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Twilio adds Picture Messaging service for developers' apps

Twilio, a startup with a platform for developing cloud-based communications apps, today announced Picture Messaging, a feature that enables developers to build mobile apps that let users send images.

The service, which utilizes multimedia messaging system, or MMS, will initially allow end users to send pictures via short codes -- generally five-digit numbers accessed on mobile devices -- in the United States, and full phone numbers in Canada. Given that Twilio has been gradually expanding its platform globally, Picture Messaging could well expand to other countries in the future.

Today, of course, most wireless carriers allow users to send pictures … Read more

Skype beware, Viber flies past 200M users, lands on desktop

Add Viber to the list of insanely popular messaging services that have more than 200 million users.

The 2-year-old mobile messaging and VoIP service, developed by Viber Media, announced the new stat Tuesday, saying that it has 200 million members spread across 193 countries. The company also revealed Viber Desktop for free calling and messaging on PCs and Macs.

Viber, which specializes in mobile apps for iOS, Android, and most other operating systems, lets people use their mobile numbers in place of usernames and allows for free calls and multimedia messages over cellular or Wi-Fi connections. Viber Desktop carries the … Read more

3 Android apps for Wi-Fi calling with Google Voice

Google Voice allows you to give out one number to reach all of the phone numbers you're using at a given time. The ability to schedule "quiet time," and organize contacts into caller groups really make Google Voice a handy service. However, making Wi-Fi or data calls is a feature that has yet to make it to the app. That's where Android apps like Talkatone, GrooVeIP, and Phone for Google Voice and GTalk come into play.

Using one of these apps will allow you to sign in with your Google Voice number/account and dial calls … Read more

Mozilla, AT&T show WebRTC phone-Web communications link

BARCELONA, Spain--Mozilla, Ericsson, and AT&T announced today they're demonstrating technology to place Internet-based voice and video calls that bridge traditional telephone services and the Web.

The demonstration, at Mobile World Congress here, uses the nascent WebRTC (Web Real-Time Communications) standard to set up browser-based communications between different devices.

The "proof of concept" links a Web app with a person's existing phone number and "shows how consumers can easily take and receive video calls from their mobile phones or desktop browser using WebRTC or share their Web experiences with friends or family who might … Read more

Best video tech for Web chat? Showdown set for March

After a fractious false start last year, Web standards makers will reconvene in Orlando, Fla., this March to try to settle a debate about the best video technology for browser-based chatting.

The Web-based chat standard, which holds the potential to bring Skype-like audio and video communication services to the Web, is called WebRTC. The debate about it centers on how best to compress video: the widely used industry-standard H.264 codec, or Google's royalty-free, open-source VP8 codec?

The discussion took some surprising twists and turns late last year -- including Google's last-minute action to postpone discussion because of … Read more

Microsoft hopes demo will woo Web-based chat allies

Sometimes code speaks louder than words.

That's why Microsoft today published software demonstrating its own proposal for a Web standard enabling browser-based audio and video chat. In the demo, the CU-RTC-Web (Customizable, Ubiquitous Real-Time Communication) technology is used to set up a real-time voice communication link between Chrome on Mac and IE10 on Windows.

Microsoft has an uphill battle getting CU-RTC-Web to catch on: it showed up late to the game, well after the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) and Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) began work standardizing a different approach called WebRTC.

But Microsoft thinks its own proposal … Read more

Facebook dials up teens, cheapskates with free calling

Calling all teens and cheapskates, Facebook has updated its Messenger for iPhone application to allow people in the U.S. to make free voice calls to their social network friends.

Facebook members with Messenger for iPhone will find a "Free Call" button located on friends' contact info pages inside the application. A click of the button will dial up the contact in question over Wi-Fi or your phone's data connection.

Facebook started rolling out voice calls to its U.S. members today, according to The Verge. The voice-over-IP feature was first made available to Canadian users in … Read more

Plantronics headset and speaker add PC support

LAS VEGAS--Plantronics has long had Bluetooth-compatible headsets and speakers, but people with PCs have largely been left out of the party.

Until now. At CES this week, Plantronics is showing a wide array of its headphones and speakers, many of which focus exclusively on Bluetooth compatibility. But with the Voyager Legend UC and the Calisto 620, PC users wanting to listen to their favorite music on their mobile devices or wanting to make VoIP calls from their PCs can play along.

With its Voyager Legend UC headphones, Plantronics is now offering the ability to listen in on audio from mobile … Read more

MindMeld chimes in on your video conversations

LAS VEGAS--Here at CES, we were able to sneak a quick demo of MindMeld, a unique voice and video-calling app developed by Google Ventures-funded Expect Labs. The app supports up to eight parties at once, and based on what I saw, I've got high hopes for it.

At first glance, MindMeld might seem like just another Skype clone, but the reality is that this voice-and-video caller offers a layer of functionality that I haven't yet seen in a communications app. What sets it apart is its ability to "listen" to your conversations and add streams of … Read more

Get free Google Voice home-phone service with $40 adapter

The other day, in my post listing the best money-saving tips of 2012, I suggested ditching your landline in favor of a voice-over-IP option like MagicJack or Ooma.

But there's another option, one that lets you embrace the goodness that is Google Voice: Obihai's OBi100 VoIP phone adapter, which Amazon has for $39.24 shipped. It's been that price for a while now, but Google's recent announcement that free calling would continue through 2013 makes this worth another look.

The OBi100 works much like an Ooma or MagicJack Plus: You plug your existing cordless phone system … Read more