Update: Google Voice readying its Canadian launch?

Daniel Bader

November 20, 2012 9:26 pm

For many Canadians, the one Google service coveted above all others is Google Voice. The ability to have a single, centralized number forward to as many phones as you like, with the option to replace your carrier’s voicemail service with Google’s own (occasionally inaccurate) transcription service is incredibly convenient. Not to mention the fact that, in the States, you can port your number over to Google and make all your calls using the company’s low rates.

We’ve received a few tips that Google Voice can now be used to forward existing U.S.-based numbers to Canadian cellphones; in the past, this would have been impossible. And while it’s not yet possible to make outgoing calls using Google Voice from our Canadian phone — it results in a “Could not complete your call, please try again,” prompt — calls made to our Google Voice number are being correctly routed to our local number.

Similarly, text messages sent to our Google Voice number were correctly forwarded to our Canadian phone, which means that you can begin giving out your GV number to friends in the States without having an international text plan. Texts came through both in the Google Voice app and as a regular SMS, though it was routed through a U.S. distribution centre; replying in the Messages app would be an international text, but doing so from within the GV app hits a local 416 number.

It all sounds confusing, likely because the service itself isn’t fully operational, but at least you can perform some Google Voice functions you previously couldn’t. Voicemail hasn’t yet been set up for Canadian carriers, and possibly never will, but you can have friends and family leave messages on your GV number without incurring long-distance charges by calling your Gmail address from inside the browser.

You’ll still need to circumvent regional restrictions imposed on Canadian IP addresses to access Google Voice for the first time. You also need an active U.S. number to activate the service for the first time. Once you’ve set it up — either by rerouting your IP using a VPN, or by going to the States and connecting to the service over WiFi or a prepaid SIM card with data — you’re good to go.

Another indication that a Canadian Google Voice launch may be imminent is that the Android app is no longer restricted to download; while it’s not yet searchable on Google Play, you can download it from a direct link.

Update: OK, looks like there are quite a few caveats here.

First, to be able to install the Google Voice app on Android, your account has to have at least one phone with a U.S.-based number. Because I have a T-Mobile SIM registered to my Google account, I was able to force Google to push the GV app to my Rogers phone. Not sure how that works, but it does. If you can’t manage to get it to install, you’ll need to sideload it, which is available by searching for the .APK file on Google.

Second, it looks like only Canadian numbers inside the Android app are allowed to be confirmed. We’ve received reports that iPhone users cannot verify their Canadian numbers, which could mean that Google plans to keep Google Voice for Canadians inside the Android fold. It’s a stretch, but possible.

One of our readers claimed that Google, over the past few weeks, has been allowing some Canadians to purchase a new number on an existing account with a valid Canadian area code. This has since been turned off (and we can’t verify it was ever possible, but we’ll give him the benefit of the doubt) but it may indicate that Google is testing the service officially in our fair land.

It also looks like Google is slowly bringing in Canadian routing numbers, which is why outgoing calls on Android phones were working for some and not others. I was able to successfully make an outgoing local call this morning using GV on my Galaxy S III, and it routed through a 647- number. Yesterday, when I tried to do the same, it gave me the error above.

More information can be found in this (long) HowardForums thread.

Something is happening here, and it’s exciting. Stay tuned for more information.

(Thanks to everyone who sent this in!)

  • Andy

    I Orgasm’d.

    • Tom

      Wait a second.

      Google still has no way to get around the CRTC rule on foreign companies allocating Canadian phone numbers – the same thing keeping SkypeIn out (get it?).

      So the service would be rather limited (and I doubt they would do that).

    • CanadianMobileIndustry

      I know GVoice is work in progress, but the difference in ARPU between WIND ($28) and ROBELUS (Around $56) describes the dire position of the Canadian competitiveness.

      CRTC: PLease Allow Google Voice to Canada with all their features (You don’t have to “bring” them in just stop NOT LETTING THEM IN) AND ban the three year contracts just like in the rest in the world and the Canadian Mobile Industry will self-correct on its own in a couple of years.

      Or just let Foreign companies to come in and watch things self-correct in months.

    • CanadianMobileIndustry

      Does anybody see a pattern here??

      -ROBELUS has one of the highest ARPUs in the world.
      -The ARPU amongst ROBELUS is “Coincidentally almost the same.
      -Canada is the ONLY country wher 3yr contracts are not illegal.
      -Canada has a CRTC which is as helpful/active as my rotary phone.

      At $100 monthly plan + CID and VM+ Taxes; we are not very far from getting 2yr plans in NY city and ROAM 99% of the time AND STILL PAY LESS!.

      Bottomline the Canadian Mobile industry is not competitive and once the markets open ROBELUS will suffer, it has happened before; at the same time the CRTC should be helping but more expensive plans carry more taxes.

  • Jennifer

    Actually I was able to make phone calls with my GV #…

  • Mike

    BYE BYE ROBELLUS! hello Google Fiber, Google Voice, Google Wallet… GOOGLE DOMINATION…

    • johnnycage44

      Skynet take me now!

    • some guy

      Come with me if you want to live!

  • Nathaniel James

    Also waiting for 4.1 Jellybean for selected Canadian devices *cough* Htc One S *cough*

  • Dave

    wow, this is great, as a gradfathered Grand Central user, now can it GV to make call to US from Canada. If not, GV callback does work as well

  • Harris

    Good. I can’t wait to see ROBELLUS’ shares go down overnight.

    • some guy

      Who cares about the shares? Drop the rate plan prices.

  • Pike

    I just felt my balls tingle…

  • Mark

    Google just started blocking calls ringing back to Canadian numbers. Something is happening, who knows what. Too bad Google is slow to deliver products.

    • jfmanzo

      Yep. I’m lucky to live in the 403 area code (Calgary) and have exploited the GV loophole that let you use a 403 forwarding number for the last couple of years. It no longer works. I can still RECEIVE calls at my GV US number (219 area code so that my mom can call me for free from her NW Indiana landline), but I can’t make calls via GV callback anymore. The alternative, making calls via a US proxy which is how the iOS and Android official apps work, will end up costing you LOTS of money because they’re all treated as long distance calls to the US- not an issue for Americans who have unlimited domestic, but for anybody in Canada, you’re playing with fire there.

  • Brad F(anboy)

    F***ing finally.

  • deltatux

    PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE with cherry on top, release it Google?!?

  • Jon

    Use the Android app to verify your Canadian numbers. Many of us have done this and Google Voice now works forward ping to Canadian numbers and calling out through the app.

  • Stay Away from Mobilicity!

    Please Google, bring it ON!

  • Jeff

    Not sure about the other carriers but Telus 3g/4G let’s you easily forward to other voicemail providers with no extra charges – so long as you’re given a local access number.

    They don’t properly pass along the caller ID and call routing info so you NEED a dedicated local access number.

    I have successfully used both YouMail and Better Voicemail.

  • Neil

    LOL..

    I have had FULL google voice support for my canadian number forever!!

    Got in before it was bought by google!

    Long live GrandCentral!

  • cybik

    Options are available now. Google Voice, I HAVE DESIRED YOU SO MUCH. SO, SO MUCH.

  • Mr Mystery

    Doesnt work for me, tried adding my cell. Still says could not verify number.

  • kettal

    I can add 416 number, but cannot verify it :(

  • Will

    Google can’t verify my number neither.

  • yerallnuts

    The good news is that I was one of the lucky ones to get a 403 number a few years ago – works just great using FreePhoneLine.ca to forward to my cell (which means I don’t get SMS, but I can make and receive calls . . . .

    My question is whether Google will extend the free calling for (yet) another year?

  • TZM

    I can’t add a number and it says my phone number can’t be verified. wtf?

  • Doug C

    Holy f, puuulleeeeeassssee!!!!

  • Darius

    I just tried with my 647 number and it didn’t verify. I tried both on the Google Voice site and through the Android app. Anyone able to verify a 647 number yet?

    • everythingsablur

      I got my 647 number to verify, but I’ve also had Google Voice service since it was Grand Central. My mistake over the years however was that I changed Canadian cell numbers and thus lost the ability to have GV call me in Canada (always worked with my US cell numbers though).

  • DavidG

    I can’t install the Google Voice android app as mentioned in this post. Says not available in my country.

  • Andre

    This app is INCOMPATIBLE with your Galaxy Nexus. On Bell.

  • haxor99

    Telus Samsung Galaxy Nexus
    This item cannot be installed in your device’s country.

  • kenypowa

    Can’t verify 403 number as well.

  • Dave

    Ya same as others. won’t let me install the app in that link.

  • Tim3tripp3r

    I just installed this through the link (updated actually) on my GEDify’d Moto Xoom. D/L’d just fine, can’t wait for it to go primetime. The wireless industry on whole is changing so fast these days and this (when its fully implemented) is just one more nugget of gold.

  • Nitin Gaba

    Just downloaded it on my Rogers S3 but it will not install on my nexus… odd that it won’t work on a Google Nexus lol.

  • Joe

    Or perhaps you can have wind Mobile for $30 a month you get unlimikted calls to all over north america…

    • bobfreeze

      $40

    • TROLL

      And half the time your service will be unavailable and good luck finding a good connection or a area with coverage.

  • Jeremy

    I used the link myself to no problem with a Galaxy Note II on Rogers, and verified a Peterborough, Ontario number through the app.

  • Kris Pucci

    The GV app via the Play store still tells me it is not available in Canada.

    • Kris Pucci

      I should say that my devices are the SGS2 and SGS3.

  • simian

    Please please please let this be happening. If this comes true as well as Music in the CDN play store it’ll be the best xmas ever.

  • Justin

    AWESOME!!! THAT would be GREAT…..

  • DavidG

    I couldn’t download the app from google play store, but managed to sideload it.

    After that, I got myself a free US phone #, VPN’d to get a US IP, and got setup on Google Voice. Then from the android app was able to verify my Rogers #!!!

  • Mobile Man

    For those of you that the Google Voice app is not available from the playstore, just google “Google Voice apk”, select a result within xda developer, download and install on your phone.

    I have had a GV number for a while that I set up in the US. I cannot get Google voice to forward to my phone! I have tried a proxy server on both my phone and computer and still it will not accept my Canadian number! Not sure how the author of this article did it, but it does not seem to be possible!

  • Curtis

    Won’t verify a 604 number through the website, and isn’t prompting me to verify the number through the app.. hmm.

    • Curtis

      Had to delete the number from inside the app, and then the app let me verify it. Woo!

    • Jim R

      Hmmm, won’t verify my 604 number in the app. Using the “Add this phone” setting to try to do it.

      Get “Your phone number cannot be verified. Please try again.”

      Needless to say, trying again does not result in anything better happening.

  • chrisbroughton

    I have been a user of Google Voice since it was called Grand Central. Since then I have had no problems forwarding my calls to my Alberta based numbers from my 915 area code Google Voice number. I really wished I could great an Alberta based number but this is still good for my US based relatives to call me.

  • dc2000

    I’m in the same boat as you Mobile Man, and I refuse to re-register and lose my # that I have. C’MON GOOGLE!

  • asutt

    I can verify that this does work if you have an existing Google Voice number. In order to do this, you’re going to have to have either a physical American phone or, as I did, you can use an American skype-in number to verify the account. After this, the website will not let you add a Canadian forward number, but the app will. Confirmed that the forwarding is operational.

  • Jon

    Outgoing calls work for verified 416 numbers.

  • Paul

    I’ve had a GV number for a few months, installed the latest version of the app on my Nexus S (JB 4.1.2), but it won’t verify my 604 number on Rogers.

    • Paul

      I figured out why it wouldn’t work. I had to change the Default Country from Canada to US in Gmail Chat’s “Call Phones” settings. Once I did that, it verified my cell number without even having to send a SMS.

  • microchip01

    I have Google Voice with a US number.
    Just verified my 604 (Vancouver) number through the app, it wouldn’t verify through the website.
    Incoming and outgoing calls are working just fine through Google Voice which is new as of today.

  • Wilbour

    I set up my GV with my disposable American cell while in the US a few years ago. Yesterday I received an email from GV stating that since I have not been forwarding my calls to that disposable cell in a long time, they want to confirm this #. Looking at how to ad my Canadian Cell#. At home I have the Obihai unit and it works flawlesly! Since my GV # is in the town my inlaws live, they call a local # and it rings my home phone. When I call them I use my GV and it’s free as well.

  • Wilbour

    I thought I had this app but reset my phone. Now I can no longer find the app. I did manage to add my 613 Ottawa number but it wont verify :(

    • john_10

      I m in ottawa and have GV number for almost 2 yrs. Read this post and jumped to add my ottawa number. Tried all option..it is not working. I tried web.. GV app .. but it is not verifying my ottawa number

      I am with Bell. Anybody able to add bell cell number ??

  • guidaboo

    Is there an ISO app that will do the same thing?

  • Jeffrey

    This would possibly explain why Google opened up some Canadian offices recently, they are probably aiming to become a CLEC so that they can issue phone numbers. This would be a HUGE win in my books.

  • Alan

    Wonder if I can verify my number using an Android phone (put my sim in my daughter’s phone) and then be able to use it on my iPhone? Making outgoing calls isn’t imperative for me, as I use GV for voicemail and forwarding to my foreign sims (with VoIP.ms), but the option would be nice.

  • Zolutar

    I have google voice and until recently I could not save my Canadian phone number on my blackberry app, and now it does! Yay! I still cannot set the GV number itself to a Canadian number though.

  • everythingsablur

    I’ve had a GV account active since it was Grand Central. Earlier this year I hooked it to a new US cell phone number I have when working in the US.

    Using the GV website, I was able to add my Canadian 647 number this morning, and successfully verified it via the call back. I just installed the application directly through Google Play Store’s website (remote push install to device).

    The only thing it appears really doesn’t work is using GV to circumvent my carrier (TELUS) voicemail.

  • ShadowFist23

    Won’t verify my number either. *grumble*

  • Frank

    I’ll believe it when I see it. I’m not getting my hopes up again like I did with the apparent launch of Play Music that was actually an error.

  • Wilbour

    Ok, it has been done! I managed to add my Canadian Cell # and have it verified via the Android App. I called my GV # (American) and it was forwarded to my Canadian cell and the Caller ID was the actual # I was calling from (my Canadian Office). Bear in mind that all calls forwarded to your cell will count against your minutes but you can use the GV app over your data/wifi for outgoing calls. Combined with my Obi box at home this is amazing. I can call anywhere in North America for free from my home phone or using my Android app. My American family call a local number and I can receive it at home or on the road.

  • lambdacore

    So, even if this forwarding works, we still need a US number?

    So if someone wants to call me, they still have to call to an international number?

  • Wilbour

    Hey my glass is half full. How’s yours?

  • TROLL

    won’t verify my 514 number in the app

  • Jack S

    Some one post there US phone number so that I may verify.

  • noob

    sorry hope I don’t get thumbs downed for stupid question but if you use google voice on your cell phone isn’t this going to be counted as local minutes?

    If it’s data, how much data does 2000 minutes of talk use?

    Maybe I’m confused and not grasping this whole thing at all…

    - just another robelus sucker

    • Wilbour

      When a call is forwarded it is minutes. When you use GV app it’s data or Wifi. If you don’t have a generous data plan I would stick with WiFi only….but as of right now outgoing with GV app does not work.

  • Jack S

    Someone post there new google us no, so that I can use it to verify.

  • Dave

    514, doesn’t work for me :/

    “Country of the forwarding phone does not match your country.” Tried both U.S. and Canada

  • dubs

    Couldn’t verify my Telus 613 number through the app.

  • Wilbour

    Jack S

    What are you asking for? You want someone to post their US GV # so you can test what? You think we are lying about out calls being forwarded? Nobody understands what you are going to verify.

  • john_10

    Ok .. anybody who can’t verify Canadian number via GV app make sure that there is at least one valid US number linked to you account.

    If you have used IPKall to get google voice couple of months back.. make sure remove and add a valid US number.

    Once that done got to you android phone, download app and it will verify you cell number. Don’t try to add Canadian number diretly via web.

    hope it helps

  • kenypowa

    Thanks it worked!!!!

  • SomeGuy

    The CRTC is a failure in almost all aspects. They were created to lessen “American influence”, which they clearly are NOT doing. Instead they make Canada less efficient and pass unnecessary “laws”. New Twitter trend; #DownWithCRTC

  • Daniel AJ

    I’d love to FWD from my US Google Voice # to my Canadian #. Sadly, I can’t verify my Canadian number on Google Voice. I guess it was a short window where it worked.

    Why Google didn’t offer that from the outset I dunno.

    • Wilbour

      Looks like if this is a cell # and you use the Android app you can have it verified. Unfortunatly it’s only for incoming. Mine wont allow outgoing calls

  • Jsm777

    This worked on my android (galaxy nexus) activating my 514 number using the google voice app. My girlfriend has a blackberry I took her sim in my phone and activated her 514 number. Now it works with her google voice application on her blackberry perfectly :-)

  • Matth

    It’s been like this for awhile. I’ve used the texting in Canada since GV’s inception as i frequented the US often. Calling has also worked. Pretty sure this isn’t new and I’ve done it with an iPhone and android.

  • Tal

    Any chance guys -those who managed to verify – that you can also get the app to port your numbers TO google voice now?

  • Tal

    Ok, I tried it myself.

    Through a US IP address I upgraded my GVoice account and asked for a US number. I verified through a US phone number.
    Then downloaded the GVoice app to my Canadian mobile, and over a Canadian network asked inside the app to add my number to my forwarding phone list. IT WORKED.

    I then tried to switch my US GVoice number to a Canadian number. I alo tried to port my Canadian number to GVoice. It is NOT supported at this time.

    For me the real benefit will be when I can port. But I can see how this is a step in the right direction.

    Moreover, 2 weeks ago, for a limited time, Skype had Canada as an option in the Skype number purchase page. When I clicked on it – I got a notification that they are out of numbers ATM. I contacted a rep on the forum, you can find that thread, and soon after that option was taken down. Sources say that Skype is readying Canadian numbers too.

    Its all probably to happen Jan 2013.

  • Will

    Why would you want to switch your US GVoice Number for a Canadian number? It’s better to keep it as a US number, and have your calls forwarded to your Canadian number. It’s far more versatile for callers that way.

  • Will

    I’ve always had 2 US GVoice Numbers. I have successfully added 2 604 numbers to 2 different accounts using the GVoice Android app, confirmed, verified and working.

    In Vancouver, all the GVoice calls are routed to a 778 local number. I think Google Voice is FINALLY coming to Canada. YAY! :)

  • Darren Clarke

    I can confirm that it works from my 416 number, but I did have US number previously set up.

  • EG6

    I just tried this on my phone, and I can verify that my 604 number has now been verfied in the “This phone’s number” field.

    Calling out with Google Voice results in you dialing a 778 number, which means that we’re calling locally to connect to the Google Voice service. This means we won’t be dinged with having to dial a long distance number just to connect.

    FWIW – I had recently setup my Google Voice account while I was in Seattle. I had a pre-paid T-Mobile sim card with me, and I used that number when I logged into voice.google.com. I ended up choosing a 702 Nevada State phone number as my Google Voice number.

    That same 702 number was what showed up on my brother’s caller ID when I tested an outgoing call to his phone just now.

  • nexus4

    I was able to install Gvoice on my nexus4 from the Play link in the blog post. I could not search play store for it though.

  • Saucy

    Awesome Sauce!

  • baslam

    Well this was back in November. Any updates after that?

  • Wade

    If Google Voice is ever allowed to come to Canada, I predict all rate plans (for all carriers) will go up.

    Right now what the phone companies do is advertise their “best price” on whatever voice/data pkg they got, but charge an “arm and a leg” for voicemail to make up for it. It reminds me of how they used to not include the taxes on those last minute flight deals.

    Google Voice will eliminate the need to pay the $7-$8 / month for voicemail, and may cause other add-ons (such as Canada/US long distance) to be further devalued as well, and that’s just flat out lost revenue for them.

  • Laurie Baggio

    Have you heard anything further on this?

  • Reality_check_777

    Ha! This is about as plausible (GV available in Canada) as the next iPhone (5S) will have a 5.2 inch screen….in other words, it ain’t gonna happen.

    • Matthew Lebl

      Okay so we’ll all protest against it when it comes to Canada. “Heresy! Google is full of devil worshippers, for the Great Oracle Reality_check_777 has declared that GV shall not come to Canada! Heresy, heresy!”

  • George Kirko

    Telus rogers and bell apply all possible and impossible efforts to stop it. Welcome to canada.

  • Dean Malcolmson

    By the way, who hates Rogers, Bell and Telus as much as I do? These companies have done more harm than good for Canada in the last 20 years. But, their shareholders are laughing all the way to the bank.

  • Dean Malcolmson

    I suspect the big-3 (Rogers, Bell and Telus) are doing everything possible to stop Google Voice from making it’s way to our shores. Does this surprise anyone? I hate those companies, they are putting us behind in telco. When they take a step forward, it never makes up for the 2 steps back they took month’s previous.