When Jon from Fring emailed me to say that they now support Twitter, I immediately thought of Phoneboy. If you follow his blog at all, you’ll know he is a Twitter devotee and frequently defends Twitter from jaded skeptics and nay-sayers. So, does this mean that now we can expect Phoneboy to Fritter (Fring plus Twitter)?
BTW: I see that he’s also now blogging at See Into S60. Way to go!
Laptop magazine has a review of Fring, Talkster, Nimbuzz and Barablu. These four apps turn your good old cell phone into an internet phone and more. Of the four, Nimbuzz is new to me and Barablu I haven’t tried yet. Fring and Talkster I’ve used and quite like, although I think having a great handset makes all the difference. I wouldn’t bother with any of these if I didn’t have the Nokia N80i to test with.
The review does a good job of capturing the typical setup process for all applications, and gives both the pros and cons of usability, call quality and the like. Author Joanna Stern points out that “regardless of which mobile VoIP service you use, you’re going to need an unlimited data plan, which costs anywhere from $5.99 per month (T-Mobile) to $24.99 (Cingular)”.
Edited May 17, 2007:
James Wanless of Talkster clarified for me that their service in fact does not require a data plan:
One thing that I wanted to point out to your readers though is that Talkster doesn’t require an unlimited data plan. In fact, quite the opposite. Once you have selected who you want to talk to, the voice portion of the call travels over the regular cellular voice channels and uses your “in plan” minutes. You can always count on the voice channel to be available and the quality to be consistent or at least a known quantity which we feel is the right approach given the point of evolution of cellular networks today.
Jon from Fring just pointed me to this video of Fring on the Nokia N95. Thanks Jon.
One of the things I try to do on this blog is try things–new consumer VOIP products, downloads, etc. You can get commentary on industry news like who’s buying who, or who just closed shop, in places like GigaOm.
Admittedly, I don’t get to try a lot of hardware, just software mostly, but if you’re looking for that kind of thing, VOIP and Gadgets or Smith on VOIP are good bets.
But this week Andy Abramson, in Living with Softphones, posted a neat-and-tidy roundup of some VOIP tools he’s been using, and I like it because he lists only what he’s used (or experimented with), and explains how he uses them. I think this kind of post is really useful. Don’t you really wanna know just how you’re supposed to use all this stuff in the real world? I know I do. Thanks A. Alec Saunders also posts quite often on VOIP adventures with his Blackberry, and Phoneboy writes about handsets he’s using (because all other hardware is just too boring). Check them both out too.
For my part, I use on a regular basis:
Skype: for chat and calls to Skype buddies
Gizmo: for general softphone calling
PhoneGnome: for long distance calling to reg phones
SightSpeed: for video calls
GrandCentral: for simplifying inbound calling. I’m using it to funnel calls through my Gizmo account.
Fring: for mobile calls to Skype buddies (still experimenting mostly)
Since I cancelled Vonage in August, I haven’t signed on with another subscriber service. However, I’ll be trying one soon.
Luca got the scoop on this one this morning. (Or is it afternoon for him?) Fring now works with SIP services like Gizmo Project, VoipCheap, VoipStunt and Free World DialUp. It’s still in beta mode, but I’m going to download it today and see what’s what (handy to do on my Nokia N80i).
Fring is a free application for your mobile phone that lets you talk with fring, Skype, GoogleTalk, MSN and now SIP-based applications over VoIP, GSM, WiFi and PSTN networks.
I’ve used it most with my Skype buddy list. On my phone, I can see who’s available on Skype and who’s not, etc.
At present, fring is only available on certain Nokia handsets (Symbian 8 – Series 60 and N Series phones). See a visual list of compatible handsets on their web site (look under “Minimum Requirements”).
Have you noticed that it’s raining mobile VOIP these days? Information Week asserts that VOIP has finally hit the mainstream wireless market and points to Fring, JaJah Mobile and Windows Mobile 6 as indicators who’ve all had new announcements this week. Truphone is also part of that crowd.
Tom Keating reviews Jajah Mobile on his blog. Check it out.
As a consumer, I’m happy there are options. But I’m also a consumer who’s not really ready. This mobile VOIP stuff means more decisions. What’s most important to me? Being in touch with my Skype contacts, my Google Talk buddies, my JaJah list or some other list somewhere? Do I like downloading an application to my phone or would I rather not–too finicky? Do I need multiple phone numbers for my cell phone? I like to use the Wi-Fi capability of my nifty Nokia N80i, but cruising around my usual haunts in town I’ve yet to find a free access point (obviously I need to get out more). The only place I’ve used mobile VOIP is from the comfort of my own desk.
I’ve installed Fring on my Nokia N80i and got it working. (Yahoo!!) I won’t bore you again with my installation woes but this time I’m pretty sure it wasn’t me that was the problem.
When connected to a Wi-Fi access point, I’m able to make and receive calls and/or chats from Skype contacts. Of all the softphone-type VOIP applications I’ve tried, I have by far the most contacts in Skype so Fring will be useful to me for that reason alone. Using SkypeOut credit, I can make VOIP calls to non-Skype numbers. So far, I’d rate the call quality to Skype contacts as 7/10, which I think is pretty good. At least no echo, no echo.