Google on Tuesday announced that calls placed within the United States and Canada using Google Voice will continue to be free through the end of 2012. “This is our way of helping you connect with friends and family across the country,” Group Product Manager Vincent Paquet wrote on a company blog. Google stated last year that calls made within the U.S. and Canada would be free through 2011, but the company is extending the promotion through 2012 for reasons unknown. Google Voice was born from Google’s acquisition of GrandCentral in 2007, and the later acquisition of Gizmo5 in 2009 is expected to eventually add VoIP capabilities to the service. For the time being, VoIP calling is only supported from within Gmail. More →
AT&T recently launched its new “AT&T Call International” VoIP application that, exactly as its name implies, allows its customers to place international phone calls from their AT&T’s phones using a Wi-Fi connection anywhere in the world. AT&T’s per-minute VoIP rates are cheaper than its international roaming plans and, judging from AT&T’s product page, calls placed to wireline phones appear to be more affordable than those placed to wireless phones. Customers will be billed for calls placed through the app directly on their credit cards at the end of each monthly billing cycle. AT&T Call International is available for free from the Android Market, BlackBerry App World and in Apple’s iOS App Store. More →
Last week, we told you about a weakness discovered in Skype’s Android client. The issue stemmed from a combination of incorrect file permissions and lack of encryption usage on the database files used to store contact information, chat history, and more. The company has gone ahead and updated said client, and as an added bonus has included the ability to make VoIP calls via your phone’s 3G data connection. “Calling over your 3G connection is available worldwide – now including the US,” reads the post. We can’t see any reason not to mosey on over to the Android Market and update to the latest version of Skype. The scannable QR code is after the jump. More →
Viber, the popular iPhone application that allows for free calling to other Viber users, has been updated to version 2.0.1. After applying the update, Viber users will be able to send and receive free text messages to one another, complete with notifications. Viber has also been updated with a number of UI changes — the favorites have been moved, the calling mechanism has been improved and now shows the current state of any Viber call, and the application now has a deactivation feature. The update is available in iTunes now. More →
Now this, is awesome. Sprint and Google have just announced that they have worked together to give practically all Sprint wireless subscribers the ability to start using Google Voice immediately without any effort. It will literally be as simple as entering your number into your Google Voice account; the system will recognize that it’s a Sprint number and ask you if you’d like to use it as your Google Voice number. The best part? Google Voice apps aren’t needed anymore, and this works with practically any phone and OS. Android, BlackBerry, feature phones — it doesn’t matter. Any calls or text messages you send from your phone will appear in your Google Voice account, and you’ll be able to place calls or send texts from your Google Voice account online as well. What’s even cooler is that when you make international calls, it will automatically use Google Voice, thus affording deep discounts compared to standard international calling.
In an email correspondence with blog Phone Scoop earlier today, Sprint confirmed that it too would provide its customers with free calling and text messaging to Japanese phone lines. The news comes just hours after both AT&T and Verizon Wireless announced similar policies for both their wireless and wireline subscribers. Although the U.S.’s fourth largest carrier — T-Mobile — was the first to offer this courtesy when an earthquake struck Haiti back in January of 2010, the company has, up to this point, been silent. AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon have all committed to waiving fees assessed to users making a donation to the Japanese relief effort via text message. More →
Among the more aggravating predicaments gadget fans often find themselves in are the scenarios where devices break or accounts get over-billed and phone calls to customer service must be made. The only sure way to make these situations even more aggravating, of course, is to navigate through a maze of key-presses and then sit on hold for 13 minutes before a call is finally connected. Thankfully, services like FastCustomer look to ease the tension a bit by waiting on hold in place of the user and then and connecting the call only once an operator has picked up the phone. Companies like Fonolo have been trying to tackle the same problem for quite some time, but no other service offers the simple UI and the smooth user experience FastCustomer affords — input the name of the company you want to reach, key in your phone number, then sit back while the magic happens. FastCustomer’s Web-based service is completely free for the time being, and it has an app in Apple’s App Store for $0.99. The company is also looking to connect with an Android developer to build a Google-friendly app, but no word on a time line. Hit the break for a video explaining how FastCustomer works. More →
According to the latest intel gathered by TmoNews, the nation’s fourth largest carrier, T-Mobile, will begin offering two new, pre-paid international calling plans on March 13th. Aimed at those who frequently dial from the U.S. to friends and family internationally, the plans include unlimited calling to landlines in 50+ countries, unlimited text messaging to any mobile phone in over 220 countries, and discounted calling to international mobile and landline numbers. The plans look like this:
- $60 – International Unlimited Talk & Text with 100MB of domestic data
- $80 – International Unlimited Talk & Text with 2GB of domestic data
Both plans also include unlimited, domestic voice minutes and text messages. That’s a pretty strong offering — especially in the pre-paid category — from T-Mo. Thoughts? More →
Skype updates iOS app for Verizon iPhone; video calling coming to Verizon, Android sets February 28th?
Two quick bits of Skype news to report. Today, the internet-based communications company has posted an update to its iOS client. The new code allows the app to function on the Verizon iPhone and adds H.264 support. The additional MP4-codec will allow users to place calls from their iOS device to a wider range of Skype-enabled devices, including TVs.
The second, less official bit of Skype news comes courtesy of blog Droid-Life. The site has acquired information that indicates video-calling capabilities will be coming to Skype mobile for Android — for Verizon Wireless devices only — on the 28th of February. Unfortunately, it does look like those with LTE, Android handsets will be the only ones able to utilize the voice calling capabilities — it is unclear whether you will have to actually be connected to Verizon’s LTE network to initiate a video call. We should know more in the coming weeks. More →
AT&T will be launching its Unlimited Messaging with Mobile to Any Mobile plan tomorrow. Just ahead of the launch, BGR has acquired an internal AT&T memo that details exactly what customers will have to do to qualify for said plans. Spoiler alert: not much. Surprisingly, there isn’t any fine print with AT&T’s latest offering. Customers with individual, post-paid lines costing between $39.99 and $59.99 per month are eligible for the unlimited texting and mobile to mobile offer — individual plans over $59.99 include unlimited calling. Customers with family, post-paid lines costing between $69.99 and $109.99 per month are also eligible for the offering — family plans over $109.99 *drumroll* include unlimited calling. That’s pretty much it… no red tape. Who’s jumping on this tomorrow?
Piggybacking on an offering available to Sprint customers for some time, AT&T will launch an unlimited “Mobile to Any Mobile” calling plan beginning tomorrow. Details on the plan, for the time being, are scarce. What we do know is that users will be required to have the $20, unlimited text-messaging plan ($30 for family plans) to be eligible for the program. No word on whether there will be an added fee for the any mobile-to-mobile privilege, or if it will now be a part of the unlimited messaging plan. Seems like a pretty good deal if it’s included free of charge… thoughts?
UPDATE: Unlimited, any mobile to mobile calling is included free with the unlimited text messaging plan. The full press release just crossed the wire and is waiting for you after the break. More →
Today, VoIP chat and calling provider Skype announced a new version of its iOS client simply titled Skype 3.0. The new code brings several, small improvements and, most notably, adds the ability to make and receive video-calls from your supported iOS device over both 3G and Wi-Fi networks. As the press release reads:
Skype video calling is supported over WiFi and 3G* data connections. You can enjoy video calls with users on all Skype desktop versions and with other Skype for iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad users.
You can make video calls in both portrait and landscape mode and use both front and back cameras.
Users on iPhone 4, 3GS and iPod Touch (4th Generation) can enjoy full 2-way video calling. Users with iPod Touch (3rd Generation) and iPads can receive video.
Video calling with Skype requires iOS 4.0 or above to be installed on your device. Skype 3.0 for iPhone will also work on iOs 3.x, but without video support.
The new bits are waiting to be downloaded via iTunes or the App Store on your iOS device. Enjoy! More →
Google announced Monday the extension of a free calling initiative for U.S.-based Gmail users that was set to expire this month. “In the spirit of holiday giving and to help people keep in touch in the new year,” Google has extended free calling in the U.S. and Canada through the end of 2011. The promotion applies to all calls made from within Gmail, and is completely separate from Google Voice, which also affords free calling to the U.S. and Canada. Gmail’s recently added voice calling feature is thought to be a prelude to the eventual addition of VoIP services to Google Voice. More →