The concept of Voice over IP (VoIP), especially on mobile devices, is one that's been well-received by users, if not so much by mobile networks that find themselves on the horns of a dilemma when it comes to providing the service in the first place. But Pinger (News - Alert) is looking to step up the game a bit by circumventing the providers' dilemma and offering VoIP that's a bit more low-tension, but not without plenty of options.
Pinger, which used to be called TextFree, offers much of the same as what its old name would imply: text messaging for free to any other device. But since many mobile providers already offer text messaging, it was clear that Pinger would have to step things up a notch. As a result, Pinger also offers free incoming calls to any phone in the United States or Canada alike for Android (News - Alert) users. As for outgoing calls, that's also available by either purchasing inexpensive credit for minutes, available on Google Play, or getting them for free outright by watching videos or downloading certain apps. Pinger will even offer up group messaging systems, a free second phone line, and the ability to communicate, at no charge, with other Pinger users worldwide.
Pinger's interface works a little different from those of other, similar apps, focusing on contacts and keeping all the contact with them together. Answered and missed calls alike are easily spotted with just a quick tap on a contact, making it very easy to keep all those calls in line.
If it sounds at least passingly similar to Skype (News - Alert), it probably should, since many of those features are also offered up on the larger service. There are differences, of course, but the similarities are fairly easily noticed. There are also plenty of other apps that serve similar purposes, but with the bandwidth crunch currently being seen in both mobile access as well as more land-line based access—more services have bandwidth caps of some kind these days than those that don't—it remains to be seen just how much value these services will actually offer.
Still, it's a development worth watching, and as more service providers like Google and potentially Facebook look to enter the market, the issue of bandwidth caps may one day fall and make Pinger and its ilk ultimately indispensable.
Edited by Rachel Ramsey