There's no doubt that VOIP is a good thing and will certainly get better. I and many others in the free world have been enjoying long conversations with each other, across the globe, for 'free', well, almost free - depending on the type of Internet provision you have. Certainly free when compared to land and mobile phone rates at least... Many of us (in Australia at least) have experienced the frustrating limitations at times with VOIP, bandwidth, drop out, mysterious disconnections... but over all VOIP has a promising future.
Skype (Windows, Mac, Linux and Pocket PC) has been the most popular free VOIP software in my network for over a year now, and many in the education world have taken it up as their first VOIP application. It calls out to landlines and mobiles for cheap, while computer to computer is free. Skype's the only one that can go on a PDA at the moment something to think about in terms of free wireless, mobile communications!... Innovators have been recording Skype sessions, producing very interesting audio of interviews and conversations on any number of topics, and very easily creating valuable learning resources. But successfully recording with Skype is a heart ache of an exercise. What should be very easy, can turn out to be very difficult! Why Skype does not yet have a record feature in its free version is beyond me.
Enter the Gizmo Project (Windows, Mac, Linux, and open standard). Another VOIP app that calls out to landlines and mobile for cheap while offering computer to computer for free, but it happens to have a very nice little record button in it!! Recording VOIP could not be easier, well maybe it could be... Gizmo records to the .wav format which is fine, but MP3 is what we need. Because Gizmo uses open standands it is apparently compatible with Google Talk which I'll get to in a bit. A big down side about Gizmo though is that it doesn't currently have an Instant Messaging feature. IM is pretty important, especially if for what ever reason your voice session drops out, you can revert to IM to work out the problem. Looking into the Gizmo forums reveals that a version with IM enabled is probably only moments away.
Now there's Google Talk (Windows only but open standard). What Google's plans are is a mystery (as always). But safe is to say that what ever Google touches seems to signal a revolution in some way or another. Why Google would release a VIOP/IM app when the market is clearly drenched with VOIP/IM options already is an interesting question/signal. Perhaps there is a clue in this article... Google Watch have no view on it yet...
Google Talk is pretty nice, especially if you are already a Gmail user as it synchs with Gmail and adds a few features like a pop up notification when a new email comes in.
So as you can see, each of these VOIP options do different things well. So I settle on the attitude that I may as well have them all and use the one most appropriate at the time. So if someone wants to contact me on Skype, no worries. If that person wants to record an interview with me then we just hope over to Gizmo, no probs. And if a revolution is around the corner with Google Talk, I'm ready. And while I'm ready, I have a nice little enhancement to my Gmail.
Its not a matter of which one do I use.. they all work in a very similar way, so may as well get them all.
Post note: Skype goes open platform
Skype, the pioneering Global Internet Communications Company, which offers free high-quality phone calls to anyone with an Internet connection, is preparing to mark its second anniversary next week by opening up its platform to anyone who wants to integrate Skype’s presence and instant messaging services into their website or application. By opening up Skype’s platform to the web, it will now be simple for anyone to connect to Skype’s fast growing member base, which has already passed more than 51 million people in just 2 years.
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