Large-scale conference calls with *better* voice quality than the PSTN (using Skype)
A video greeting from IETF 70 in Vancouver

Truphone embeds an IAX softphone into Facebook that lets you make calls to regular phones for free

200711301329The major product Dean Elwood has been working on now that he has moved to Truphone is the Facebook application that Truphone announced two days ago. Their blog provides a link to the Facebook application and, of course, in true Truphone style, offers us a video with cows:

I've not yet had a chance to do more with it than install it and play a bit with the configuration options:

but I'm very much looking forward to giving it a try. There are several interesting aspects to this app for me:

  • It is an embedded softphone (Java-based). No extra software you need. Just click the button and you can call the person who has it on their Facebook profile. To my knowledge this is the first time we've seen this in a Facebook app.
  • From the user side, you can link that button to any of the following:
    • Your Truphone number.
    • Any regular landline or mobile phones in the US or Canada.
    • A SIP address.
    • A Google Talk address.
  • A GrandCentral phone number.
  • The Facebook app uses the IAX protocol used primarily by Asterisk. This gets around all of the firewall/NAT traversal issues that plague SIP.

All of that makes for an interesting new app inside of Facebook. Now, there are already a number of "click-to-call" Facebook apps out there (some of which I've covered here) but in his announcement of moving to Truphone, Dean talks about what is different:

There are several click to call/callback/speak type applications already on Facebook. The differentiator here, and the interesting part about this application (and also the hardest part) is that we’ve embedded a JAVA based softphone right into the heart of Facebook. This makes the experience from a user point of view seamless with the Facebook environment. The user never leaves Facebook, they speak into Facebook. Additionally, the "call me" button for this application is not restricted to your own profile page - it functions as a Facebook attachment, which means it can be dropped onto a friends Wall, or added to a Facebook mail message or any other attachment-accepting application which exists on Facebook now or might do in the future.

So now Facebook users can put this "Call Me For Free" button in other locations within Facebook... and Facebook users can use this as a way to stay inside of Facebook but yet new mix in voice communication to people outside of Facebook. Now I can look up someone in Facebook and then simply click the call button to reach them by voice directly.

I look forward to experimenting with the application in the next week or two. Those of you who are Facebook users and want to try it out can simply install the application.

What do you think? Do you think people will use this app? Does voice have a role mixed into a social network like Facebook?

Technorati Tags: , , , ,