VoIP for iPhone
What is VoIP
Just in case you aren't aware of this wonderful technology - the abbreviation stands for "voice over internet protocol". The iPhone applications we are going to review here allow you to make voice phone calls over the internet without having to pay extra. Of course, they would generate traffic, so you should be aware of the costs related to your data plan unless you are making the call over WiFi. VoIP software is very useful because you can have a conversation with people from all over the world without having to pay for an international phone call. These services can also save you some money on local calls as well, depending on your contract.
For all the VoIP apps presented here, both communicating parties need to have the software installed and running properly for the call to go through or you need to pay somehow for an outgoing call. But besides that, everything else is clear and can be achieved through a few easy steps:
- Locate and download the free app from the Apple App Store
- Run it on your iPhone
- Use the interface to make or take voice calls for free
Of course, it should go without saying that if you don't have a good internet connection, no matter if it's WiFi, 3G or LTE, the call quality will simply be too bad to use.
Skype is one of the oldest services and despite the fact that it might sometimes be slow with important updates, it does the job well and usually without a hiccup. It service allows free Skype-to-Skype calls over both 3G and WiFi with pretty high quality if your data connection can handle it. Keeping in mind that a great number of people are on Skype already and not only on the iOS platform, but also on desktop (both Windows and Linux), Android, Windows Phone and BlackBerry OS, installing and using the app is a pretty good idea. Besides the Skype-to-Skype calls, the service allows you to place outgoing (both local and international) calls at very good prices. Unlimited outgoing calls to the U.S. and Canada cost $2.95 a month, to another country - $5.95 a month, and to the whole world - $12.95 a month. You can also place outgoing calls for minimum base charges ranging around a couple of cents per minute depending on the destination.
On top of all that, the app actually supports also IM (instant messaging) and video chat.
Despite the fact that Apple rejected Google's application to provide a Google Voice app for the App Store, Google found a way to make it accessible to all the iPhone users. To Apple's dismay Google put their Voice service on the web. After you sing up for the service you are given a local number to make and receive phone calls. This means that for every Google Voice call, you would need to place a real local call, which will eat out of your minutes. This makes the service much more useful for international calls, which cost cents. Additionally, the service (which is technically not an app) allows you to send and receive free text messages and has some nice features like voicemail transcripts.
Fring is actually not a VoIP service, but an all-in-one IM (instant messaging) client that gives the user access to two VoIP protocols - Skype and SIP. You can use Skype normally through the Fring app, but with SIP things become even more interesting. SIP is a VoIP protocol that is used by a number of service providers that you can also sing up to use. This increases the number of networks and providers you have access to and can decrease the prices for outgoing calls even further if you are willing to choose the cheapest option for your needs. Additionally Fring provides instant messaging and video calls with the cool option of group video conferencing. In the end, its one of the solid underdogs of VoIP that might be what you need.
So what do you think...
Which of the services would you try or like already?
In the end, there are a lot of apps and services out there that can do the job when it comes to VoIP. Besides the ones mentioned before there are Viber, iCall, Talkatone, Vonage Mobile, Thruphone and many more. Viber is a VoIP app that has versions for almost any mobile platform available and allows you to send text and picture messages and make voice calls. One of its biggest strengths is its user base. So if your friends are using it, it will surely help you decrease your bill. On the other hand iCall specializes in VoIP outgoing calls for a fee and trying to be as cheap as possible. The rest are also hard to differentiate from each other and what might be decisive for you might be the prices, which are mostly great if you are planning on calling international. After all, all of the apps are free, so you could download a few and see which one you like best.