I recently installed a VOIP phone app on my iPod called “Whistle.” Whistle is gives you a free incoming phone number that can be called from other phones, along with free domestic phone calls within the U.S.
Since my Sprint “Simply Everything” phone plan gives me unlimited voice calls within the U.S., I don’t really need the free voice calling feature. However, I installed it because it’s nice to have alternatives available, just in case. Whistle is free. It works, but the call quality is poor.
Nonetheless, a few days ago I found myself unable to use my cell phone, but still needing to make a call. Since I had WiFi available, I remembered I had the Whistle app available and was able to make my call via Whistle without any trouble.
Whistle has poor call quality on my iPod Touch. However, it is a free app and you can make free calls if you are willing to listen to short audio ads just before your call is placed. I like having extra options which can sometimes come in handy, and Whistle worked for me when I needed it to.
Whistle also offers very cheap rates on international calls.
Whistle doesn’t offer the voice quality of Skype, but Skype costs money to place calls to telephones as well as to have an incoming phone number. Whistle offers both of those features for free.
Recently my wife and I moved away from our home in the United States to do some humanitarian work in a developing country. Our internet connection is fairly consistent, though sometimes incredibly sluggish (usually around 256k both ways). In a previous post I wrote about the purchase of Majic Jack. The television sales unit that assigns a United States number and allows for unlimited calling for around $25/year. It has not disappointed for the most part and has allowed us to make calls back to our family even on the slow connection. But you can read that article for a review, so what about the rest of our calling system?
Our current set-up gives us one main phone number from the U.S.A. and allows us nearly unlimited calling for a total of about $75/year. Here is the order of services used.
- Google Voice - This is our “One” number to rule them all. We have given our Google number to all of our friends and family. We then forward on the Google number to our Majic Jack and in-country cell phone. Don’t forget – Google Voice is free! The SMS feature works well, the transcribe voice mail needs some work, the notifications and ease of use are superb.
- LocalPhone.com - A British company that allows you to assign a U.S.A. number to an international number (our in-country cell phone). So whenever Google forwards a call to the LocalPhone number my in-country cell phone rings. For our country the cost is less than 3.5 cents per minute. Not bad at all. Additionally, all incoming calls to cell phones in our country are free (the cell companies make their money on the outgoing calls).
- Majic Jack - You have already read about this product and it’s cost.
So what about the performance? The lag/latency has been astoundingly good. Much better than using a land-line system ever was. Only once did it take so long to make the triple connection (Google to LocalPhone to my cell phone) that the person was directed to voicemail before I could answer. It is times like these that make me write, and fully mean, the overused phrase “Isn’t technology amazing?”