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The state of VoIP on Tablets

Updated on December 25, 2013

Mobile VoIP on Smartphones and Tablets

Smart phones and tablets have become increasingly popular with consumers in the last few years. Manufacturers are continuously improving their products and building innovative capabilities into these handheld devices, bringing them closer to computers than ever before. Teenagers and adults alike use their smartphones to play games, shop, surf the Internet, read and text more often than they use them to make phone calls.

Nevertheless, calling remains an important function of a mobile phone. With carriers charging exorbitant rates, many consumers were looking for cheap or free alternatives for calling which do not use the minutes included in their cell phone plans. This resulted in an explosion of vendors offering VoIP apps which can make free phone calls using the phone’s Internet connection rather than cellular towers.

VoIP on Tablets
VoIP on Tablets

Dearth of Tablet Apps

The popularity of tablets is a much more recent phenomenon in comparison. When they were first introduced, tablets were positioned as media consumption devices and so there was not much consumer demand for VoIP apps on tablets. Most tablets do not have the capability of making calls and instead rely on having access to Wi-Fi in order to work. While there are a few tablets which offer data connections through 3G or LTE, they are much more expensive and hence less popular.

Many apps developers did not think there would be enough demand for VoIP apps given the small size of the tablet market. Early tablets also did not have built-in cameras or if they did, they were of poor quality, so video calling could not be offered. For all these reasons, there has been a dearth of VoIP apps available for tablets.

However, the tablet market has expanded significantly in the last 2 years and many manufacturers offer multiple tablets at various screen sizes and price points. Correspondingly there has been an increase in the availability of VoIP apps for tablet on both iOS and Android. Many such apps take advantage of the expanded screen real estate to offer additional functionality such as group video chat.

Cross Platform Benefits

Quite a few apps such as Facebook, Fring, Hangouts, Skype etc are also cross-platform allowing users to place calls to their friends even if they’re not using the same mobile OS. The only catch is that both the parties have to be using the same app and this is the reason why Skype is still the most popular VoIP app across platforms and devices. Using VoIP apps on tablets still requires more steps than just dialing a number. But with increasing consumer demand for VoIP calling, the quality and quantity of VoIP apps is only going to get better in the future.

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