Can I use Google Voice without phone service?

What Is Google Voice?

Google Voice is a telephony service offered by Google that provides users with a phone number for calling, texting, and voicemail. With Google Voice, users can make and receive calls, send and get text messages, and manage voicemail all through one central phone number provided by Google (1).

Some key features of Google Voice include:

  • Ability to choose a free Google Voice phone number
  • Call forwarding to ring multiple phones
  • Voicemail transcription and storage
  • SMS text messaging
  • Web and mobile app access

Google Voice aims to provide an enhanced phone communication experience by consolidating calling, texting, and voicemail into one account that can be managed across devices (2).

Using Google Voice with a Phone Number

Typically Google Voice is used alongside an existing phone number. You can enable your current phone number with Google Voice so that your number rings on multiple devices and utilizes Google Voice features.

When you enable an existing number with Google Voice, calls to that number will ring all linked devices like cell phones, landlines, and computers. This allows someone to call your regular number but ring multiple phones at once tied to that same number.

Google Voice can also utilize an existing number’s voicemail system or replace it with the Google Voice voicemail. Other Google Voice features like call screening, blocking, and voicemail transcriptions can be enabled on the existing phone number as well.

Overall, using an existing phone number with Google Voice allows you to keep your current number while taking advantage of Google Voice’s call management and voicemail features across multiple devices.

Using Google Voice Without a Phone Number

Google Voice does not require an existing phone number to use many of its features through the mobile app or the website. Even without a phone number linked, you can get a customized Google Voice phone number to give out to people for inbound calls, text messages, and voicemails.

However, without an existing mobile or landline number, there are some limitations. You won’t be able to place outbound calls or texts from within the Google Voice service. You can receive calls and texts to your Google Voice number and answer those calls or reply to messages by opening the Google Voice app or visiting the website. But you cannot initiate conversations from your Google Voice.

Here are the key capabilities when using Google Voice without phone service:

  • Get your own unique Google Voice phone number for people to call and text
  • Receive calls and text messages from others on your Google Voice number
  • Answer calls made to your Google Voice number when the app is open
  • Reply to text messages received at your Google Voice number
  • Set up voicemail and receive transcriptions in the app

So even without an existing phone plan or number, Google Voice can offer a lot of functionality. But the inability to place outbound calls or texts limits how useful it can be. For full functionality, you’ll want to link it to an existing mobile or landline number.

Receiving Calls on Google Voice

One of the key benefits of Google Voice is the ability to receive calls even without an active phone number. Incoming calls to a Google Voice number can be configured to ring on the Google Voice mobile app, the Google Voice website, and even linked desktop apps.

When someone calls a Google Voice number, the user will receive an alert on all configured devices and apps. They can then choose to answer the call from whichever device is most convenient. The call quality and reliability is similar to that of a mobile call.

In addition to call alerts, Google Voice will transcribe and email received voicemails to the user. So even without a phone plan, users never have to miss an important message. Voicemails can be managed and listened to within both the mobile and web app as well.

In summary, Google Voice makes receiving calls and voicemails simple and consistent across devices, without requiring an active phone number or plan. Users have full control over where and how they receive communications.

Making Calls on Google Voice

Google Voice allows users to make phone calls using the Google Voice mobile app. However, there are some limitations on making outbound calls:

Outbound calls can only be placed through the mobile app. The web interface and desktop apps do not allow users to dial outbound calls (see this discussion).

A linked phone number is required for outbound calls. Users must verify a phone number with Google Voice in order to make outbound calls. Without a verified linked number, users can only receive calls (see this forum post).

So in summary – while Google Voice does enable free calling in the US and Canada, users are limited to making outbound calls only through the mobile app and having a verified phone number linked to their Google Voice account.

Texting on Google Voice

Google Voice allows you to send outgoing SMS text messages without the need for connecting a mobile phone number. Sending and receiving text messages is done through the Google Voice mobile app.

Although you can send standard SMS messages without a linked mobile number, MMS is not supported. According to OpenPhone, if you do connect a mobile number, both SMS and MMS are enabled.

Additionally, the number of recipients for group texting is limited. As stated by OpenPhone, “Google Voice texting limitations also cap your group chats at eight users max.” So while you can carry on conversations through the Google Voice app, group messaging is restricted.

Using Voicemail on Google Voice

Voicemail is integrated directly into the Google Voice service. When a user is unable to answer a call, Google Voice routes the call to voicemail and transcribes the messages. The voicemail transcripts and audio files are sent to the user’s email address on file. Users can also access their voicemails through the Google Voice mobile app and website.

The Google Voice app provides a convenient way to manage voicemails. Users can play back audio, view transcriptions, delete messages, and save important voicemails. The app also allows users to configure voicemail greetings and notifications for new messages.

With voicemail integrated into the service, Google Voice provides features like transcription and email delivery that aren’t available with a traditional carrier voicemail system. This added convenience is a major benefit, especially for users who don’t have an active mobile phone number.

International Usage on Google Voice

One benefit of using Google Voice is that it allows for affordable international calling rates and free international texting. According to this source, when making international calls with Google Voice, international calling rates will apply even without a linked phone number. However, receiving international calls and texts on Google Voice is completely free.

When placing an international call on Google Voice, calling rates are significantly lower than typical carrier charges. Calling rates vary by destination but start at just $0.01 per minute. This can add up to substantial savings compared to wireless carrier international rates. Even without a linked number, Google Voice can utilize Wi-Fi connectivity to place low cost international calls.

In contrast, receiving international calls and SMS text messages on Google Voice numbers is entirely free no matter what country they originate from. This allows friends, family, and business contacts abroad to reach your Google Voice number without incurring extra fees. So Google Voice provides excellent international communication abilities whether traveling overseas or connecting with global contacts.

Using Google Voice on Multiple Devices

Google Voice is a flexible platform that allows you to use the same account across multiple devices, including desktop, iOS, and Android. You can seamlessly transition calls, texts, and voicemails between different platforms with ease.

According to these sources, you can link multiple smartphones to the same Google Voice number. To set this up, simply log in using the same Google/Gmail account that has Google Voice enabled. The Google Voice app for iOS and Android allows syncing across mobile devices.

The Google Voice website and extensions or apps for desktop platforms like Windows, Mac, Linux and Chromebook also connect to your account. So you can seamlessly transition from your smartphone to laptop or desktop.

With this cross-platform syncing, you never have to worry about missing calls or texts, no matter what device you happen to be using at the moment.


Google Voice is a versatile application allowing you to access phone number capabilities without having an active phone number. With a linked phone number, Google Voice enables full functionality to make and receive calls, texts, and voicemails. Without a phone number, core features like assigning your Google Voice number, transcribed voicemail, and U.S. calls are still available.

However, using Google Voice as a standalone service limits the ability to receive calls, access voicemail outside the app, enable MMS picture messaging, port your existing number, or make international calls. While Google Voice expands phone capabilities for users, full functionality requires linking an existing cellular number.

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