Talkatone: Social & Essential Mobile VoIP
Today, we're going to talk about...Talkatone. It's a free download from the App Store for the iPhone, and available on Google play for the Android. Talkatone essentially taps into your Facebook and/or Google account, connecting you with "friends" or "buddies" from each, respectively. Users may text the former while they can either call or text the latter. Google users in the U.S. and Canada may make FREE phone calls and send texts to the same locations gratis as well. The Facebook features are also free, and Talkatone stands as one of those "friendly" applications where you'll never have to worry about hidden fees or charges.
Options are limited to only messaging using Facebook, while linking Talkatone to Google opens up more "VoIP-esque" capabilities. Calls with Talkatone can be made over a 3G or Wi-Fi connection, with 3 different types of calls: Facebook-based Talkatone-to-Talkatone calls, GTalk-based Talkatone-to-Talkatoe or Talkatone-to-Mac/PC calls, and Google Voice-based calls, which includes those to regular telephone numbers. All features are unlimited and always free, even internationally, although data charges may still apply for international Google Voice calls.
Google Voice VoIP calls will not work initially, as a little bit of footwork is involved before enjoying free calls on Talkatone. Users will first need to modify their Google services account by visiting voice.google.com, logging in, clicking "Voice Settings", enabling Forward to Google chat, then visiting gmail.com, pulling up their contact list, and clicking the "Call Phone" action at the lower left section of the page. After these steps, users should make one call to their regular number using the softphone, and then all will be set. This will in essence create a bridge between the two applications, forwarding calls from Google Voice to Talkatone and allowing calls to made from Talkatone to contacts within Google Voice.
As far as receiving calls, Talkatone runs in the background and will notify of the incoming call in real-time. The application uses backgrounding mode, which is exclusive to iOS 4, making this calling aspect incompatible with older Apple devices. The reason for this is that the device in use must be multitasking-capable - the included devices are the iPhone 3GS/4, iPod Touch 3gen/4gen, and the iPad.
I'm hard-pressed to find anything negative about this app, and will candidly say that I've used it in the past to communicate with my collective compadres on Facebook and Google. The calls are clear, crisp, and best of all...free of charge. The messaging interface is also silky, with the same features I enjoy in the iMessage system and more.
There's got to be a catch, right? I hate truly hate to burst anyone's bubble by saying that there really isn't. However, if advertisements truly drive you mad, you use Talkatone professionally, etc. -- they may be disabled for the duration of a month for 99 cents, one year for $6.99, and permanently for $9.99. Otherwise ads will appear at the bottom, which aren't overbearing or obnoxious after all. Talkatone have to pay bills like anyone else, so the existence of ads is easy to overlook and even empathize with. If you run into any issues along the way, Talkatone's Support Center works on a ticket system, and replies are guaranteed within 24 hours.
Communication is universally understood to be essential, and even more so while on the go - Talkatone lets you do just that for free. Not only is it free, Talkatone allows you for instance, to disable your cell service while on a trip abroad and strictly use your data plan to avoid long-distance, roaming charges or simply eating up minutes. As Mobile VoIP continues to grow, applications like Talkatone are a real shot in the arm to this proliferation. If on vacation, the hotel Wi-Fi might be something you'll welcome with open arms and be more than glad to utilize. In addition, Airlines like Delta and Southwest now offer In-flight Wi-Fi Access, meaning you can communicate to those on Earth while at 10,000 feet or more from your mobile phone. Applications like Talkatone make it so that airplane mode won't leave you in isolation mode, putting the world at your fingertips and making Mobile VoIP both appealing and simple to use.
If you are already a Talkatone customer, let us know about your experience in our review section.