Perhaps one of the most useful features of VoIP for the everyday Joe is that there are several mobile applications that may be utilized from portable devices, like smartphones and tablets, anywhere internet service is available. It’s handy for those that have long distance contacts, whether a few states away or overseas, to have the ability to communicate in a variety of fashions whenever the need arises. Long distance charges have become like Polio – a disease of the past that today’s tools have the power to eradicate.
As Skype gets a lot mention – practically a household name at this point – everyone is likely familiar with the offerings of Skype. Those that are interested in adopting a VoIP solution may have tried Skype to find that what they need is offered only with premium Skype services. It’s perfectly fine to pay for premium service through Skype; however, there are other solutions that may be more viable for those needing enhanced communication abilities. If you’re looking to have a VoIP solution in your home or business you should know that many providers also have applications for smartphones and other tools that may be of value for your specific needs.
Here we’ll take a look at a few services that have more to offer than simply better communication utilities than the telephone can provide:
Vonage – In the past few years, many home users and small businesses that have made the transition to VoIP have done so through Vonage. Vonage starts at a 3 month introductory fee of $10 which gives the ability to use VoIP services through a high speed internet connection. Vonage does raise this to $25.99 after the introductory period, however it still has some great value adds.
- The Vonage Box is a portal for connecting your home phones (not Ethernet based) and PC to your modem or router. This device is coupled with your service and it can be taken anywhere to use your service.
- The Vonage Mobile app is actually free to use, even for those that do not have a Vonage account. Users can contact other Vonage users either through voice or text for free. International calls to those that don’t have the app will save more than half of what traditional services charge (and more than Skype!)
Broadview Networks – In a previous office, I used this company for VoIP. The nice thing about Broadview is that is plays nicely with just about every manufacturer I’ve encountered, even our Android powered “super phone” – the CloudTC. Broadview has a nice mobile app too. For $4, I can tap into my Broadview app on my iPhone which gives me access to all my voicemails, just like I was at the office but through an interface much like voicemail in the regular Apple phone app.
[Beautiful, isn’t it? You know you want one.]
ooVoo – I love talking about ooVoo but I hate how it’s ostracized by the different word processors I use because of the awkward capitalization aesthetics (and I believe is sometimes confused for verb, à la Microsoft Word), much like in Apple naming conventions. The best part about ooVoo is that, yes it is VoIP based, but the interface is what makes it great. You can video chat for free with up to 12 people. Personally, most of my projects involve 6 to 8 people, which makes this the perfect tool to have quick meetings on the fly when used from my phone, or more productive collaboration time when we can afford to spend time for a sit down in front of our PCs or Macs.