How To Set Up VoIP on the Motorola Droid on Verizon Wireless using Sipdroid for Free Calls

Motorola Droid cell phoneThis tutorial assumes you will be using Gizmo. To use Gizmo, you'll need an existing account.
If you don't have a Gizmo account, use an alternative SIP provider or purchase a Gizmo account on eBay. There are a lot of options, but I think Gizmo is the best. The last account I bought on eBay cost $5.

See this link for some alternatives if you don't have and don't want to buy an account Gizmo:  http://www.google.com/support/forum/p/voice/thread?tid=4fceba98c89deaed&hl=en

Assuming you have a Gizmo account, you may want to review this link for some general background:
http://support.gizmoproject.com/index.php?_m=knowledgebase&_a=viewarticle&kbarticleid=409

First, get your Gizmo (or other SIP provider) info ready.

On your Droid:

  • set up your WiFi network
  • install Sipdroid from the Market - I am running version 1.5.2 beta now (these same steps also worked with earlier versions going back to 1.2 beta)
  • open Sipdroid

Now go to Sipdroid settings and complete the sections listed below.

SIP account settings:

  • username: Gizmo username or Gizmo ID (1747*) will work. I used username.
  • password: Gizmo password
  • server: proxy01.sipphone.com
  • domain: leave empty
  • port: leave default (5060)
  • protocol: UDP is the normal choice. TCP can be used with PBXes.org and a few other providers. TCP can improve battery life, but it is not supported by all SIP providers. Here is the "official" explanation. 
    http://code.google.com/p/sipdroid/wiki/NewStandbyTechnique Keep in mind they are trying to sell you on PBXes.org's service plans (which are optional). I'm using Sipdroid without PBXes and it is fine.

Call Options:

  • use WLAN: check
  • use 3G: check, if you wish
  • use EDGE: Using EDGE might cause Gizmo to instantly drop your calls. It was a known bug (an incompatibility with the GSM compression codec used by Sipdroid 1.2 on EDGE networks). It may be fixed by the time you read this. There are new codecs now.
  • Voice Compression: only over EDGE 
  • Preferred call type: set as you wish
  • Check for voicemail: unchecked because Google Voice handles my voicemail, not Gizmo

Advanced Options:

  • Caller ID: leave blank due to the issue described in the "Sipdroid will not complete calls using Gizmo5" comment below. Your callers will still see your Google Voice number on their caller ID (assuming you have your Google Voice settings correct). If you follow my steps, caller ID will work correctly even when this option is blank.

Wireless & network settings:

  • Settings > WiFi Settings > Settings Button (again) > Advanced > WiFi Sleep Policy > Never

If you are using WiFi only (not 3g), if you don't set WiFi Sleep Policy to "never", Sipdroid will unregister when the screen turns off (because WiFi will go to sleep) and you will miss incoming calls. Without this setting, if you have 3G enabled (e.g., airplane mode is off), WiFi will go to sleep and your calls will come in over 3G, which is not desirable if you are in range of WiFi. So set WiFi Sleep Policy to "never".

All Sipdroid settings not listed above are left at default values. No need to change anything not shown here.

Set up Gizmo in Google Voice in your web browser

  • you can do this on your Droid or on another computer
  • browse to https://www.google.com/voice (requires existing accounts at both services -- if you don't already have a Gizmo5 account, see alternatives in a post below)
  • go to Settings > Phones
  • click "Add another phone"
  • name: Gizmo
  • number: +1747nnnmmmm
  • phone type: Gizmo

Place a test call:

  • if not already at the GV website, open a browser and go to https://www.google.com/voice (login, etc.)
    • You can use the browser on your phone or any other browser. Either way, you will be able to conduct the VoIP call from your phone.
  • click "call", enter a number, and choose "phone to ring" as your Gizmo phone.
  • Click connect.
  • Your Droid will ring. (If it doesn't ring, see troubleshooting steps below.)
  • Answer and you will be connected with the party you are calling.

This is pure VoIP solution. It does not use any voice minutes. It does not incur any Gizmo outgoing charges either. If you are on WiFi, this is a completely free solution.

You'll see entries in your Gizmo5 Call History like this:

Call Type     Start     Duration     From     To     Rate/min
Google Voice     09 December, 14:28:31     00:03:03     2125551212     17474741234     Free 

However, if you initiate the call from Sipdroid by dialing directly (rather than using callback) you will incur a small per minute VoIP charge from Gizmo for outgoing calls. It costs a fraction of what most cell plans charge. In fact, for me, if I just used Gizmo directly, it would cost about half what I paid for Vonage (which itself was a lot less than I paid previously). However, when combined with Google Voice, my Gizmo costs have been almost nothing. I have $9.23 left of the $10 I paid back in September, and most of that 77 cents was used by making test calls.

NOTE: with the latest version of Sipdroid, I can not initiate outgoing calls directly from Sipdroid. I have to initiate the calls from the browser on the phone. I did not have this issue with the prior version of Sipdroid, so maybe they'll fix it soon. UPDATE: this issue can easily be resolved. See follow up comment below.

2010 UPDATE: I recommend downloading the Google Voice Dialer by cpedia from the Android Market. It provides a very convenient way to do automatic callbacks for completely free calling. See http://code.google.com/u/cpedia/ or go to the Android market and search for cpedia.

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Troubleshooting steps

The most problematic issue I ran into was getting the Google Voice mobile website to initiate my calls. Actually, this is the only problematic issue I ran into.

To troubleshoot this, the first step is to use a browser on a regular computer and log in to https://www.google.com/voice. Call any contact, or use the quick call feature to place a call. Have it connect to your Gizmo phone number (set up as described above). This should work. If not, review the steps above. Assuming it works, which it did for me from the get go, proceed to get the browser on your phone working.

Next, I made a new Firefox profile on my desktop and installed the useragent switcher. I set the useragent to iPhone and logged in at https://www.google.com/voice/m and began experimenting. I was able to get this to work. I checked all my settings in Google Voice to be sure they were correct. The only change I had to make was to set "my mobile number" to my Gizmo phone number. At that point, I could initiate a call from the Google Voice mobile website and have it connect to my Droid using true VoIP with Gizmo.

So, next I had to get the browsers on the Droid to work. My default browser is set to Dolphin. I had my user agent set to "desktop" because this would work from the get go too. So now I set the user agent back to Android, which is the default. I cleared all cookies. I logged in to https://www.google.com/voice/m and set my mobile number to Gizmo, just as I did in the step above. Now I was able to use the browser on the Droid to make Google Voice connect a call using my Droid via Gizmo. So this is totally free VoIP calling, all done on the Droid.

Next, I went back to the standard Droid browser and did the same thing. I got that to work too, using just the above steps. Clearing cookies was required for me.

At this point I am able to use any browser to make free VoIP calls from my Droid.

Sipdroid will not complete calls using Gizmo5 when outbound calls are dialed directly:

What steps will reproduce the problem?
1. Have a Gizmo5 account with calling credit for outbound calls.
2. Make an outbound call to a regular phone number using Gizmo5

What is the expected output?
Call is connected.

What do you see instead?
The outgoing call is not connected.
Gizmo5 reports that you need to purchase calling credit. This is not purely a Gizmo5 problem because it only happens with Sipdroid. For example, see this conversation where several different people report the same problem:
http://forum.gizmo5.com/viewtopic.php?p=49431#49431

BTW, Sipdroid and Gizmo5 do work together for incoming calls.

What version of the product are you using?
Sipdroid 1.2.1 beta

On what operating system?
Android 2.0 on Droid

Which SIP server are you using?
Gizmo5

 

Resolution:

Leave caller ID blank. Having caller ID set in the Sipdroid preferences (Advanced Calling Options) may also cause the Gizmo5 "need to purchase credit" message. I posted a solution to the forum thread originally mentioned in this issue. See Gizmo5 ticket# 81465. If you have caller ID set, try to unset it and see if it helps. It resolved the issue for me.

 

No Gizmo account?
Make sure you investigate SIP Sorcery and sipgate. See http://www.google.com/support/forum/p/voice/thread?tid=4fceba98c89deaed&hl=en

Is it safe to update OTA?
I installed the 2.0.1 update today. After rebooting, Sipdroid was not initially registered. But when I opened the app, it quickly completed registration (incidently, even with my phone in airplane mode and only the WiFi radio turned on).
I made a couple test calls and it works as before.

The Official Google Voice for Mobile app
If you have the official Google Voice for Mobile app installed, you need to completely remove it for this setup to work. You will use Google Voice via the browser instead. Notice that in the steps above, the official Google Voice for Mobile app is never installed. The first time I tried to get true VoIP calling set up, I had already installed official Google Voice app, and I could not get Gizmo/Sipdroid/GV to work until I uninstalled it.
Has anyone tried GV by Evan Charlton (free in the Market) with the above setup yet? See more info here: http://evancharlton.com/thoughts/reconsidering-gv/#comment_111
UPDATE: a couple people have posted here that the GV app by Evan Charlton does not work with Sipdroid and Gizmo as of today. But it sounds like Evan is working on it. In the mean time, keep using the browser, as mentioned above.

GUAVA

You can download Guava from this link: http://gizmo5.com/guava.html. However, I still prefer Sipdroid.

Here are some links related to Guava:

Guava lacks a callback feature. Callback via Google Voice is what makes the calls completely free. If you dial out using Guava directly, you will pay a small amount for outbound calls.

I'm just using a browser on my phone to open https://www.google.com/voice and initiate my calls from there. I pick the contact in the browser and select "call" and my phone rings and Google Voice connects me to the party I'm calling. For me, Sipdroid works best for this at the moment.

I'm hoping the GV app by Evan Charlton will begin working again in the future and that might be a better solution: http://evancharlton.com/thoughts/reconsidering-gv/

Home Screen Shortcuts With AnyCut Android App
Make Your Own
Enter the following values. They are case sensitive. This will open your default browser to the Google Voice Mobile page showing your contacts list.
Action: android.intent.action.VIEW
Data: https://www.google.com/voice/m/contacts
Type:
(Note: Type is blank)
With this shortcut on your Home Screen, you have one-click access to your Google Voice web contacts. From that page, you can initiate a callback via Google Voice for free calls using Gizmo (or other SIP Provider) and Sipdroid.
References:

 UPDATES:

  • You need to be using the latest Sipdroid release. As of today, it is 1.2.3 beta. This released solved an issue with music failing to pause when a call comes in. Now music is paused as expected during a call and resumes automatically afterwards (using the built-in music app).
  • There appears to be an issue when using a headset with Sipdroid on incoming calls - no sound is heard. I read about a simple workaround (see below) and it does resolve the issue for me.

The workaround is:

  1. when the phone is ringing, but before answering, adjust ringer volume. (It will still be muted and this seems to have no effect, but I think it is a required step.)
  2. after answering the call, adjust media volume.
  3. Result: now I can hear the other party normally, even on incoming calls when using a headset. In practice, I simply hit the volume key a few times before and immediately after answering the call and sound works as expected after that.

 

 Living without cellular voice service on my Droid

Sipdroid, Gizmo5 and Google Voice have completely eliminated my need for voice minutes. I am using zero voice minutes with unlimited talk time via VoIP now. It works great. Here's some feedback after living exclusively with VoIP calling on my Droid.

All my incoming calls come in to my Google Voice number. All incoming calls are totally free. This VoIP approach works just as well as normal cellular voice for me. In fact, it works better because calls over WiFi at my house have excellent quality. Verizon's coverage at my house is very poor (about 0 to 1 bars), so cellular voice calls have terrible quality. VoIP is much better. It is usually about as good as my landline.

In practice, there are two ways I make outgoing calls:

  1. outgoing calls initiated by Google Voice. This is the call-back feature of Google Voice. Presently I do this using the mobile web site. These calls are totally free.
    1. The GV app by Evan Charlton is an option too, but that app does not support Contacts on Android 2.x devices, so it doesn't work for me.
    2. The other option might be to use SipSorcery, but their website requires SIlverlight so I can't sign up. (I run Linux, so no Silverlight for me. And on my wife's laptop running Vista, Silverlight won't install, so I can't even access SipSorcery that way. So no SipSorcery for me.)
  2. outgoing calls dialed directly with the phone's dialer app. These automatically go through Sipdroid and are VoIP calls (if you use the same setup described above). This is a more convenient way to make outgoing calls. However, the calls are not totally free -- but they are cheaper than voice minutes on your cell plan. I'll show an example cost comparison below.

My wife has nearly unlimited voice minutes with the combination of her designated friend numbers and unlimited nights and weekends. She basically talks as much as she wants and her monthly voice charge is about $80 (thanks to T-Mobile's low cost plans). So I asked her how many minutes she typically talks per month. On average, she uses 1300 minutes per month. This works out to 6 cents per minute for voice calls ($80/1300=0.0615).

I also talk about 1300 minutes a month. On my no-voice plan, when I dial out through Gizmo5, I pay 1 cent per minute. (Gizmo reduced their rates from 1.9 cents to 1.0 cents recently.) Incoming minutes are totally free. And calls initiated through Google Voice's call-back feature are totally free. For the sake of comparison, let's say half my minutes are on incoming calls. Of the rest, let's say half of those are initiated via call-back and the other half I dial directly (by selecting a contact in my phone app) for convenience. On this plan, I use 325 minutes of Gizmo5 time, which costs me $3.25 per month. Some people might argue that I should add part of the cost of my data plan to my cost for voice (because VoIP uses my data plan). My unlimited data plan is $49.99/mo (and I pay another $5 for messaging, for a total of $54.99/mo). If I was on a normal voice plan, I would pay only $29.99/mo for data. So I pay an extra $20 for data and I pay $0 for voice minutes. So my total cost for voice is $20 extra for the data plan and $3.25 for Gizmo (total $23.25). That works out to 1.5 cents per minute on average for me. That's 77% cheaper than my wife's plan.

And I only pay the $3.25 to Gizmo for convenience. If I wanted to make all calls via Google Voice call-back, I could. And if I wanted to use my Droid on WiFi only, I could. I'm on WiFi 90% of the time anyway and VoIP works great that way. So, in theory, I could use my Droid without Verizon's service and get a lot of value out of it with zero monthly cost. In practice, having 3g data is valuable to me and I'm happy to pay Verizon for that benefit. But I have found that I do not need any voice minutes at all because VoIP works equally well now that I have ironed out the few bugs I faced initially.

Bottom line: I have found that I have the full convenience of my phone plus all the benefits of my data plan with no serious downsides on this VoIP plan.

The fork of Evan Charlton's GV app for Android (for Google Voice) is called Voice Karma. Here's the link:

http://wiki.github.com/MountainX/Voice-Karma

From the project's wiki:

Voice Karma is a VoIP client for Android (2.0 and above) that is very friendly with Google Voice. It is a fork of GV by Evan Charlton and it supports ad-hoc dialing, calling contacts, listening to voicemail, SMS, and more!

Evan has discontinued work on GV because Google released an official Google Voice Android application. However, Voice Karma doesn’t believe the community’s needs are completely satisfied by the official Google Voice application.

Voice Karma’s intention is to remain a full featured alternative to the official Google Voice app. I am not dissuaded by concerns about reinventing the wheel or duplicating Google’s official efforts. In fact, I think it is important to keep a full-featured alternative available.

Voice Karma will be a total replacement for the official Google Voice app (like the GV app has been). I do not think it is enough to provide an app that is merely complimentary and that just offers some features missing from the official app. The community needs a full alternative, and that’s what Voice Karma intends to be.

If anyone else feels the same way, get in touch with me and let’s move Voice Karma along.

No Gizmo5 account?

Here's another option - eBay. Surprised? I was!

Go to eBay and go to this category:

Home > Buy > Computers & Networking > Networking & Communications > Telecom Systems > VOIP, Internet Telephony

Search on Gizmo5

I found a lot of offers to sell a fresh, never used Gizmo account + Google Voice invite for under $10.