Just Call Me - Conference Call 3.0

I have seen the future of Conference Calling, and it's "Just Call Me."

Just Call Me was created by Voxygen, the UK telecom product design company started by Dean Elwood (VoIP User, Truphone, etc.) Voxygen started up a few years back with the premise of approaching telephony as "Voice as a Service", the new Just Call Me service is currently only available for O2 users in the UK, but given Voxygen's relationships with Telefonica and other mobile carriers I suspect that won't be the case for long. (To learn more about Voxygen check out the profile from back in January by pal Martin Geddes.)

The quick start guide and video on the O2 web page is a great place to start as it makes it easy to understand how the service works, which is simplicity itself:-

  1. The organizer schedules the call and invites participants

  2. At the appointed time the participants just dial the organizers mobile number to join the call.

No PINs, no dial-in codes.

For those who are asked to join but didn't receive an email invite, they just call the organizers mobile number and the organizer allows them to enter. What's really cool though is the ability for the organizer to direct non call participants to voicemail. This "in call" and in session whisper feature allows the right non-invitees to join the call, while keeping the organizer squarely in control. The host just dials “321” from their mobile to join. If they need to dial in from a landline (deskphone for example) there’s an admin code enabling that.

Available now in the UK, the elegance and simplicity of the service has me wanting to use the service. Beyond the simplicity of Just Call Me, it also overcomes the two biggest hassles I have found with conference calls of late. First, is simply getting people to be able to log on via apps. The second is the disruption that’s caused by echo and delay that third party services seem to arise on IP calls due to a multitude of network, software and hardware.

What Voxygen has done, by integrating the service within the mobile operator's network (O2), helps avoid much of that, as the service has the backbone reliability that carriers and operators can provide. This level of quality can only be achieved because mobile operators have interoperability standards they must follow for calls to pass between networks. Apply that approach  to conference calling, and you have a far better base to build on top of. That's something that has been missing from all the new over the top types.

 

While services like GoToMeeting, WebEx, Calliflower and UberConference run over the top (OTT), what Voxygen has done is "Through the Telco" or "TTT" as Elwood calls it. It's an approach whose time has come, and for constant conference call participants, something that has been needed for a long time.


Twilio Goes Video, Puts Pressure On TokBox Now

For the past two years, when it came to WebRTC video many early developers would look at TokBox and use their platform. Today, the heavyweight of heavyweights in developer programs, Twilio fired a broad shot across the bow and entered the fray. This is big news for WebRTC because Twilio has the key part of the equation. The developers. And that means a lot more than what they have in their stack. Their entry also begs the question how Genband will react as they have been tossing Kandy around for months but with hardly any news about deployments.

Tsahi also raises the same concern I have towards TokBox, but overlooks a key missing piece of the equation. That is the lack of Internet Explorer or Safari compatibility that plagues both TokBox and now will impact Twilio. Both would be well served by working with client, Temasys, whose commercial plug-in brings IE and Safari to WebRTC players. 

So for now, devs working with either Twilio or TokBox will still have to go to Temasys directly to license the functionality.

If I was a developer working on IoT products, apps for iOS or Android or someone looking to appeal to the millennial generation, I'd run, not walk, to Twilio's dev program as this will speed up the adoption of WebRTC even without Microsoft being friendly today. That day will come. Just like Christmas does.

 


Messenger Adding WebRTC Is Big News

BlogGeek.Me has the skinny on Facebook Messenger using WebRTC, and it is big news.

Messenger adding WebRTC is big news because it comes at a time when Skype has taken their eye off the ball. Skype is now chasing the business crowd, and in turn, not doing much to keep the consumer market loyal. And, the consumer market is what Facebook owns.


The addition of real-time communications based voice and video by Facebook, something they have been trying to offer for many years going back to the earliest days of their apps, keeps people inside the universe of Messenger. Given the volume of users who already take advantage of it as an alternative to text messaging,  between Messenger and WhatsApp, Facebook addition of voice strikes a blow against Skype, just as Skype hit the operators.


The deployment also comes at a time when telco/mobile operator voice minutes are declining. Mobile operators are equally under attack on the SMS front, with the assault coming from many of the alternatives that the worldwide youth market uses. And, because the youth market is app first, carrier agnostic, and not operator loyal the long term revenues of operators are at risk.


This risk is there because, in essence, the Millennials care less about the operator and are patently brand disloyal from the start. They also tend to be pre-paid subscribers because they have not yet established credit. Being pre-paid allows them to jump between operators when offered a better deal. They also prefer more about what they communicate than over whose network they are on and will switch in a minute if it suits them. They aren’t even cord cutters for they didn’t even have the cord to cut.


What this means is looking longer term is that Facebook and Messenger will already have the people using their service even before they have a mobile phone because tablets connected to Wi-Fi will be the kids first connection.


By adding WebRTC based voice and video, data channel capabilities and a p2p core just like Skype of old, inside a Facebook tied service you have the makings of an even bigger threat to the telcos that even Skype.

 

And, that's why it's big. BIG..BIG NEWS.


Tame That Inbox (Until Something Better Comes Along)

Let's face it, like many, I have a love/hate relationship with email. While I'm doing as much as I can to move things over SLACK, Skype and Yammer, PushBullet, plus iMessage,  Facebook Messenger and Twitter there's still a lot of dependency on email no matter how much we all try to get off of it.

Thankfully, I'm starting to become much less "stuck" in my INBOX(es) and today got around to purging two of them. It all started with Mailstrom and SaneBox, a killer combination that are both metrics based. Mailstrom which I've been using since it was in Beta gives me lots of insight as to what's going on in my Inbox and has some very nifty and powerful unsubscribe features. Sanebox though has been for me, a lifesaver. I liked it so much I've added it to my personal email as well as my primary business GMAIL account. 

What SaneBox does is look at which emails I reply to and who I send email to, and then prioritizes the Inbox with only what it feels is important, moving the rest of the mail to SaneLater, a way of keeping my attention on the work that needs to be done, not getting distracted by newsletters, credit card charge alerts, renewals of services that are happening or distracting "sales" offers.

In essence, while Mailstrom lets me analyze the inbox on a very granular basis, and lets me know how much mail came in and went out the day before, SaneBox lets me focus on getting things done.

After two months of SaneBox I'm finding I'm out of the Inbox and into my apps more which led to my deciding to clean up both my personal and business email Inbox this morning. Three hours later I'm down to under 5 unread emails between the two. I've also unsubscribed from a bunch of lists that I either no longer need to be on, or never signed up for. I also deleted a bunch of emails that simply don't matter.

For me, until something better comes along, SaneBox and Mailstrom are my Inbox heroes.


Telzio Adds More To Their Offer

Telzio, the all cloud-based telco, which I first wrote about in September 2013, continues to make progress with their platform and the rich array of services that they offer. 

The Los Angeles based company has added the same leading and wanted features that customers of RingCentral, Vonage and 8x8 clamor for and make use of regularly. They have accomplished all this by busily executing on the technology work to get on par with the three publicly traded companies' feature-wise. At the same time, Telzio has also been continuing to propel their insanely low pricing model where they only charge per phone number and usage.

Co-founder Peter Schroder told me that one key reason they've been able to offer their very different pricing model, when compared to competitors, is how much their customers love them. Given Telzio growth, and really low churn over the past 18 months, the company is cracking the code on what drives customer loyalty.  From their customer metrics and analytics, they have been able to determine what their customers' want to be paying for, and deliver that to them, at lower costs, and with lower overhead.

They are also adding on to their Plivo powered platform by building out additional features and functionality using Kamailio and Asterisk. They will use Bandwidth.com, which is already used by the likes of GoogleVoice, while increasing their International termination through the addition of more carrier service providers. Bandwidth will also provide Telzio with local numbers in the USA, while they will work with Voxbone on their International numbers.

Schoder admitted that the company spent the better part of the past year working on making the user interface really simple to navigate and easy to use. Adding, that with and the January release of a mobile app behind them Telzio will be adding WebRTC capabilities later this year. 

If you're looking for an alternative and cost effective cloud telephony provider, Telzio may just be what you want to check out.