I thought I would share my experience on my Samsung Galaxy S2 Epic 4G Touch running Jelly Bean (4.1) with both Groove IP (and Groove Forwarder) and Talkatone (free version).
Really, in my mind, it comes down to features and ease of use (Groove IP) vs. call quality (Talkatone).
Groove: I downloaded the paid version ($4.99) of Groove IP plus Groove Forwarder ($.99) from the Google Play store. Groove allows you to use it only on WiFi. When you are on WiFi, the settings allow all you to use the native dialer (one built into the phone) to place calls over Google Voice with Groove IP. Incoming calls when on WiFi are received via Google Voice/Groove. When not on WiFi, the phone works as if you did not have Groove, and uses your minutes (which is what you want - not data). I LOVE the way that everything seamlessly integrates between your native phone app, Google Voice, and Groove IP/Forwarder. HOWEVER, the call quality (at least for me) what not good at all. I tried all the different settings, and even emailed tech support and tried their ideas, but when I placed calls it would cut in and out between being clear and being jittery/garbled. I had my wife call me with my phone using Groove and I went into the garage on our other cell, and I had great difficulty understanding her half the time. There were some issues with hearing the other person, but they largely were with the other person hearing you.
Talkatone: I downloaded Talkatone (free) from Google Play. There is an option for $9.99 where you can get it without ads (see later for disadvantages) and an option to upgrade to Talkatone Premium for $1.99/mo, which I didn't see any features on that would benefit me. The big advantage with Talkatone is call quality. I did the same thing with having my wife call me on my phone with Talkatone, and it was MUCH clearer - almost as good as over the cell phone! I also called a family member for about a half hour with it, and while they said they occasionally might hear a slight breakup or stutter, it generally was good and we have no trouble having a conversation, and to me the other person sounded perfectly clear. I think there might be a little bit of a lag, but nothing that you notice unless you are thinking about it. However, there are a few feature disadvantages, but are some workarounds.
- Ads. When Talkatone is up, there is usually a small ad banner that displays, but it integrates well into the app and is not distracting. Also, I can’t figure out the interval of this, but every so many calls it will display a full-screen ad that you have to clear out (like many websites) before making a call. However, for $9.99 per device, you can pay to have the app run ad-free. My recommendation is to just run it with ads to make sure that you like it and if you love the app and hate the ads, spend the $9.99 to get rid of them.
- Incoming calls. Unlike with Groove, when you are connected to Talkatone, it essentially “rings” two phones (Talkatone and the phone operating on Ting). Talkatone’s solution is to only have Google Voice forward to Google Chat – however, if you do that, if people call your Google Voice number and you are not on WiFi, it will receive calls over data (less reliable and more expensive) or will not receive them at all if you have the WiFi only setting set. If you have Google Voice set to forward to Google Chat and to your Ting cell number (which is what you want), it will ring both phones and “fight” over your phone. When somebody calls you, the Talkatone app will display and allow you to answer, ignore, or send to voicemail. However, after a few seconds, the native caller app will overtake Talkatone. IF YOU ANSWER WITH THE NATIVE DIALER APP IT WILL USE YOUR CELL PHONE SERVICE AND YOUR MINUTES. However, if you swipe the red “end” button, you will see the Talkatone app again and can answer with Talkatone, and use your WiFi.
- WiFi Only. There is a WiFi only setting, however, it will cause problems if you try to use the device to make phone calls when not on WiFi, so this function is essentially useless. My workaround is having the phone require you to select “Phone” or “Talkatone” each time you make a call.
My decision: Talkatone. Call quality is more important than functionality. I can live with the workarounds. However, due to call quality, I might not be able to take advantage of WiFi calling as much as I hoped, but using it will save me $17/mo if it tosses me to a lower bucket. I also plan to save money by using Google Voice for texting, but I will have to pay $40 to port my cell number and my wife's cell number to Google Voice - we don't want to mess with people having two numbers to contact or be confused.