Reliable VoIP on iPhone 1.4

April 16th, 2008 § 3 comments

While taking a break from homework this evening, I came across a post on Engadget, declaring the availability of fring for iPhone. This is quite remarkable for a number of reasons:

First, fring is a commercial outfit, who have apparently developed a non-sanctioned application for iPhone for profit-making purposes. They are not the first organization to do so; Navizon springs to mind. That functionality eventually got merged into the official iPhone 1.4 firmware, rendering the application somewhat redundant. On their website, they note that in order to use fring on iPhone, one has to ‘open’ their device first (notice the reluctance to use the word ‘hack’ or even ‘jailbreak’). They instruct prospective users to “refer to the Internet” for instructions.

Second, the application drastically goes against Apple’s forthcoming policy on VoIP applications that will be available from the iTunes App Store: in order to protect the Apple/AT&T walled garden, VoIP applications will be specifically barred from distribution in the Store.

Third, it works! And it appears to be entirely carrier-agnostic, allowing users to even use a SIP provider of their choice if they have one. This is immensely liberating for those who have access to wholesale VoIP and could stand a break on their cellphone bill. All you need is an Asterisk server and a connection to the Internet, and you’re basically set to make as many free (or so low-cost they might as well be free) calls as you like.

Fourth, this application could only have been written using the hacker-provided iPhone toolchain, or some as-yet-unknown hack to the “Official” SDK released earlier this year. For a commercial entity to put so much stock in a dubiously-legal product that came direct from the Internet underground is a bold move, to say the least.

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