Apple recently approved voice over iPhone’s 3G data connection, and now Fring and iCall have beaten both Skype and Truphone in updating their respective iPhone applications to take advantage of the newly approved feature. The other two possible voice conduits -which already existed for the iPhone and some other smartphones- are GSM and WiFi. In this article, I’ll review what these two applications have done so far, and what they’ve added with this newly approved third option. I’ll also cover Fring’s new video calling over 3G option.
As I first explained in T©pper’s predictions for iPhoneOS 4.0, iCall is the closest thing to UMA that has ever hit the iPhone so far. UMA means seamless call switching between a GSM and a WiFi connection with a single phone number. UMA has been existence for many years, and I have been a happy user of it. Among UMA’s benefits are:
- Reception where the GSM signal won’t normally reach (i.e. your home or many office buildings)
- Saving on minutes (especially if you are not already on an unlimited plan)
- Zero roaming fee when you are out of your home country, and connected via WiFi (Look for the UMA indication on the screen.)
- Better battery life, since the phone’s transmitter produces a much lower wattage to reach the closest WiFi router, rather than the closest GSM tower
- Less radiation to your head, for the reason mentioned above
Read more about UMA in T©pper’s predictions for iPhoneOS 4.0. The iCall application is free from the iPhone AppStore, and the service -if you want an incoming phone number- costs US$9.95/month. Now iCall has added 3G to the mix of possible voice conduits, which previously included GSM and WiFi calling. Check out iCall’s videos here. They are compatible with both iPhones and desktop computers.
Fring is also a free application from the iPhone AppStore. Fring’s strengths are quite different from iCall’s. Although Fring has never offered seamless call switching between a GSM and a WiFi connection, Fring has always offered a single application that has offered access to a great list of networks/protocols, including AIM, Facebook, GoogleTalk, ICQ, MSN Messenger, SIP (an Internet Telephony protocol, not any specific network), Skype, and Yahoo. Fring has previously offered chat with text, audio, and video, on multiple mobile devices, but on the iPhone, the audio and video has been limited to WiFi up until now. Now that Apple has approved voice and video over 3G, Fring has added those capabilities to the Fring iPhone application. Check out the video below:
A Fring team member describes Fring’s new video over 3G feature. This video is compatible with both iPhone and desktop computers.
Please note that Fring’s video calling is currently unidirectional. The iPhone receives video from a computer, but does not currently transmit video from the iPhone. For the moment, even a mirror won’t help!
Sidebar: Why T©pper objects to the term “VoIP”
I vehemently object to the term “VoIP”, which strangely stands for “Voice over Internet Protocol”. We are not talking about any protocol! We are talking about Voice over the Internet, without making reference to protocols. When I want to make reference to a protocol, that’s different. When referring to Voice over the Internet, in English, I say “Internet telephony”, and in Castilian, I say: “telefonía intern©tica“. Let’s keep it simple!
Allan T©pper’s articles and seminars
Get a full index of Allan T©pper’s articles and upcoming seminars at AllanTepper.com. Listen to his podcast TecnoTur, together with Tanya Castañeda, Rub©n Abruña, and Liliana Marín, free via iTunes or at