The range of options when it comes to voice over IP (VoIP) is expanding by the day. So are the options for the IP phones that help make VoIP such an attractive experience.
One option that more people are considering is using their smartphone as an IP phone.
“In our office we run an Asterisk PBX (News - Alert) system which has served us well for years,” wrote Matthew Mombrea recently at ITworld.com. “Recently we ran out of SIP phones as two bricked on us. We messed around with a few PC based softphones which worked, but the result was less than ideal, especially since you had to either take your call on speakerphone or throw a headset on every time.”
While toying around with that, however, the group hit upon using their smartphones as IP phones instead.
“It turned out that everything we desired was just an app away, a free app at that,” he noted.
For Mombrea, the solution was an Android (News - Alert) app called CSipSimple, and the office also looked at iPhone app Zoiper. Both apps let offices easily connect their IP-based PBX to their phone so the office phone would ring to their cell when they were in the office, and go straight to voicemail when they were not.
Smartphones are becoming even smarter VoIP phones than that, however. Many cloud-based VoIP services now offer apps that let the office phone follow users wherever they may be, using their cell phone as their office phone whether in the office or across the world in Singapore.
This move toward VoIP on mobile phones also is coming from smartphone manufacturers themselves.
In a TechCrunch article, Darrell Etherington explains how Apple (News - Alert) has quietly laid the foundation for its own VoIP infrastructure.
“Quietly, gradually, but clearly Apple is building platform lock-in into its iOS products, with some features that are deeper than just a rich third-party software ecosystem,” he wrote. “FaceTime Audio is the latest of these, VoIP calling built on the back of its FaceTime (News - Alert) video chat service, which is tightly integrated to the phone app to make placing free international calls almost a pleasant surprise for those looking to connect with far-flung loved ones.”
At least to Etherington, Apple’s quiet VoIP play has brought VoIP calling on mobile phones to the mainstream.
“Critics will say that services like Google’s Gmail calling and Skype (News - Alert) have offered free international or long-distance calling for years, but Apple’s service is integrated directly into a user’s Phone, Contacts, Messages and FaceTime apps, which they’re already comfortable using, and doesn’t require having a separate account or third-party app open,” he pointed out.
Whether through Apple or a more homegrown solution involving Asterisk PBX, one thing is clear: Mobile phones are clearly becoming VoIP phones. We all are using IP phones now.
Edited by Rachel Ramsey