Have Google Voice? Use Spare Phone to make free Wi-Fi calls on your Windows Phone

For those with Google Voice accounts, the desire to have a true VOIP solution for Windows Phone has been around for a long time. We have apps like MetroTalk to help manage Google Voice and even make phone calls through a cellular provider, but that’s not an actual VOIP system.

Spare Phone is a relatively new app to Windows Phone and it seems to do just that: make and receive calls purely over your data connection (either Wi-Fi or cellular data). The app works like a standard phone dialer, which can access your contacts and even maintain a call history.

The app will cost you $3.49 and it doesn’t have a free trial. That already takes it down a peg for many of you. We did fork over the money though to give it a shot.

Truth be told, it does work. We tried to make some calls using the app over Wi-Fi and while the sound was “tinny”, it was audible and very usable. The app features some echo cancelation technology, which was useful. The interface for the app is clean and clear.

Incoming calls was a little more tricky. In our short time with the app, we weren’t able to receive calls using just VOIP, though others who left reviews of the app have had more success. In reality, this is a tad complicated as Google requires you to “accept” the app as trusted and there are login issues to deal with, etc. Long story short, nothing is ever easy with Google and here, we’re placing the blame on them rather than the app itself.

However, you are allowing an app access to your Google account and we did receive an email from Google about “Suspicious sign in prevented”. We don’t think this app is suspicious and indeed, we had granted it permission, but like all things with your account, be warned.

Overall, Spare Phone is a well done app that fills in a niche for Windows Phone users. Free VOIP calls over Wi-Fi is nothing to dismiss as anyone who uses Skype knows. While Google is not content with making any Windows Phone apps yet, Spare Phone, despite not having a free trial, gets the job done.

The other big question is how long will this app last? Google has thrown down the gauntlet on third-party Google Voice apps, and Spare Phone might have to be pulled later in 2014.

Pick up Spare Phone here in the Store. Windows Phone 8 only. $3.49, no free trial.

Thanks, mk, for the tip

Daniel Rubino

Daniel Rubino is the Editor-in-chief of Windows Central, head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been here covering Microsoft since 2007 when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, Microsoft Surface, laptops, next-gen computing, and for some reason, watches. Before all this tech stuff, he worked on a Ph.D. in linguistics and ran the projectors at movie theaters, which has done absolutely nothing for his career.

  • Sounds cool, but I try to support Google products about as much as they support Windows Phone.
  • +1520
  • Not to mention the fact Google are apparently getting "tough" on third-party applications for Google Voice. In my opinion it's not worth purchasing an application that may be sent a "polite" message to be de-listed anytime Google, starts this campaign. I could be mistaken, but I'm almost sure that's what I've read.
  • Damn right, screw them
  • Well said. For an app like this, it almost seems opportunistic. May not be but with google you never know.
  • It's not like Google actually wrote Spare Phone, nor is Spare Phone a new app:  I've had it on my 521 since I bought it, and I got the first one unboxed at my local Wal-Mart.   That it's likely to get mired in the same crap that MetroTalk is facing, though, is another matter.
  • I have nothing against the app. My lack of "support" for Google (in this case) is with Google Voice.
  • +720
  • LOL nice one.... People can also sign up with T-Mobile or if you have them already turn the feature on.
  • You can only use WiFi calling on T-Mobile if you have a post-paid account.
  • You can use it with prepaid too but for some reason it still counts against your minutes.
  • Charging $3.49 and having the courage to offer NO TRIAL?
  • And it will last at most another month, before Google shuts it down.
  • Google stated that all third party devs will have until early 2014 to pull their apps.
  • You right! That's what I too read about, so why to pay and purchase this app.
  • Placeholder... DO NOT COMMENT BELOW!!!
  • Ok, I won't...
  • <No comment>
  • Don't buy this. Three and a half bucks for something that won't last more than a few months? No thanks.
  • My $5.07 lunch only lasted 30 minutes..... No, I'm not saying buy this app, I know I'm not buying it. I just wanted to leave a comment. :)
  • If your lunch is crap you could moan about it and possibly get your money back. Just saying.
  • LOL!
  • I've had it 2 months already. Great app. If google removes it I will just grab a nexus and use groove IP. Must keep my $30 plan in tact
  • GrooveIP and Talkatone will also most likely be delisted. Scroogle really wants to force you into using Hangouts. How much I wish that Skype picks up all features of Google Voice.....!
  • Rather use Skype where you can actually see their faces while talking
  • Doesn't Skype have to be between two Skype users? I aven't tried it, be should I be able to call a non-Skype phone number for free using Skype (I am a T-Mobile prepaid account user)?
  • Nope if you have call plan you can call from Skype.
  • No offense, but this is a developer money grab trying to capitalize on a situation that won't last soon.
  • The developer made this way before Google announced the cutoff in May.
  • Unless he is the WORLD'S FASTEST DEVELOPER.
  • Not developer's fault and I wont say he is greedy either....as there is no chance anyone can come up with an app so quickly....and the app publish date tells you the truth...rating is good too....not saying buy it but just wanted to make it clear to everyone shouting for on this....its just wpcentral posted it now.
  • This app has been out for a while. I've had it 2 months way before google announced ending 3rd party access
  • I would not try this app simply because I would never allow any 3rd party apps access to my account. + the app is completely dependant on Google to work, and since I don't want anything to do with Google thats another minus of this app.  
  • On my Android tablet I use a similar app as this and it is quite nice. I always wanted something like this for WP for an unlimited calling solution. With the route scroogle is going though I use their services less and less.
  • Are you saying even on android there is no official gv app that allows sms/wifi call??? I know new hangout app has some sort of SMS integration....not sure how much gv is integrated into the os.
  • Sorry, im busy boycotting google
  • Google voice is also being deprecated last I heard with emphasis on hangouts. Even if app is not pulled, think the service will be. Regardless, Want VoIP, go with Skype
  • I've used this app for quite some time, and I will say, it does work. Call quality is not the best, but for saving my limited mobile minites, it's more than worth the price of admission. I feel it could use a bit more of api integration, i.e. live tile and a few touch-up improvements ui-wise. The fact that its using an unapproved API and works so well is probably a miricle though.  Oh, and I've had the app a few months. Nice to see incoming call integration now.
  • why we need this if we already have skype? unless it does free calls to landlines i dont see a reason for this thing to exist, im getting tired of all this fragmentation with chats and calling apps, skype does everything and EVERYWHERE, whats the need for whatsapp for example, i simply dont get it
  • Choice is why this exists. Competition is good for the WP environment.
  • yea i honestly agree with you, competition is mostly good for us, this competition is not, its like saying you have the choice between android 2.3 and 4.4, skype is vastly superior to any IM chat or voip calling service, having the lesser versions around just makes "fragmentation" and thats not good
  • It does do free calls to any U.S. or Canada number. It uses Google Voice to call.
  • i understand what you mean about why do we need "this" or "that" when we have "this". i feel the same way about google talk/hangouts. the fact of the matter is not everyone uses/likes hangouts or skype. as for whatsapp, as soon as it is installed it automatically syncs with the contacts on the phone. so discovery is by phone number. while whatsapp is great, you cannot use another device with the same number. you can have whatsapp on your phone or tablet, not both...unless you utilize 2 separate numbers.  google hangouts is discovery by a gmail account (but thats changing to include google voice/phone numbers). in addition, a hangouts account can be used on multiple devices at the same time (e.g., phones, tablets, browser, desktop, etc.). then theres bbm which is discovery by invites with pins in which you do not need to hand out your number. you keep this initimate between a few people, maybe for the industry you work in, or what the heck, just give it out to everyone. lol someone can make the argument on why you do not need whatsapp when there is kakao talk. kakao allows access with 1 mobile device and desktop. then the whatsapp user can argue, no one i know uses kakao. (keep in mind kakao and line, while they are used heavily in the states, they are from an overseas market.) the situation does not need to be understood but simply acknowledged.    
  • So, what exactly does this do that Skype and T-Mobiles WiFi Calling doesn't?
  • Well, it would allow ATT users to make WiFi calls. Also, as I understand it, it allows free calls to land lines. Skype charges for this, no? Regardless, it's a google product, so I'm not going anywhere near this
  • there is a difference between skype and t-mobile wifi calling. lets start with t-mobile. they utilize a gan/uma type protocol to compensate for weak cellular signal for voice service. so cell phone calls are routed through wifi. the number you use to make a "wfi call" is the same cell number on the tmo account. as for skype, you have either a skype name or name & phone number separate from your cell phone number. skype is all done through data. google voice, in terms of service offerings, would be similar to skype. everyone has a different reason for using gv. aside from saving money and using the same number simultaneously on mutiple devices, one thing you cannot do on skype is port your cell phone number to it. well that is what majority of the moderators at the skype community will state. (there are instances where people were able to port the skype number out to a carrier but not the other way around.) this may not be important to some but important to others. in my own inique situation, i have had my cell number for over 10 years which i ported to gv and could not be happier. i like what skype offers. they are ahead of the curve by being in markets like smart tvs and gaming console. the skype experience is pretty seamless on your skype enabled tv or xbox 360 with kinect. whats next skype enabled car? even with all that being said, skype is not the main service i use. its still gv.
  • You can call any number, cell or landline for free in us. It will use WiFi or cellular data. Sorry, currently it has no equal, call quality is acceptable for a free service.
  • Does the app act as a standard SIP client? I need just a SIP client, miss this feature from Symbian!
  • Sigh! If Only WP8 has a native SIP client. I can register my GV accounts using the native SIP client and there's no need for such applications as these. It's one of  the most useful application/feature I sorely miss in my Lumias, which my N9 and other Nokia Symbian devices have.
  • "Long story short, nothing is ever easy with Google and here, we’re placing the blame on them rather than the app itself." Short story short I think you should lay at least some of blame on the developer for using a closed, undocumented API that they're technically not even supposed to use rather than all of it Google. Or I guess you could say Google should have opened it but that's neither here nor there with Google Voice and it's API shutting down soon. It'd be nice if they released it but I'm guessing there's a lot of regulation that prevents them from doing so.
  • I'll stick with my WiFi calling for now.
  • I wish I'd known about this before I found out about Google killing third party support. I also wish Microsoft would challenge Google by making calls through Skype work like Google Voice. The Skype vs Google Voice communities are probably comparable to the Android vs iOS crowd, MS could make a statement by taking the figt back at Google the same way Google is trying to attack Office.
  • When minutes run low, an app like this would DEFINITELY come in handy.  One month my minutes were gone so early that I was driving around with my laptop in my car, tethering through my phone and making calls using Gmail voice chat just so I didn't go over on my minutes.  This would be quite a bit easier. Still, a six month app. :\
  • I was on the beta for this app. About 2weeks ago, I had to travel outside the US for business. Verizon wanted 0.89 a min and $2 per Mb. So, I decided to give this a shot over wi-fi as my only outgoing calls for the week.   This app worked perfectly just like it says. If I hit my contact list it pulled right from my contacts. The call quaity was pretty good based on the quality of the data connection. Over the whole week, I was able to make free calls and no issues at all with the app.   If you need an app like this, itsnworty the $3.49, no question
  • What's the point? Just use Skype for true VoIP calls. I make all my out going calls with Skype. I have Skype caller id set to my mobile #. Works great and saves $$. I have a 5gb/ 100min plan for $30.00 from tmo.
  • This is the best app on my phone. I have the $30 WalMart T-mobile plan with 100 min and unlimited data. With this app I never go over my minutes. I just love it! Sound quality is great and it saves me a ton on my bill. I recommend it to anyone
  • Google confirmed XMPP goes away in May 2014
  • i love all the "whats the point? just use skype" comments. whats funnier the 2 people above seem to have similar cell phone plans but have 2 different opinions on whats useful or not. obviously they are from 2 different ecosystems, the second with some cross platform utilization. isnt that reason enough? why buy playstation when there is xbox? what the heck just bye the wii. why use gmaps by dreamteam mobile when theres bing or here maps? why use gmail when theres outlook on my desktop browser? what the heck just use yahoo mail. why watch the voice when there is american idol? why be a fan of the mets when there are the yankees? lakers vs clippers...just saying.
  • I have been using this app on Android for about a year and I am happy with it, now I am installing it on my Lumia. 
  • i thought this app was relatively new. you mean you part of the beta test group?
  • I wish comcast brings their xfiniti conect app to WP. You can make VOIP calls and texts on your cell phone using your fixed phone number. And yes, you can answer calls made to your fixed phone on your cell. Cool.
  • Closed all my Google accounts. Google, like the NSA, is reading, collecting, and storing your information to do as they please.
  • I used this in the Dominican Republic with the hotel-provided WiFi. Worked pretty well but like Daniel mentioned, check your email to authorize the app and location once blocked. There is no good indication why a call fails; it just stops ringing. Also, it "rings" on every attempt even if you haven't authorized the app yet or have an incorrect password entered.
  • I just think this is Googles way of fighting Windows Phone. They want you to be on Android and they won't make it easy for those that want to use their GV account on the their Windows Phone device. Very petty if you ask me. Another reason to stay on Windows Phone and NEVER go back to Android.
  • Winduhs drones always wan