Thursday, March 26, 2009

Finally, Skype client for iPhone coming!

Well there are many startups that support Skype calling, texting and presence from iPhone. We always wondered why Skype doesn’t come up with their own client. Hold on to your breathe; your wish might come true soon. According to Om, Skype is almost ready to launch its own client for iPhone sometimes next week. Watch out for CTIA next Wednesday, perhaps they might announce something during the CTIA event.

This should be a bad news to all those startups (fring, mig33, iSkoot, nimbuzz etc) riding on the Skype interface support from mobile hype. Maybe it’s high time these startups get over the Skype hype and diversify themselves. Some of the startups like iSkoot and others have realized and are moving in different direction.

I’m still not sure if AT&T would allow skype to use their 3G networks for Skype to Skype voice calling. I have my own doubts about this. Maybe they would allow voice calls via WI-FI and not 3G. More updates to come. So stay tuned!

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Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Jaxtr on the go, Free International calls!

Economy is bad. Don’t worry, Jaxtr is here to help you guys make free/low-cost international calls. Last December they had announced a new feature called FreeConnect, using which members could make unlimited free mobile or landline calls to other jaxtr members worldwide. However, web interface was required to use the service. They are enhancing this feature by allowing users to dial from his/her mobile or landline phone and type in the number they want to call. According to CNET, the new service is called Jaxtr-on-the-go. The company has more than 150 toll free numbers worldwide. Check out the following webpage to find the nearest toll-free number.

Here is how you make a call:
•You dial the toll-free number and type in the number of your friend/family that u want to talk.
•For free call, you wait on the phone while jaxtr sends and SMS message to your friend/family’s phone number. A local number is offered to them using which they can get connected to the call.
•Subsequently, these phone numbers can be used to call each other

If you don’t have the patience to wait for the call to get connected, you could use buy low cost jax credits and call directly.

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Monday, March 23, 2009

Skype Marriage with SIP, Half Hearted!

Skype announced the launch of a beta version of Skype for SIP. It’s a very calculated move from eBay to introduce skype to the corporate world. This solution allows the SIP community to reach 405 million skype users. For all those folks that were pushing for some kind of Skype to SIP interop, this maybe a small wish fulfilled. I still don’t think it’s a transparent interconnect between Skype and SIP. What this solution promises is a one to one mapping between your SIP IP-PBX IP address to a skype id (The Skype ID that u create as part of the registration with business skype). So an incoming skype call to the IP-PBX could be routed to any of the local endpoint connected to the PBX. For e.g., a business user could create a skype account called customersupport and map the same with his companies SIP IP-PBX. So any skype users could call customersupport without knowing that it’s actually being answered by a non skype client. In addition, all these configurations are controlled by web site.

So is this a move by Skype to counter all those accusation hurled at them for being closed and proprietary. Well I guess not. They see a huge potential in the enterprise telephony market and this is an excellent ploy to become a gateway between the SIP IP-PBX world and the PSTN world. They were already using SIP for PSTN interface. Now they are extending the same interface to other corporate IP-PBX network. I don’t understand why the technology community is so excited by this ploy. Agreed, it’s a big leap for a company that was used to supporting closed protocol for so many years. I see this as purely a business case driven decision and nothing more than that. Not sure what will be the fate of "Skype for Asterisk", another initiative by skype and asterisk. I guess Skype for SIP is conflicting with Skype for Asterisk. This announcement should be big blow to SkypeForAterisk program. Also, SFA is $1000 per seat and SFS comes absolutely free. Phil Wolf from Skype Journal has a comparison chart between SFS and SFA. Hope folks at digium can come up with something new to justify the cost and compete with SFS.

Here are some of the features supported by Skype for SIP:
• Receive and manage inbound calls from the 405 million Skype users worldwide on SIP-enabled PBX systems, connecting the company website to the PBX system using Skype click-to-call buttons
• Place calls via Skype to landlines and mobile phones worldwide from any connected SIP-enabled PBX, saving your business money with Skype’s low rates
• Purchase Skype online numbers to receive calls to the corporate PBX from landlines or mobile phones
• Manage Skype calls using your existing hardware and system applications such as call routing, conferencing, phone menus, voicemail and call recording and logging – no additional downloads or training are required

For further reading on this topic:
Dan York has written an excellent article describing the technical nitty-gritty details and it’s worth a read.
Jim Courtney
Om has some good points to make

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Sunday, March 15, 2009

JaikuEngine, New MicroBlogging open source kid

As expected, Google moved Jaiku Jaiku to its own hosting platform Google App engine. In addition, they open sourced the JaikuEngine Code Base under Apache License 2.0 . This should be enticing news to all those hard core hackers. With micorblogging service Twitter gaining phenomenal traction from mainstream media, I’m sure; developers would be itching to give JaikuEngine a try. Hope to see innovation happening using Jaiku Engine.

Anyone with little knowledge of Google App Engine and python should be able to run their own localized version of MicroBlogging service. It makes lot of sense for Organizations to use this engine to power their own localized version of MicroBlogging. Something similar to Yammer. Also, the new Jaiku Engine supports OAuth. Earlier, Jaiku was renamed to JaikuEngine. There are some changes with JaikuEngine compared to Jaiku. Some features like feed fetching and International SMS is disabled in JaikuEngine. Other features like the website, SMS (in the US only) and IM bot are still supported.

So looks like the success of JaikuEngine will be determined by the number of developers adopting it, and at the same time building innovative features. We all know twitter is everyone’s darling including me. Except for Twitter, none of the other (pownce, identical, plurk etc) MicroBlogging services are no where close to be called success. Unless we see a strong developer community embracing JaikuEngine, don’t see a bright future. (I have downloaded the source code of JaikuEngine, will update more soon. Stay Tuned! )

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Thursday, March 12, 2009

Google Voice, the new Grand Central

Finally Grand Central finds its way out. We were all wondering what would happen to Grand Central after Google acquire them July 2007. Earlier Google canned some of the other products that it acquired. It’s a smart move from the giant not to trash Grand Central, Which, in my opinion, is a great product. Google just release a preview of Google Voice , an application that helps you better manage your voice communication. The downside is it’s available only to the currently subscribed users. I’m one of the lucky early users of Grand Central. Though, lately I have not logged into my Grand Central account.

Here are some of the features of Google Voice:

• Call screening - Announce and screen callers
• Listen in - Listen before taking a call . It’s cool that u can listen to the voice mail being recorded and a chance to talk to the caller while he is recording his voice message.
• Block calls - Keep unwanted callers at bay . I love this feature. Now you have a way to block all those annoying telemarketers and spam calls. Lately, I have been getting so many spam calls.
• SMS - Send, receive, and store SMS
• Place calls - Call US numbers for free . Enjoy the free calls.
• Taking calls - Answer on any of your phones
• Phone routing - Phones ring based on who calls
• Forwarding phones - Add phones and decide which ring
• Conference calling - Join people into a single call
• Call record - Record calls and store them online
• Call switch - Switch phones during a call
• Mobile site - View your inbox from your mobile
• Personalize greeting - Vary greetings by caller
• Listen to voicemail - Check online or from your phone

I love some of the features like the ability to send, receive and store SMS messages. Also, listen in is awesome. Based on the message somebody is leaving, I have a way to connect back to them right away. More like an answering machine. The service is going to be free. For international calls, users can purchase credits( similar to skype,gizmo etc). More to come. Stay tuned!

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Monday, March 2, 2009

Don’t miss Emerging Communication Conference

Tomorrow is Emerging communication conference, and if you are in SFO by any chance, this should be one of the must event to attend. eComm is the world's leading-edge telecom, Internet communications and mobile innovation event built to both showcase and accelerate innovation; and to explore radical new opportunities - together.

It has an impressive list of speakers. Some of my favorites:

• No Numbers and My CallerID - The Receivers in Charge!
Stuart Henshall, Phweet
• Pushing Numbers Beyond Telephony
Rodrigue Ullens, Voxbone
• The Open Screen Project
Anup Murarka, Adobe
• Codec Evolution and Industry Proposal
Jonathan Christensen, Skype
• Voice 2.0 Applications in a Mobile Environment
Alec Saunders, Iotum
• Looking Back at a Year of Deep Dialing: The Present and Future of Phone Menus
Shai Berger, Fonolo
• Ruby & Groovy & EMCAScript - Oh My! Developing Telephony Applications theScripting Way
RJ Auburn, Voxeo
• Ribbit API for the Flash Platform
Wes Leonardo, Ribbit
• Cloud Telephony - Why You Need More Than an API
Irv Shapiro, IfByPhone
• Skype and Asterisk: What it Means for Business Communications
Mark Spencer, Digium
• Voice 2.0 - New Ways to Monetize Voice - Panel Introduction
Jon Arnold, J Arnold & Associates
• The Park Bench Manifesto: Why We Want To Kill Off The PSTN
Dan York, Voxeo
• Taking a SIP of Java - Building Voice Mashups using SIP Servlets
RJ Auburn, Voxeo
• Where's the money in Voice 2.0?
Martin Geddes, BT

More speaker list and additional information here

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