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iPhone Gets VoIP Injection From Fring

A London startup has created an application that brings mobile VoIP over Wi-Fi to the Apple iPhone.

Wi-Fi VoIP

According to an announcement from Fring, a maker of a VoIP client that can integrate several VoIP networks such as Skype, the client is now available for the iPhone. The mobile VoIP application has been made publicly available and will let users talk, chat and interact with other Fring users; a community the software maker has dubbed "Fringsters," and all other online communities using the iPhone's Wi-Fi connection.

The pre-release version was developed in conjunction with Israel-based Holon Institute of Technology. The early version will give iPhone users a chance to dabble with the VoIP application and also enable Fring to get the low down on the user experience through feedback. That feedback will be used to influence future research and development for the full release version, which is scheduled for launch later this year.

In the announcement, Fring said the pre-release version gives iPhone users the ability to take their Fring contacts and buddies from their other favorite online communities anywhere they go with their iPhone. Users can also make free and low cost mobile calls over Wi-Fi and use IM-style live chat with online contacts on the iPhone, just like from their PCs or other internet-enabled devices.

To use Fring on the Apple iPhone, users need an open iPhone with the Installer and Wi-Fi access.

When a user logs in, Fring creates a single, integrated contact list combining contacts from a user's selected Internet communities, such as Skype, MSN, Google Talk, ICQ, Twitter, Yahoo and AIM. Fring also offers real-time presence indicators that show whether contacts are online, away, offline, on a call, using their mobile device or working on the PC.

Fring was launched in February of 2007 and started out as a mobile client for just Skype, but later rounded its offering with the other communities. The VoIP client is optimized for the 3G wireless network. Downloading and using Fring is free and requires no subscription costs. Users are only responsible for the data plan they use from their carrier. Along with the recent addition of the iPhone, Fring operates on all Nokia Symbian Series 60 devices, Sony Ericsson UIQ Smartphones and Windows Mobile devices.

Fring's quest for feedback from the iPhone's loyal masses is already paying off. On the vendor's blog, dozens of users have praised the application, but are also vocally asking for improvements and offering suggestions.

One commenter wrote: "Finally. [I've] been using this on my Nokia, now finally on the iPhone. Thanks a lot but it takes a very long time to log on, also it would be much nicer if you could see your contacts by service." That commenter also recommended including an options tab to customize the settings and enabling Skype to run on GPRS/EDGE wireless networks.

Another user was a bit more critical.

"I've been reading the hype today about the first iPhone VoIP app What we have is a Fring beta on an unsupported platform that works and still needs work," the user wrote. "I'm impressed and not impressed at the same time. As a proof of concept it's pretty neat, although take care not to gloss over the details for that is what makes one of these apps really work. My intent here is to be both balanced and provide some input. It's also been a long time since there has been much more than a yawn in the VoIP arena."

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