VOIP Related Services
I want to use this page as a rundown of the many voip services available today on the internet. We usually think of a voip service as one that simply provides you a phone number, ability to make and receive calls, but some of these services have different and interesting features and uses. For that reason I want to compile the names and addresses of these services and give a rundown of some of the features they offer which make them unique.
Google Voice – available by invitation from google only right now, Google voice is the descendant of GrandCentral. The concept here is that you sign up and can choose a phone number, which can be yours for life. When people call this Google Voice number you can have all of your other phones ring, or you can customize it to have specific phones ring depending on the caller id. If you want a special outbound voice mail greeting that can be customized by group or individual caller. Individual inbound messages are recorded/transcribed and a transcript is emailed to you and if you choose to, you can receive the voicemail as a text message on your cell phone. Using your google voice number you can also call out, in fact outbound calls from your google voice number are free within the continental US. Conference calling is possible (with up to three callers) as is annotating calls in your call log on the Google Voice website, recording calls and even call blocking for unidentified or specific callers.
Voiceshot – Using voice shot you can make outbound prerecorded message calls to a specific list of recipients. You can also conduct surveys using voice shot. They can also let you send text messages to a group of recipients. They also have services that allow for rapid deployment of emergency alert voice or text messages (the kinds of things that school systems and businesses may be interested in to get the word out to employees/students.) They offer inbound services as well with virtual receptionist, 800 numbers possible. With these inbound services call extensions can be forwarded to other numbers making essentially a virtual office possible.
Spinvox – Spinvox takes voice messages and converts them to text. They’ve been in the news lately because apparently they’ve outsourced some of the transcription to people instead of the automated computer software that they claimed. These text messages can then be sent to your email inbox, blog, wall or space.
IPKall – The link is to phone.ipkall.com – where you can sign up for your free Washington State phone number. So, if you have a sip account that doesn’t provide you with a “real world” phone number you can sign up there and get a free phone number (it is in Washington state so long distance may apply for your contacts calling you…) One note – 30 days of inactivity will lead to the number being freed up and assigned to someone else.
Gtalk22voip – with this services you can call and receive calls from sip addresses using your instant messenger whether that be google talk, msn, yahoo, etc. This is really meant to be a bridge between Sip/landlines and instant messaging clients.
ReQall – Reqall is touted partly as a memory aid – you can call it and have your notes/messages transcribed to text, you can send emails to your reqall account and have calendar items scheduled from your message, so it is a note taker and organizer. In some ways it seems to be feeling the area of a digital personal assistant. It can also message you with reminders and “jogs” to jog your memory about to-do list and calendar items. Standard (free) and pro($25/year) accounts available. Looks interesting – I ought to try their free service or a bit to see how it works. Update – just signed up – looks like it could be some fun to play with.
Gizmo5 – Gizmo/Gizmo5/ The gizmo project – sip provider – client software is cross platform and free to download (closed source though I think.) Connects to Google Voice and can be one of the phone numbers that GV rings when you receive an incoming call. Client software may be configurable to work with other sip providers… (not tested.)
Ekiga – voip software (and video conferencing) and also free SIP address provider. I haven’t found this one to work quite as well as gizmo, but ekiga is also cross platform (and open source). You can sign up for a sip address with ekiga.net Client software can work with most any sip provider account.
Skype – Skype was the first big name that came to prominence to capture the publics attention with an audio/video chat platform. The software is free to download (not open source), and is not directly sip compatible although sites such as gizmo (above) give ways to forward calls to a skype number.
Voicemailnumber.com – single number to give all your contacts (similar in concept there to google Voice), can accept faxes. Packages start from $7.95/month.
(More to come later.)