Which Are the Best VOIP Software Applications for Your Computer?

Simply speaking, VOIP has become a means to make calls from your PCs to all kinds of devices. Here is a list of short reviews of the best of VOIP software programs out there.

6. Vonage

Vonage VOIP

 

In the large field of VOIP software, Vonage (also UK edition) is already quite a bit known. It is also one of the best services out there. The Vonage VOIP plans start at 9 dollars per month. The system has a box known as Vonage box that works with your broadband modem in order to bring unlimited calling worldwide.

There are a lot of included and add-on features for Vonage service, including call management, voicemail, simultaneous ringing on five phones, enhanced call forwarding, virtual numbers, Fax, extra lines, toll free numbers, etc.

5. Nextiva

nextiva

Nextiva

is a VOIP software program with business focus. It is feature-rich with quite a number of features listed here. You can also buy VOIP software phones from Nextiva at affordable prices. Nextiva has a number of plans at affordable prices.

Nextiva’s NextOS VOIP software makes it possible to conduct business easily. The company offers customer support features through its telephony service and that makes the VOIP program quite attractive to business customers out there.

4. eVoice

eVoice

eVoice

VOIP solution has been around for quite some time. This piece of VOIP software also has almost all the features provided by the others mentioned. They include toll free numbers; call management functions; voicemail; apps for Android, iOS, BlackBerry, etc.; multiple extensions; speed dial; texting; web conferencing; etc.

You can get US and Canada local numbers with eVoice VOIP program. The pricing starts at 9.95 USD per month. The excellent features and affordable price tag make eVoice an excellent VOIP software application.

3. PhonePower

PhonePower

 

Here is another piece of VOIP software that is excellent and feature-rich. PhonePower has these features—long distance (outgoing) to various countries including Canada, Puerto Rico, etc., toll free number, caller ID, voicemail, SMS, call return, call transfer, call blocking, email, virtual phone number, mobile app, etc.

The service also provides VOIP hardware that can be connected directly to your broadband modem.

PhonePower is hence a great all-in-all VOIP software solution.

2. Ring Central

 

Looking for another VOIP software application? Here’s Ring Central. This is a cloud-based business telephony system with these major features—toll free numbers, local numbers, caller ID control, Softphone (call management from the computer itself), unlimited texting, voicemail, MS Outlook integration, call management features (forwarding, answering, intercom, etc), cloud-based PBX, conferencing, internet FAX, etc.

The major features of this VOIP software program are listed here.

Ring Central plans start at $ 19.99 per month and are perfect for businesses. This makes Ring Central our second best VOIP software application.

1. Skype

Skype VOIP

Skype

, a Microsoft product, has been around for a long time before Microsoft acquired the service. It is not only available for all sorts of Windows PCs, but also Android, Apple iOS, Linux, OS X, Symbian, Windows Phone, etc. Windows Live Messenger is also merged with this VOIP software. By 2012, about 34 percent of the VOIP software market is in Skype.

The application has all sorts of features, including calls to landline and mobile phones, caller ID, SMS, Voicemail, chatting, Skype online number, video-calling, screen sharing, etc.

Skype also has a portable version that you can take anywhere with you.

Conclusion

 

You can see there are a huge number of VOIP software programs out there. Among them, it is difficult to spot the best. This list may help you in your search.

Gigabit Internet: How Close Are We to A Fiber-Connected World

Google Fiber high speed internet

It was . Google announced its plans to build an infrastructure that will provide ultra-high-speed broadband to a few lucky users in Kansas City, Kansas. This is Google Fiber, the ultra-fast Internet service from the search giant. With this development, one has to wonder if we are there yet?

In terms of the fastest speeds in broadband, the United States, despite being a giant in technology, is ranked nowhere. South Korea, Hong Kong, Japan, etc., have broad band connections with an average speed around 50 Mbps.

As reported by the NY Times in a recent article, South Korea already had plans to build nearly 1 Gbps speed into every home in the country; already, about 1500 homes in 5 cities have been connected to 1 Gbps Internet. We don’t know how far the program has progressed since then.

In the recent analysis, South Korea already has the fastest Internet speeds in the world, with Hong Kong competing close behind. That country’s Internet is easily 200 times faster than an average US household’s Internet connection. Moreover, the country does provide wireless Internet in the form of LTE, HSPA+, and WiBro, which is something that South Koreans developed in-house. WiBro provides peak download speeds of 128 Mbps and upload rate of 56 Mbps.

How is Google Fiber affecting our Internet speeds? Google is the search giant, more or less a software company, rather than a telecom company like Verizon or AT&T. Those telecom companies we have are already entrenched. They are actively building infrastructure to provide us with LTE and LTE Advanced, which is the next generation in wireless communication technologies.

In this world, Google is coming up with an old concept in a new fashion—wired Internet through fiber optics. Two cities already have this Internet service—Kansas City, Kansas and Kansas City, Missouri. The next stop for Fiber is the capital of Texas, Austin.

Which Cities Will Get Google Fiber?

On , Google announced its plan to build a Fiber broadband network that will provide “100 times the speed” most Americans have ever experienced. It then went into sort of a voting process, in which Google wanted to figure out which city was the most enthusiastic about signing up. Over 1,100 cities have been there in the initial phase and out of those cities, Kansas City, Kansas was the most enthusiastic, so they got Fiber first.

The website that Google set up to gather votes from people and governments is obsolete now. Here are the details of the responses they received over the months the voting process was going on.

Votes accumulated by Google Fiber

As the months progressed, the votes accumulated, and the kind of enthusiasm that Kansas City residents showed interested Google. Also, Google is able to develop the Fiber infrastructure at lower cost in Kansas City, and that is beneficial for the company. Other cities soon followed, as you can see here:

KCK (Kansas City, Kansas): selected on .
Kansas City, Missouri: selected in .
Olathe, Kansas: selected on .
Austin, Texas: selected on .
Provo, Utah:  .
North Kansas City, Missouri:  .

Pre-registration to Google Fiber ended on . People who pre-registered for the service can select their plan and get Fiber installed in their home.

What Is In Fiber?

Why don’t you visit the Fiber website itself at fiber.google.com to know in detail about the plans and what is included in them? In short, there are three plans, Gigabit+TV for 120 dollars per month that gives TV and the high speed Internet; Internet only for 70 dollars per month; and Free Internet at only the 300 dollar one time set-up fee (the speed in this case is up to 5 Mbps download and 1 Mbps upload). The network box used to provide Internet service is below. For TV, there is a separate Set Top box.

Google Fiber Network box

In any case, the Fiber plans are much better than the plans offered by your regular broadband providers. It takes us back to , when Google launched Gmail as an experimental service (yes, on the Fools’ day itself).

At that time, webmail was highly inconvenient, with Yahoo, Hotmail, and others offering between 2 and 8 MB of storage space. Yahoo even had a paid premium version offering up to 25 MB of storage. When Google announced a completely free, webmail with nearly a thousand times more storage as offered by others, everyone was forced to offer what its customers deserved—more storage and flexibility. Gmail, as expected, became a pioneer in webmail.

The same is expected from Fiber.

Fretting Giants in Broadband

AT&T logoDo you have any idea of the speeds offered by other major players in broadband in the United States?
AT&T has its fiber network being built across the country under the brand of U-Verse. Verizon has the fastest fiber network in the country under the FiOS brand. What is the speed offered by these services? AT&T U-Verse provides the maximum speed of 24 Mbps in download in its Max Turbo plan for 66 dollars per month. Verizon FiOS goes a little beyond that and provides about 29.4 Mbps download (average speed).

Verizon

Availability of Google Fiber has really rocked the world of these giants. As soon as the news of the availability of 1 Gbps Internet was available in Austin, AT&T also did the same thing. The company announced its plans to offer 1 Gbps Internet in Austin, Texas on April 9, 2013, right after Google’s announcement. It definitely looks like these broadband giants already have the equipment needed to provide high speed Internet service, but as long as a competitor doesn’t come along, they do not do that.

We are looking forward to seeing Verizon also offering high speed Internet.

The Future

With the fastest broadband technology widely available today, downloading a regular movie would take only a few minutes. A high-definition movie (1080p HD) on the other hand takes much more than that. But the future holds more than HD; we will be seeing 4K, UHD, and 8K content in the coming days, which go beyond a few GBs to a few TBs in size.

Even with the fastest Internet connection today, these movies will take days to download. Hence, it goes without saying how important it is for us to get even higher speeds. Google Fiber is a step toward that goal. If we get to see other companies also providing us with faster Internet connections, we may be able to use the Internet for everything.

The promise of fast Internet is entirely different. We will no longer have to download movies to watch them. Services like Netflix and YouTube will not lag on you. You will no longer have to sit waiting for anything.

In order to download a movie of size 4 GB, wait 34 seconds, while with 10 Mbps connection, the same movie needs about 57 minutes to download. In case of a 4K movie, the size may go up to 1000 GB (1 TB, mostly uncompressed), and 10 Mbps connection will require about 10 days to download it, while the Gigabit Internet will take only 2 hours to download that movie.

In Conclusion

We are looking forward to a future of extremely high data density. Downloading movies and other large files to create a personal storage is worthless. Instead, you should go for online services to watch movies directly. With the advent of high speed connections, voice over IP (VOIP) will soon replace your generic telephony system. Also, the storage required on your computer will be much less than that required today. Wait and watch out for more updates on Google Fiber, AT&T fiber network, and others.

What Is Apple iPhone’s Price, and Why Is It Costly?

Apple iPhone 5
Don’t you find it difficult to digest that iPhone is priced at around 700 dollars, although to manufacture that device, Apple has to spend only around 250 dollars? Apple does put hefty prices for its devices in the market, so hefty that it is not accessible to a huge part of the population. Why would a company that already has a huge hoard of cash want more from its devices? Also, how is it that none of the retailers out there is unable to give you any discount on iPhone or iPad or any such Apple products?

First of all, there is something called MSRP, Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price, which is the price suggested by the manufacturer, based on the manufacturing cost, required profits, investor suggestions, etc. It is also known as RRP (Recommended Retail Price). It is also the price that you pay to get your iPhone from Apple’s website. Currently, iPhone 5’s MSRP is 649 dollars for 16 GB, 749 for 32 GB, and 849 for 64 GB models.

If you look through the carriers of iPhone, AT&T, Verizon Wireless, and Sprint, you will find that they also sell the phone at about the MSRP. Here are they.

iPhone Version 16 GB 32 GB 64 GB
Unlocked phone 649 USD 749 USD 849 USD
AT&T 199 USD 299 USD 399 USD
Sprint 99.99 USD 199 USD 299 USD
Verizon 199 USD 299 USD 399 USD

 

For unlocked iPhone, the best price you can get is from the Apple store itself, linked above. Subsidized iPhones come with two year or one year plans depending on the carrier. There is no discount given by any carrier for these devices. Hence, the choice of the carrier is all that matters when you buy iPhone.

Why is it that iPhone is priced so high and there are no discounts? Apple maintains a unique pricing policy, by which it makes sure that its devices are sold closer to the MSRP than not. Imagine the general situation, in which the manufacturer sells its device to the retailer at a discounted price. In such cases, the retailer can make money by selling the product at a discount, competing against other retailers. For instance, if iPhone is sold to all retailers for 300 dollars apiece, then Best Buy could sell it at 400 dollars, while Amazon at 450 dollars. It all comes down to who gives the better discount, for the customers to buy the product, doesn’t it?

Apple on the other hand, does not embrace this policy. It is due a major reason you can see. For one thing, Apple’s stores are extremely profitable around the world. Here is the NBC news story detailing how Apple stores make 5600 dollars per square foot. Apple runs the number one retailer outfit in the United States. Apple makes about 18 billion in sales through 400 stores worldwide. This does not compare to Wal-Mart’s 470 billion in sales, but that retailer behemoth is entirely different in that it sells all sorts of items.

an Apple Store

 

The point is, Apple doesn’t need anybody’s support to sell its products. It can make money on its own through its stores—kind of like Apple’s style of doing everything in-house. Due to this exact reason, Apple does not sell its products to the retailers for low prices, and hence the retailers cannot in turn sell the products to us for low prices, unless there is a contract for two years, of course.

Wal-Mart, although it gives customers great discounts, is widely regarded to be evil for financial growth. Manufacturers selling products through Wal-Mart are forced to reduce the prices so much that some of them are forced to go out of business. A huge number of Wal-Mart’s products are imported from other countries like China, thus causing some American businesses lose revenue and employment opportunities in the same niche. When the prices are reduced so much, and Wal-Mart has strong hold over the price and sales, the manufacturers are either forced to put prices that invalidate the whole idea of profitability, or are forced to outsource its manufacturing process to low-wage countries, thus causing unemployment in the US.

By embracing a strong pricing strategy, Apple is not letting this happen to itself.

Another aspect of buying iPhone cheap through the carrier is that you should think about how much you need to pay every month as set by the contract. I went into these top iPhone carriers and looked at the various plan details.

iPhone 5 Carrier Plan Pricing

 

Here are the findings:

AT&T

AT&T iPhone 5

450 mins: 39.99 dollars per month
900 mins: 59.99 dollars per month
Unlimited: 69.99 dollars per month

Details:

AT&T price plan

 

Sprint

Sprint iPhone 5

Unlimited: 109.99 USD pm; with a lot of options including roaming, domestic long distance, push-to-talk, etc.
450 min: 79.99 USD
900 min: 99.99 USD

Sprint talk plan

 

Verizon

Verizon Wireless

Unlimited talk + various data packages (1GB-8GB): $ 50, 60, 70, 80, 90 (unlimited talk/txt + 1GB, 2GB, 4GB, 6GB, 8GB)
Plus monthly line access fee of 40 dollars with any package.

Also, the carriers do provide various upgrade options based on your existing account details.

In Conclusion

 

Apple iPhone 5 is an expensive phone, but it still is the most productive device in the market. It has about 800,000 different apps, and most of them have gone through Apple’s strict quality guidelines. Besides them, there are a huge number of accessories that are made specifically for iPhone. You can find accessories from All4Cellular, Mobile Karma, cases from Case123, etc. Also, iPhone is one of the most secure smartphones available.

These are some of the reasons why Apple can still command the hefty price tag on the device. If you own an iPhone, or have opinions, please share with us through the comments.

Jailbreaking Apple iPhone: Benefits & Disadvantages

jailbreaking Apple iPhoneYou may have come across great apps that you would love to install on your iPhone but you cannot since Apple hasn’t approved it. You have to jailbreak your iPhone before you can install such an app. Apple has stringent guidelines in place for including an app in its store. Getting Apple’s approval is a difficult process for app developers. Let’s look at why people jailbreak iPhones, iPads, and other Apple products.

In 2010 Apple went to court against jailbreaking iPhones. They argued that it was a direct violation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). However, the court ruled against it and made jailbreaking legal.

Unlocking vs. Jailbreaking

You have probably come across the term unlocking. It is the process of removing the control over the phone by telephone operator. If you unlock the iPhone, you will be able to have it work with any carrier out there. It is different from jailbreaking. When you jailbreak an iPhone, it is not unlocked, but in order to unlock a phone, you have to jailbreak it first.

To get an iPhone with contract, go to Best Buy or Apple directly. These phones are tied to a contract, and hence known as locked.

This might create confusion as to whether the unlocked phones you purchase are jailbroken already. The answer is no, they are not. The locked/unlocked iPhone you purchase are not jailbroken.

Why Jailbreak?

There are a few advantages of jailbreaking that we will look at now.

1. Installing Apps

Obviously the first and most important advantage of jailbreaking your iPhone is installing unapproved apps from different places. Check out Cydia, the unofficial Apple iPhone app store that constitutes the greatest inspiration for jailbreaking iPhones.

Here are certain appsthe main reason why people love to jailbreak their iPhones.

SBSettings: Would you like to disable Wi-Fi and 3G on your iPhone? SBSettings app is a free app that gives you system settings control over your smartphone. From the status bar, you can invoke SBSettings and change several settings on or off.

Shrink: Have you wanted to use more icons on your iPhone? With Shrink app, you can reduce the size of each icon, allowing you to incorporate more icons on its screen.

IntelliscreenX: With this app, you can add widgets and apps on your lock screen and on the notification center.

MyWi: This app turns your iPhone into a Wi-Fi hotspot, so that other systems in your home can access the Wi-Fi connection through your iPhone.

iFile: This app enhances the basic file access functions on iOS giving you the ability to view all types of files on your iPhone.

Besides these, there are many apps you can install on your phone in order to make it work much better.

2. FaceTime on 3G/4G

If your iPhone does not allow FaceTime communications (video-chatting) over your 3G/4G connection, it is reason enough to jailbreak it.

3. Unlocking

In order to use any mobile carrier, you have to first unlock your phone, and jailbreaking your iPhone is the first step to unlocking it. With this, you don’t have to be tied down to a single mobile operator.

4. It is Easy and Reversible

If you wonder if the process will kill your iPhone, there is no need to worry. In fact the latest tools to jailbreak iPhones do not cause issues and they are fast and easy to use. I have seen that the process is reversible as well. After you jailbreak your phone, if you install the latest firmware, it simply rewrites the system causing it to go back to normal.

The Process

In order to jailbreak an iPhone, you need certain things. You need the iPhone (obviously), your computer should run the latest version of Apple iTunes, and you need a jailbreaking program (such as JailBreakMe). JailBreakMe is a free software program that helps jailbreak an iPhone pretty fast. Also, you can find more information about jailbreaking at the BigBoss.

[Update: ]: One other option to go for is Evasion. All you need is five minutes and a computer with Windows or Mac, and the iOS device connected to it by USB. More information is in the website.

The Risks

Before you decide to jailbreak the iPhone, you should know the risks involved as well. It may not always be safe to do it, and you should be an expert to do it perfectly. Here are the main reasons why you should avoid it.

1. Security Issues

Do you know that the jailbreaking process inherently renders your phone to be used with any app developed for iPhone? This means, you no longer are tied to apps provided by the Apple app store. In app store, Apple has strict regulations in place and it does not allow apps that may cause security issues on your phone. When you download and install a third party app, you should be sure if it is safe or not. There are many insecure apps available to iPhone users.
iBrick

2. iBrick

If you jailbreak your iPhone, be sure to follow instructions very carefully. Otherwise you will instead create what is called an Apple iBrick. This is one of the most expensive kind of brick available! (I had a dream once about a billionaire building a home with iPhone bricks!)

3. Warranty

You should understand the terms and conditions of Apple’s limited warranty for iPhone. It states clearly in Apple’s policy that the procedures like jailbreaking voids the phone’s warranty. According to Apple:

Apple strongly cautions against installing any software that hacks the iOS. It is also important to note that unauthorized modification of the iOS is a violation of the iPhone end-user license agreement and because of this, Apple may deny service for an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch that has installed any unauthorized software.

However, in order to get warranty for your iPhone, you can approach the third party warranty provider, SquareTrade.

4. Battery & Data Usage

When you jailbreak an iPhone, it essentially comes out of all of its restrictions. You may be tempted to install some apps that take up battery on the phone. You may also incur higher data usage due to some of the extended capabilities of the phone (such as FaceTime communication over 4G and Wi-Fi tethering).

You should be sure about what you install and how you use the data plan on your phone to ensure minimum charges. When you go out of your data plan’s limit, the carrier usually charges much more than you expect, and that is why people are sometimes horrified by telephone bills.

Conclusion

Yes, you can jailbreak iPhones successfully. Apple may void your warranty and deny service due to you, and it may also cause security vulnerabilities. However, the major advantages of jailbreaking overshadow its disadvantages (also, it applies if you are an advanced user, of course). This is the reason why I recommend following instructions carefully in jailbreaking your iPhone.

Related:
Installing Incompatible Android Apps

[Image credit: AllthingsD, Apple]

Obtained via Jailbreaking Apple iPhone: Benefits & Disadvantages | Blue Bugle
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