Yesterday I received an email from one of the wizards of Gizmo5 who works for my friend and neighbor Michael Robertson (he lives a few minutes down the beach) about something I felt blows through the "Speed To Cool" and gets to "WOW" almost immediately.
To make it simple, the email invited me to a beta that would let me (or any Gizmo5 user) make calls out using Google Voice from a SIP device.
The subject line simply read:
Free US calling on any SIP device using Google Voice
And the note went on to further get my interest and excitement with:
Gizmo5 is working on a mashup service with Gizmo5 and Google Voice called GizmoVoice and we'd like your help testing it. Gizmo Voice is designed to let users take full advantage of the messaging and calling services of Google Voice combined with Gizmo5's support for any SIP device. The goal is to have ANY SIP device (wifi phone, ATA, SIP client, PBX node, etc) to be able to make and receive US calls without a monthly or per minute fee.
Now, since calls to USA destinations are free via Google Voice, what Gizmo5 has done is now made really free calling both placing and receiving a total reality.
1. Already you can terminate your Google Voice number on a Gizmo5 account. That means all you need is a SIP endpoint like a softphone such as Eyebeam, Bria or X-lite from Counterpath or any softphone provider, or a SIP device. This is possible because one of the options for where to receive your Google Voice calls is your Gizmo number.
2. With the new BETA that Gizmo is in trials with that same SIP connection that sends calls to Gizmo5 now initiates calls and routes them out via Google Voice. Think Skype but without the need to pay for anything. Google Voice gives you a free number and Gizmo provides the front end to make a free call.
This will work, not only with any SIP device or softphone, but in my testing I have it also working with my Gizmo5 softphone client on the Mac, and I was able to prove it out a few times by calling my mobile phone directly and the words GrandCentral which is my entry in the address book for my Google Voice number appeared.
Next, I then tested on a SIP based DID I keep for testing purposes from CallCentric. I dialed that number using the Gizmo5 client and watched my caller ID appear as my GoogleVoice number. I then called the same number via Counterpath's Eyebeam and the same result occurred. The GoogleVoice caller ID was presented.
Now this is where it really gets interesting on two fronts.
The iPhone and Skype
I'll start with Skype.
Receiving Skype Calls
Currently with Gizmo5's OpenSky service (for $5.00 a quarter of the year) you can forward your Skype calls to your Gizmo5 account. That means you can be reached over your SIP based handsets by both regular callers who dial your PSTN number and your SKYPE ID. From what I can tell, theoretically you could have your calls all end up in one place as those Skype callers will end up hopping from Skype to Gizmo to GoogleVoice and should not end up in an endless looks as the wizards at GoogleVoice already have installed call loop detection in order to replace your mobile phone's voice mail which was enabled way back in 2007. That means in theory the same can be done with Gizmo5 routed calls into GoogleVoice when the call loops back your Google Voice number. That means you have free voice mail, and free voice mail to email and free translation.
Placing Calls To Skype Users
That's takes care of the receiving of calls from Skype. Now let's talk about placing calls to Skype users from your GoogleVoice+Gizmo5 service. That's simple too, as OpenSky already makes it possible for a Skype name to be called from any SIP device by dialing a number. To do that you create an alias. That's a bit of work, but I would bet that auto-alias creation can't be far off for Gizmo5's team (or for that matter by GoogleVoice's.)
Now saving the best for last.
The Apple iPhone or iPod Touch.
I found an app that used to be called SipPhone (ironically the company name of Gizmo5) that comes out of Asia from a company called VNETCorp. Recently they changed the name of their softphone client to iSIP, and its a very handy download for the Apple iPhone or iPod touch. Inside the settings are pre-configured that are so damn simple that anyone who can enter their username and password can start to use it, if they have service from one of the pre-configured carriers, one of which is Gizmo5.
So my last test was simply this. On my Apple iPhone I loaded in my Gizmo settings and made a SIP call to my CallCentric supplied DID that rings inside my Counterpath supplied X-Lite softclient from my iPhone over WiFi. A few seconds later, it rang, displaying my Google Voice Caller ID. When I returned the call via the iSIP, the call went back to the Caller's ID not to Google Voice, as the Caller ID was properly being passed. This means when I'm returning the call by dialing the number, the receiving party sees my Google Voice number, while I've seen their number coming in via Caller ID or heard their name via the Google Voice call screener.
Now you know why I said "WOW!"
To be transparent, back in 2007 I helped broker the relationship between GrandCentral and Gizmo. It was a simple SIP peering arrangement because all parties involved knew that standards based calling would be game changing. If receiving calls for free on Gizmo via GrandCentral was the first inning. Making calls for FREE via the combined efforts is the second inning. The iPhone app integration is the top of the third inning and what's next will be the bottom of the third. Oh, for what it's worth, the home field advantage remains up for grabs, but one things for sure, regardless of which side you're rooting for, this time, the fans will be winning.