Is there a FOSS Google voice alternative?


#1

I’ve tried searching off and on for years, going back to when Google bought GrandCentral, and I’ve yet to find another service that offers the same featureset. My primary use of this has always been to keep my personal and work numbers separate.

I know I can continue with GV with Librem via the website, but what I’m curious about is twofold. Will there be a better way to continue using GV more natively (unlikely) and better yet, is there a real alternative?

Thanks in advance


#2

I’m not sure I understand your demand, I don’t know what Google Voice is but according to Wikipedia it’s a VOIP service, on the Librem 5 you will be able to use Matrix to communicate with other people over Internet (there’s also bridges projects to other services) or you can use Mumble which is also FOSS.
I hope that helps you but if it doesn’t can you please clarify what your are exactly asking for please?


#3

Google voice gives me a phone number for that service.

I configure that number to ring as many or as few other phone numbers as I desire (in my case: my cell phone, work desk phone, and home phone) with rules based on time of day (so the work phone only rings during the day on weekdays and the home phone only on weekends with the cell always ringing).

The Google voice number also supports SMS and MMS along with visual voicemails.

Google voice also has a spam filter so that most unwanted calls/text messages don’t ring/notify the phone but you can review the messages if you choose. You can also block a number so that the caller receives the “this number has been disconnected or is no longer in service” message.

The end result is a sandboxed phone number I can give out while keeping my personal number, personal/private. Also if I change numbers/have to use another phone temporarily I can add that number to GV and work as normal then remove that temporary number when I have access to my number again.

From what I’ve been able to glean it looks like both mumble and matrix are closer to P2P chat solutions than a way to interact with POTS and SMS. It does sound like there will be a bridge to connect Matrix to SMS it looks, to me, like it will be using my number not its own. Which is good for the primary client as I do want my personal number to be able to send/receive SMS/MMS but I also want to keep my sandboxed number as well.

Hopefully that clarifies some.


#4

Probably not what you are looking for but I use Fennec (https://f-droid.org/en/packages/org.mozilla.fennec_fdroid/ , a 100% open source Firefox) to login to Google Voice and make calls from the web browser. You can also use it to make group texts and to initiate a text conversation with someone. (Of course, Google Voice will hide replies behind a proxy number so you can eventually use your regular text messaging program.)

Hope this helps.


#5

I am just trying to understand what you gain by going to a FOSS alternative. You will need to authenticate with a telephone company or infrastructure regardless. You’ll need to go through a number of managing boards in order for your number to be used on any of those networks.

This is the main reason why every option that gives you an actual number is not FOSS. FOSS alternatives over your VOIP sans a usable phone number which is honestly the only way possible if you wish to maintain your privacy and security.

So I guess my real question is, is a FOSS alternative is even possible, where a real phone number is required?


#6

I use google voice as well. I think the problem is two fold:

  1. there is a mobile app that makes managing new numbers and setting up rules easy on the phone.
  2. yet more info for google to manage.

I too would like an alternative to google voice and have yet to find one, The only solution I have found is to hack up some scripts for twilio, but that gets expensive quick.

My use case:

  1. Something asks for my phone number that I do not want them to have my ‘real’ one
  2. open Magic App on phone, get a new random number
  3. give new random number to Thing and then associate to my ‘real’ phone number.

This way I can drop that new number anytime, or block phone numbers, etc… I