I’ve mentioned before that I’m trying to use Google Voice more, and one thing that I’m shocked Google hasn’t done is tightly integrate SMS messages with the Google Talk instant messenger. That way if you’re online and someone sends you an SMS it will also flow through to your chat client so that it’s easier to respond.
Last week I decided to start searching around to see if anyone had found a way to do this… a way for me to receive my SMS messages as an IM to my Google Talk account, and then be able to turn around and respond to them as if it was a typical IM conversation. Turns out there is a web-based service called GVMax that works remarkably well in this regard.
As you can see in the screenshot above there are several different notification methods you can use including Google Talk, Prowl, email, Twitter, Howl, and more. For my purposes I’m only using it for Google Talk, and once I got it configured I was amazed with the results. You’ll notice that within seconds of receiving an SMS message you will receive the IM, and responding to it goes back through your Google Voice account as an SMS to the recipient. That’s right, this fully supports two-way (send and receive) conversations instead of just serving as a notifier. The person you’re chatting with will have no idea that you’re using Google Talk rather than your phone, and the history of your messages are still kept in Google Voice just as if you had sent them using a typical method.
There are some things to note though. For one all the messages you receive will appear as a new contact. If the number is in your Google Contacts they will show up as the name of the person followed by the label designated for a particular number. That might sound confusing, but it’s actually simple. The names of your contacts will look like “John Doe [mobile]” or “John Doe [home]” depending on the label you set to the phone number they sent the messages with.
After you set up the service it’s important to be aware that GVMax automatically creates a filter in your Gmail account so that the messages are forwarded on to a special GVMax email address that is specific to you. Make sure you don’t delete this filter, otherwise the service will stop working.