Over the past year one of the leading IP-based voice service offerings for low cost international calling from wireless smartphones has been Truphone whose service primarily runs over WiFi access points; Their more recently launched Truphone Anywhere service provides an option for making calls via 3G networks using a combination of the data channel and voice channel in a manner similar to iSkoot’s architecture where the caller’s VoIP client resides on the service provider’s server(s). When the Apple App store launched last summer Truphone launched an iPhone 3G application that once again offers the ability to make outbound calls over a WiFi access point.
One more user experience consideration: a key user friendly Truphone feature is its complete Address Book integration; when using Truphone on a N95 8GB I can simply go to my standard address book (synchronized with my Outlook Contacts), select a contact, select a phone number for the contact, press the green “Call” button and initiate a call over Truphone.
So it was not a total surprise, with this experience, that today Truphone announced a new Truphone application for the second generation iPod Touch, which supports a headset with a microphone. But it’s not simply about making low cost phone calls. Support for chat and social networking has also been included. From the press release:
Truphone for iPod Touch will become a one-stop-shop social hub with the following features coming soon:
- Calling to landlines (PSTN) at low cost (simply set yourself up with a Truphone account);
- Instant messaging to Skype and MSN (free);
- Calling to Skype users (free);
- Calling to MSN users (free);
- Check and set facilities for Twitter (free);
- Check and set facilities for Facebook (free).
Contrary to what many in the media are saying, the client that resides on the iPod Touch is a thin client, not a VoIP client. This client supplies a Truphone server with the information required to open and set up a VoIP client on the server which, in turn, completes the call via a VoIP connection.
What can we envision from this announcement for future releases of Truphone for Nokia, BlackBerry, iPhone 3G and Windows Mobile devices? Beyond the calling and SMS features currently available in their respective Truphone clients I expect we’ll be seeing:
- Truphone access to Skype IM and calls to Skype contacts, as well as to Microsoft Live contacts
- Facebook access, including possibly the ability to import Facebook contacts into your phone address book
- Following Twitter messages
In addition, Truphone is a Voxbone iNum partner; initially Truphone for iPod Touch users will be assigned an iNum “883” country code number. I have also recently observed use of iNum “883” numbers on iotum’s Calliflower conferencing service and at Mobivox. Using Skype today, I confirmed that placing a Skype call to an iNum “883” number results in a SkypeOut call with the appropriate charges.
Looks like we’re about to see some interesting innovation coming from Truphone over the next few months.
Andy Abramson at VoIP Watch talks about some of the broader implications of the technology behind this announcement.
Update: Pat Phelan does not think an iPod Touch is a phone device; it’s not simply a case of “because you can do it”.
Tags: Truphone, Skype, iPod Touch, iNum