Voxeet, conference calling for iOS with some visual twists
The just-released iOS version of Voxeet is a free conference calling app, running over VoIP and interoperating with the company's Windows and Android apps. Voxeet is designed to handle conference calls in a unique way with excellent audio and some fun visual enhancements.
Problem No. 1 on most conference calls is figuring out who's speaking. With Voxeet, you get an avatar with each participant on screen, (either generic or a picture from your contacts) and you see a little level meter bobbing up and down so it is obvious who is talking. You can arrange participants around a virtual table, and if you are wearing stereo headphones, the person on the left side of the screen will be audible in your left ear. That's a clever and useful idea.
Calls are done over VoIP, but you can transfer a call to a regular phone or your iPhone. You can import contacts easily, and if you get a call you are notified with an alert. The app works over WiFi, 3G and 4G networks, and if you are so equipped, over LTE. The app is optimized for the new iPhone 5 and iOS 6, and requires iOS 5 or later.
I tried a call, and the audio quality was first rate, as good as I've heard. I wasn't in a noisy environment, but the app does reduce background noise and echo. The developers recommend a headset, and I did try it with the new Apple earbuds that come with the iPhone 5. The sound was exemplary, but I also had good audio listening to another party using the speaker phone on the iPhone 5.
The app supports up to eight people on the conference call. With three people, including my colleague Mike Rose from TUAW, and a friend in Nevada, we could arrange the participants virtually around the screen. I had Mike on the right, and his audio originated on the right. My friend was on the left, and his audio came from the left. That's terrific for trying to figure out who is talking. Mike discovered that if he moved my avatar further away from his, my voice got softer and had more echo. Closer in, I sounded louder -- adding to the spatial illusion of the virtual conference room.
There is a PC version of the app; it's not available for the Mac yet, but I am assured a Mac version is in the pipeline. That's where the transfer feature will be great. Start a conference call on your laptop or desktop computer, then if you have to leave, transfer to your iPhone.
Voxeet seemed very stable. While it can be scaled up for the iPad, I'd like to see a specific version or a universal app.
Voxeet is a terrific little conference calling app with a few distinct advantages over much of what is out there. Later the app will add premium services like unlimited conference participants and encryption. This version will remain free with the existing features.
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