VoIP applications for the Apple iPhone are hardly a rarity nowadays. But VoxOx Call, launched today, has a different kind of pedigree than most of the others. It is the offspring of Telcentris Inc., the San Diego, Calif.-based purveyor, worldwide, of IP-based cloud communications services.
Telcentris's IP communications platform, built from the ground up, delivers hosted PBX and SIP trunking services to customers around the worldas well as carrier services such as call origination and termination, SMS, DIDs (phone numbers), and a number of other communications and collaboration services. It is this network that powers VoxOx Call.
VoxOx Call is also one of the few communications apps for the iPhone that has a sibling. VoxOx, the PC-based application, was first released toward the end of 2008, and is now in its third major revision. The desktop and mobile versions of VoxOx work hand in hand, and the desktop client adds instant messaging and social networking integration to the communications mix.
Another thing that clearly distinguishes VoxOx from other desktop and mobile calling apps is that, when you sign up, you're allowed to select a free phone number of your ownfrom pretty much anywhere in the U.S. (Canadian numbers are also available, though not free).
According to Telcentris CTO Kevin Hertz, "The phone number you get from VoxOx is the only phone number in the world capable of receiving calls, text messages, and faxes and delivering them to you automatically via the iPhone app or the desktop client." You can also use your VoxOx number as a second line on your iPhone, if you wish.
For most people, though, the big sell will be VoxOx Call's support for the service known as Call Connect. Call Connect lets you make calls anywhere in the world using just your mobile voice minutesplus VoxOx's per-minute calling rate (check rates here). For most of the places you'd be likely to call, rates start at $0.01 to $0.02 per minute.
Oh, and while we're on the subject of rates, VoxOx SMS messages are about as cheap as you'll find anywhere: $0.01 per outbound message in the U.S. and Canada, $0.02 per outbound message for the rest of the world. Incoming texts are free.
Back to Call Connect. Here's how it works: You key in a phone number, or select it from your contacts, click the call button and wait for VoxOx to call you back. Once you answer, it places the other leg of the call. What the cellular carriers sees is two inbound calls.
"We foresee this app becoming particularly popular among mobile users who have international calling needs or are living in areas where domestic outbound mobile calls incur toll fees," said Rob Lewis, Telcentris VP of product management. In Canada, for example, outbound cell calls are quite pricey, while inbound calls are free to the recipient.
Call Connect also brings some PBX features to the iPhone. With simple "star" commands (i.e. "*" plus "1," "2," or "3"), users can turn on call recording, transfer a call to another phone, or launch an audio conference bridge that supports up to 20 participants.
Using the same call-back strategy, VoxOx can connect any two calling devices in the world. (This is where VoxOx Call's compatibility with the iPad and iPod Touch comes in handy, as they are not phones.) In this case the user simply indicates the numbers of both the calling phone and the phone s/he wished to reach.
VoxOx voicemail is easily accessible through both the desktop and mobile applications. Voice messages are automatically transcribed to text and both the MP3 recording and the transcription are pushed to the iPhone, so you can read or listen, as you choose. You can also return the call right from the message area.
Fax reception is similarly transparent. VoxOx automatically detects incoming faxes, so you'll never be greeted by the scream of a fax machine. And, as with voicemail, faxes can be viewed either on the desktop or on the iPhone. They can also be forwarded via e-mail as PDFs. (This is also true for SMS threads, by the way.)
As mentioned parenthetically above, VoxOx Call works with the iPad and iPod Touch as well as the iPhone. The app is available for free download from the Apple App Store (here)