Apple’s Relationship to VoIP Gets Murkier

We reported last week on internet voice service provider Truphone’s mobile app that enables Voice over IP phone calling over WiFi using Apple’s iPod Touch. Wednesday, the company announced availability of Truphone Anywhere, an update to its iPhone app that lets iPhone users make VoIP calls “even if you’re not connected to WiFi or a 3G network.”

With TruPhone Anywhere you pay for a local connection – meaning your call is routed to the cellular network – before the rest of the call is connected using VoIP. Change-o, presto: cheap international calling is here.

Except that it’s been here for more than a year. San Francisco-based service provider RF.com has enabled the same type of calling with any VoIP provider (Skype me, anyone?), and even Asterisk, since shortly after the debut of the original iPhone.

Another mobile VoIP provider, JAJAH, had an app to enable VoIP-completed cellular calling ready for the AppStore launch this past July, but Apple rejected it “because the VoIP service is active over the cellular network, which as outlined in the iPhone SDK Agreement section 3.3.15 is prohibited: ‘If an Application requires or will have access to the cellular network, then additionally such Application: – May not have Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) functionality,” according to JAJAH spokesman Fredrick Hermann.

Perhaps Apple is less concerned with enforcing the SDK’s VoIP via cellular prohibition today; perhaps Truphone’s “Anywhere” functionality slipped through, or perhaps its app will be pulled from the AppStore tomorrow, or next week. As usual, Apple isn’t saying anything publicly.

Either way, VoIP over iPhone is here to stay.

Via GigaOM

  • Frederik Hermann

    Hi Lonnie,

    Thank you for the reference. VoIP calling on the iPhone is great as it saves you a lot of money on all your long-distance and especially international calls. Apple/AT&T prohibited VoIP over the cellular network in their SDK agreement though. As stated our app was ready for the launch of the App Store but was rejected because you were able to make VoIP calls even without any data connection (3G or WiFi).

    What I don’t understand is the fact that AT&T actually makes money on each and every minute of the local call with the services that don’t require WiFi/3G and doesn’t make a penny when people use the data channel via WiFi/3G!? Maybe they’ll figure that out someday and change their agreement accordingly.

    Anyhow, you can make your VoIP/international calls right now via our Web app at http://iphone.jajah.com at just 2-3 cents to pretty much anywhere in the world.

    You can also use http://tr.im/jajahdirect with any mobile or landline.

    Thanks again and regards,

    Frederik

  • Steve

    Skype has been offering a service similar to this for a little over a year on 3 Mobile in the UK, Hong Kong, and Australia.

    On most Symbian and MS phones you open skype, choose the number or contact you wish to dial and you are connected. Just before being connected Nokia’s flash “No active diverts + a phone number”, if you try calling that number you get a message saying “This is an outgoing line only”.

    From my understanding, my old flatmate tested the system, the phone sends a message over the 3G network saying “I’m about to call you from this number so when I do connect me to this contact xxxx/phone number”.

    Sadly when I get incoming Skype calls they just show up as “Skype Caller” which sucks.

    They even have a Skype Phone which only makes calls through your skype account but can be used anywhere within the Three service area:
    http://www.threeskypephone.com

    I’ve always hoped Skype would find a way around Apple’s no 3G voip policy. Given the call isn’t going through the 3G network, only the notification to the skype HQ that a call is coming in. Someday, maybe (Finger’s crossed)

  • Sandifop

    Fring has been there a month and I use it with Skype frequently. Maybe there are other grounds for rejections?

  • Sandifop

    Fring has been there a month and I use it with Skype frequently. Maybe there are other grounds for rejections?

About the author

Lonnie Lazar

Lonnie Lazar is a writer-musician-web designer-attorney. He writes about Apple for Cult of Mac and Mac|Life, and about VoIP and telecommunications for Voxilla. Follow Lonnie on Twitter @LonnieLazar, join the Cult of Mac on Facebook, and find Lonnie's photos on Flickr.

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