Voice services: Other people making money on your mouth

Voice services are the next generation of technology evolving from person-to-person phone calls. Voice services can solve some of the big problems like having to press buttons or pay attention to what you're doing. That's good for people with vision problems and for road warriors. In the past, people associated automated voice services with the fictional computer of the Starship Enterprise, but these days we're able to use it for mobile Web services like GOOG-411 and 1-800-DIRECTIONS, which showed off their stuff in the last session.

First up was Lypp, which offers a mobile conference-calling platform. Lypp … Read more

The real scoop on Talkster's Skype contender

Talkster has been getting some buzz from fellow CTIA-goers. The new international dialing service is offering free global calls in exchange to listening to a few ads. The VoIP-based, phone-centered service feels like the perfect Skype (download) and Pincity mashup. It's free like Skype, and also relies on a VoIP backbone, but like Pincity, Talkster makes use of local numbers to initiate mobile and landline calls.

It sure sounds irresistible, and I've read a few glowing reviews, but in actuality it's a bit tricky. Talkster members enter their number and the number they're calling, and Talkster assigns a new, local number for callers on each end of the line. Say what?

If I want to call my sister in England, I enter both our phone numbers and receive a third number in my 415 area code. That's my permanent number for the phone number I just entered. My sister will get a number for me too. If I want to catch her at home, work, and on her cell phone for free, I'll need to enter each phone number and get three separate Talkster lines.

It wouldn't be so confusing if that were all, but of course it's not. Initiating a call isn't merely the result of dialing one of my Talkster-issued local numbers. There's an order to the calling system. Let's say I initiate the call to my darling sib using a Talkster phone number. I dial the appointed number in my area code and she picks up. But we can't talk yet. She first has to hang up while I stay on the line. My sister then quickly locates her local number, and while Talkster servers do some speedy math to connect our loose ends together, we both listen to an ad. Or that's the plan as soon as Talkster's ad deals are in place.… Read more