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08-29-2008, 12:33 PM #1
iCall: The First VoIP AppStore App
It isn’t very often that an application comes around that redefines a platform, more often than not the platform redefines the applications. It is even less often that an application redefines an entire industry. Fortunately for us our passion is in the iPhone, a platform that, thanks to the developers jailbroken or official, constantly evolves and is redefined. On this permavolving platform there is a vast opportunity to redefine industries as well.
Today I had the opportunity to peer into the next evolution of the iPhone and the next evolution of VoIP. I’m not talking about the shady pseudo functioning implementation of Skype from fring – not that those guys aren’t great, I just very rarely had a working call – I am talking about the next step in VoIP technology as a whole – iCall for iPhone.
I’ve been working with the iCall crew for a couple of weeks now, starting out trying to get them to let me in with ad-hoc distribution. I talked with Arlo their CEO about why it has taken so long since we first saw the video back in June. At the time he told me that the applications in the AppStore where really more like applets and not industrial applications – he assured me that this would not be the case with iCall. I have to tell you, the man didn’t lie. There is no reality distortion field here just an absolutely incredible application.
The first time you open the application you’ll be asked to pick a get a free local number to make and receive calls using the application. For me I chose one close to my new apartment, although you could pick one in a different location if need be. Once you’ve got your number go in and enter your cell number which assists in making the switch from cellular network to iCall’s VoIP.
Now, unfortunately this doesn’t work quite like we all had thought (at least if you watched the [ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aNoq5w3mkMU"]video[/ame]) – one must have forwarding enabled to your iCall number in settings to switch from a cell call to VoIP.
Andy of iCall explains –
In order to transfer calls from GSM to WiFi, you must have forwarding enabled in "Settings". Additionally the call must be received at the new iCall number that we have assigned you. Below is a sample scenario:
• You receive a call at your iCall number, but you are not logged into iCall
• The call is automatically and transparently forwarded to the "My cell number" you have configured in iCall
• You answer the call and initiate the conversation
• You start iCall and are prompted to switch
Unfortunately, last time we called AT&T and said "Hey, can we connect directly to your call switches and radios?" they said no ￼ We'll call again next week.
Call Forwarding is included on all*AT&T and former AT&T Wireless rate plans. Forwarded calls are billed airtime from the time the call is answered until it is ended. Each call forwarded may receive, depending on your location, per minute/per call or interconnect charges based on where the call is forwarded. Long Distance charges apply if the call is forwarded to a long distance number. If you are on a former AT&T Wireless rate plan, call forwarding minutes*may not apply to your included minutes.
Only for the portion of the call that is spent on your regular cell. Once the call is transferred to iCall, AT&T is not even aware of the call.
Every call I have made with iCall, save for one, has been crystal clear for me and the recipient and vice versa on my family’s internet in Kansas City (I believe it is a 3Mbps connection from Time Warner, but I live in Chicago with Crapcast so what do I know).
The application pulls all of your contacts (or you can do that lame dialing thing) up which makes it really easy to use and make calls with. Voicemail is also included with the application so you can get message while you can't answer the phone – awesome. When I get back to Chicago where WiFi is more ubiquitous I’ll definitely be checking it out.
One of the iCall founders, Arlo Gilbert, took the time to respond to a few questions I had –
Kevan (Me): When do you plan on submitting the app to Apple?
Arlo: We intend to submit to Apple in the next week.
K: What are you going to charge for the application? For the service?
A: [For] The service [we] will offer a free trial period, 29.95 for the first month, 9.95 per month thereafter. The application download from the store will be free.
and a very important question –
K: Any hope of getting the app to work with an iPod Touch + Mic (we are a modification site after all )?
A: We won't officially support any 3rd party or hacked hardware, but I don't see any reason why it wouldn't work, somebody would have to be the brave soul to try it out though at their expense and risk.
Risk. Expense. Hacking. These have never stopped us before.
In the interim before the app is submitted, If you would like a call to hear how it sounds feel free to PM me with your phone number and I’ll give you a call.
Last edited by ajustcircle; 08-29-2008 at 02:29 PM.
08-29-2008, 03:16 PM #2
Very Cool...but for me 9.99 a month is not worth it
08-29-2008, 03:18 PM #3
Now that sounds like a best seller.... Will us Americans living abroad (europe) have the option to take advantage of this? Man a service like this would have saved me $$$ in Afganistan...
---Monthly fee is perfect what about having an international option for thoes that frequently travel...
Cant wait to try this out...
--Need a "beta tester" from Europe? Holla Ill do it... ;-)
08-29-2008, 03:18 PM #4
still very cool... once someone gets a hold of it and picks it apart it's on like donkey kong! MORE FREE SH!+This is getting a lil' ridiculous...
08-29-2008, 03:22 PM #5Good Initiative, Bad Judgement
Pfft, that price tag defeats the purpose of the App Store. Isn't the purpose of Apple's App Store to have one-time fee applications? Oh well, it won't be getting my business. Good initiative, bad judgement.
08-29-2008, 03:25 PM #6
ummm, interesting but I think this would be only practical for people who live in areas where reception is bad. Other than that, I rather use my I"Phone" to make calls. Their rate plans (iCall) 30 bucks for the first month and 10 bucks each month after that? I rather use the money to up my rate plan for more mins with AT&T
08-29-2008, 03:49 PM #7
This is the link from their website about it.
08-29-2008, 04:02 PM #8
08-29-2008, 04:33 PM #9
08-29-2008, 04:40 PM #10
$9.99 a month? LOL. Defeats the purpose of "saving your money by not using up cell phone minutes" if they're gonna charge you. Ridiculous. Another $120 extra per year by using this app is not worth it at all. I can just manage my cell phone minutes and wait til 7pm when I get free minutes. If I'm at home I'm not gonna use my wifi to talk on my cell. I'll use my home phone. The creators of this app are sick in the head if they think people are gonna spend $120 extra per year. Get a clue.
08-29-2008, 05:14 PM #11
Ok, here is my issue. i pay vonage 15.99 a month for my home phone because ALL wireless providers(ATT, T-mobile, Sprint, Verizon, MetroPCS, Boost) have no service inside or around my house in Miami. i have ATT DSL. if i am reading this thread correctly, the call will actually switch to my wifi inside my house? No more dropped calls inside and around my house?!?!?!? This sounds like it would solve my specific problem, andsave me $5 a month. I would love to be a beta tester! how and where do i contact this company? there are 4 other houses in my neighborhood that have the same issue. if i can demonstrate it works i'm sure i would sign them up.
i also feel that i am not the only one in the country with this problem. i hope i am reading this right, please tell me if i'm not and i'll keep waiting for another solution.
08-29-2008, 05:20 PM #12
Beta testers Round 2 isn't even picked. iCall has to be a monthly service? You might as well offer free calling for what it's going to be worth. If they make us pay for their service it should seem like unlimited calling should be included. And I'm pretty sure someone is going to release a hack that enables it on the 3G or EDGE network. iCall Developers don't have a switch! Apple does xP. So let's start the battle. Release it and see how much money you will get versus how much money you will not receive.
This application will be useless to buy if you need to buy credits. I mean come on! $30 for the first month? $10 dollars after? Why are you charging us an extra $20 for the first month? Maybe you're charging it for the application to be activated? What's the $10 charge for? Minutes!? You're most likely going to charge us a minimum of $10 per month for the minutes which I DON'T HAVE ANY CLUE how much you're willing to provide us with but I have a feeling you will allow us to pay more than $10 per month if we wanted more minutes right? ********.
This is what I'm thinking. When you register for iCall on the iPhone it will call your iPhone's Cell Number and it will probably provide you the code to finish register just like Truphone I assume. Then the number it called you from, will be recognized as your iCall Number and anybody calling that number will either talk to them from the AT&T or T-Mobile network and if the connection is low, it will switch to iCall's application and the call is then taking place over Wifi connections around you?
Why won't you just allow the application to run on wifi? I have a prepaid sim card that will be useless after I'm down to the last dollar. I will use that last dollar to register for your iCall registration service or Truphone's registration and then I will have a useless sim card that cannot let me place calls. BUT anybody can call that cellular number and I will be able to receive it regardless of signals because all I would need is a wifi connection and the calls are then placed over wifi. Great job! D: Another way to bypass having to be on a certain network like AT&T. I could have wifi everywhere I go and still receive or make calls if iCall releases like this. But seriously, what is the $10 charge for per month? Minutes?
Truphone is working on a way to allow iPhone users to receive free inbound calls once it's working. They promised it on their website on the features page where the "No Inbound Charges" are. Nokia users have advantage of this feature as of right now so if you own a Nokia phone that is able to use wifi connections, take advantage of receiving free calls now!
08-29-2008, 05:45 PM #13
Wow....Bad marketing from the jump. I use icall on my desktop and it's free, but limited to 5 mins a call, which is fine with me. 9.99 a month aint my style, Ya dig.
08-29-2008, 05:46 PM #14
i highly doubt i'll use it... but it's very cool they were able to get this working and i'm sure a lot of people will be excited about it!21.5" iMac 3.06 GHz Intel Core i3 l 15" MacBook Pro 2.2 GHz Intel Core i7 l 17" PowerBook 1.67 GHz
iPhone 4 32 GB l TV 160 GB l 32 GB iPad
08-29-2008, 06:08 PM #15
$9.99 a month is not bad at all for unlimited WiFi calling. Of course if you only use 450 minutes a month and don't need to call anyone til after 7 -you'd have no need for this. But for the tons of people who make a lot of calls during prime hours, unlimited WiFi calling for only $10 would take TONS off the bill.
08-29-2008, 07:27 PM #16
I am in the similar situation as an above, virtually no service inside my house. This is a nice idea, but the idea of paying for a service to make calls on my cell phone is a little odd for me. Would be great if there was a PC/MAC option so that you can use this service as your home phone and cell phone.
Little side note... a 3rd party app that would switch call forwarding on and off with a simple touch would go well with this.
Last edited by maadhick; 08-29-2008 at 08:54 PM. Reason: Automerged Doublepost
08-29-2008, 08:15 PM #17
08-29-2008, 08:15 PM #18
I also don't own a car to drive the extra five miles – public transportation and my bike suffice – but rest assured if I was pumping money into a bottomless money pit some people call a vehicle, I am intelligent enough to calculate whether or not the five mile drive for cheaper gas is beneficial.
08-29-2008, 11:01 PM #19
Why wont anyone acknowledge Truphone? i've been using it since the launch, i personally think that it is the first voip app for the iPhone.
08-29-2008, 11:03 PM #20
Why the hell all the ******** about charging VoIP calls? Are you guys all insane? It's one thing if it is over the internet but they have to go through the telecoms to get to other peoples cell phones and land lines. The price is definitely right, though I don't really care for that $30 up front fee.
Now if someone could devise a system where people could use 3g and talk directly to other people on 3g for no charge then that would be amazing. You just need to have enough people on the system for it to be useful.