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32 essential Android tips and tricks

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With careful setup, Google Voice can replace regular texting on your phone. Here's the dialog box that allows Voice to capture incoming text messages.

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7. Google Voice integration

One of the best things about Android is its tight integration with the Google Apps suite. The Gmail client, for example, is leaps and bounds ahead of its iOS counterpart, giving you the ability to tag, filter, switch accounts, and do just about everything you can do on the desktop version. Maybe the most versatile member of the Google Apps squad, though, is Google Voice.

Voice gives you a new phone number (or you can carry over your existing mobile number) that is tied to your Google account. You can do all sorts of nifty things with this number, like setting different voicemail greetings for different callers, forwarding the number to a separate line (or two), and having voicemails automatically transcribed to text so you can read them like regular messages. If you're moving to a new city, you might also consider signing up for a Google Voice number with a local area code – that way you can hang on to your original number, but also get the benefits of local calling rates.

With the proper setup, you can also use Google Voice to get free texts – even if your phone plan doesn't include texting. Your Google Voice number can both send and receive texts for free, and your Android phone will give you the option to use that Voice number as the default. Alternatively, you can tell it to forward texts as emails (you'll be able to respond to incoming texts by email, as well). As long as you keep the data portion of your phone plan, you can pretty safely drop the messaging part.

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