference: over the air/cell call comes later than talkatone’s taking over the screen.

        Normally we don’t discuss the cost and our decisions what is included into free vs paid option. But we believe it would’t hurt if we provide some background.

        We have to maintain significant infrastructure which comes with significant cost to provide these features. DFC cannot be implemented purely client-side (when you lost network connection – you lost it having no chance to tell Google to restore forwarding option). So this is one of unique features we can provide, but it is being part of bigger one comes with significant cost (we actually quite underestimated cost of this portion of service – it’s MUCH higher than audio processing). We don’t have nice venture funding as some other mobile apps have (certainly we would love to have $40M in venture funding which we can spend to cover all service costs for few decades keeping app completely free for everybody).

        So we have to have some ways to cover our costs and one of them is charging professional users for value-added features, keeping basic service free for everybody.

        Yes, we have many different types of users. For example we don’t feel comfortable to charge teens who’s parents cannot afford yet another cell phone, but teens want to talk/text to their boy-friends/girl-friends. We also don’t want to charge people who’s line got cut for lets say non-paying the $100/mnth cell bill. There are many other categories of users whom we don’t want to charge.

        However, we believe it’s fair to charge heavy users who use the service extensively and with high probability they would use some those value-added features for business purposes. (like support of multiple GV accounts is one of them). That said we believe that DFC is “convenience” feature, where most of casual users can simply live without it by manually disabling forwarding to direct cell number. So, DFC is sort of “High Availability” feature and we believe it’s fair to charge for it.

  2. Sandra says:

    I use talkatone app for incoming and outgoing calls over wifi and I don’t have a cell phone company anymore, this is what I done:

    1. Download Talkatone app on your Iphone
    2. Port your cell phone number to google voice (takes about a day for port to complete, cost $20.00)
    3. sign in talkatone app with your gv email and password
    4. get a mifi router from sprint, tmobile whatever company you want to get, I have ispot on the go or home router with unlimited wifi 4g $25.00 a month its a old plan from clear, they don’t sell the ispot anymore but you can find one on ebay and the person selling them will transfer there $25.00 a month service to you if you buy the ispot make sure description says it or ask if they will do that for you, ispots are restricted to apple devices but you can unrestricted it instructions are on the internet very simple process once you do it, you can use it with any laptop, desktop, or smartphone. get unlimited 4g plan, make sure you have good coverage in the main places you go or in some spots you can pick up free wifi spots but are not very reliable unless you go to a coffee shop or mcdonalds etc…I leave my ispot on all night all day and I never miss a call!! Hope this helps someone who’s looking to do this type of set up.

    • Matt says:

      I do it the same way with my ispot, but also have a cheap prepaid plan from Page Plus when not in 4G service areas. That way I’m always covered if my ispot runs out of battery or I’m out of service areas. It’s cut my cell phone bill from $101.80 to $12 for 3G/cell coverage. I wouldn’t go completely 4G though, it’s spotty as heck.

  3. disway says:

    My temp solution, is to set my mobile phone’s Ring Schedule within GV settings to Do Not Ring between certain hours on weekdays, and set Always Ring on weekends. So at least when I am at work, or go home over lunch hour, where I have wi-fi access at both places, I can receive calls directly in Talktone and not being bothered by the mobile call pickup.

    • Sandra says:

      Or you can port your cell number to google voice and when someone calls you it rings talkatone app.

      • disway says:

        I was having the issue (or not an issue) of having both the phone and Talktone ringing at the same time. The idea is to pick up the Talktone and avoid picking up the mobile call but the system sets the mobile call as its priority (which makes sense). So setup GV not to ring the mobile # (which I had already ported) during certain hour kind of helped (google won’t call your mobile # but Google Chat would pick up the call) but of course it’s not a great solution.

  4. Carson Leh says:

    I’ve just been setting my phone on airplane mode when in wireless range. It’s not automatic but it keeps GV from forwarding it to my carrier number.

  5. Paul Ling says:

    I found a problem when you enable both dynamic forwarding control and Wifi only connection. When you are in wifi range, the GV call forwarding to mobile number is disabled by talkatone after talkatone connected to server. You went out of wifi range or disable wifi of the phone, then talkatone lost connection with server and doesn’t enable forwarding in GV automatically via cell data. The result is the user never get incoming call any more until back to wifi connection. I think if the user enable dynamic forwarding control feature, talkatone should re-enable forwarding in GV via cell data if wifi connection lost.

    • talkatone says:

      Connection is enabled/disabled by SERVER.

      However, in some situations (like total loss of WiFi connection), it may take upto 10 minutes to detect that connection had been lost.

  6. Matt flowers says:

    Right now I use this app on my iPhone. I get horrible cell reception at my house. I would love the option to switch on the app forward to cell or run on wifi. That way when im home I receive calls via wifi and when I leave home the calls are forwarded to my mobile phone number. Basically I want the option in app to switch back and forth from forward to mobile and run off wifi or 3G

    • talkatone says:

      It sounds like you need to enabled “WiFi-only” in Talkatone + Dynamic Forwarding Control, so while on 3G your calls will get forwarded to mobile number, but while on WiFI Talkatone will be receiving them.

      • wintermoot says:

        Could I request a feature for dynamic forwarding? When this is enabled (I use wifi-only also) and I am on Wifi – SMS and Voicemail notifications do not go to my Cellular number.

        To continue receiving them, I enabled Receive SMS and enabled email forwarding on google voice.

        However, this causes a problem when I am not on Wifi. I am able to get SMS forwarded to my cellular number when talkatone disconnects, but when I return to Wifi I get notifications of previous messages when talkatone re-connects.

        Could you make it an option to tie SMS forwarding and SMS Voicemail Notifications to dynamic forwarding?

        This way I do not get duplicate notifications when returning to wifi? Right now I have to pick between duplicate notifications or get no notifications at all when on wifi-only + dynamic forwarding.

      • talkatone says:

        This option is not feasible without risk of loosing SMSes at all:

        When we retrieve list of SMS from Google Voice server we don’t know which had been also forwarded to your mobile number.

  7. Dang says:

    Has this been implemented on the Iphone (IOS) yet? And is this available for Premium User only?

    • talkatone says:

      Yes, it is implemented on iOS and available for Premium users only.
      DFC can be activated by going to Settings in Talkatone and tapping on your Google account there (it’s per account setting, as you can have multiple accounts).

  8. My understanding is DFC is not compatible with the newer push feature so you should not enable push if you want to use it.

    • talkatone says:

      Yes, that’s correct.

      When you enable “Push” – you are “always on”, so we cannot control toggling of other forwarding destinations.

    • Sandra says:

      In order to use Talkatone as your main calling feature, you have to port your cell phone number to google voice cost $20.00. Once your number is ported, when people call your cell phone number calls will come in straight from Talkatone, thats what I did and it works great!

  9. Jill Lewis says:

    I originally had configured google voice to send to talkatone and my backup phone. I was doing this in case I lost wifi access. I was getting spotty results with this setup in that talkatone wasn’t always ringing. I reconfigured google voice to only send to google chat (as suggested in your very helpful instructions somewhere), and I then set up dynamic forwarding in talkatone to have calls go to my backup phone whenever I lose wifi access with my talkatone phone. This seems to be working beautifully. There can be a delay, as previously noted, apparently due to the server not knowing that the talkatone phone has lost its connection, but I can live with that. The time frame is so small that it’s not likely I will often get calls in that very small window.

    I am loving the service so far, and this dynamic forwarding feature alone makes the premium service worth the cost. Thank you!

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