From nearly the very beginning, VoIP on Apple’s iPod Touch has represented something of a holy grail. Interest in the concept seems to have picked up recently, with several illuminati of the VoIP-focused media having weighed in on the topic in just the past week.
Things got started last week with a post by VoIP Watch‘s Andy Abramson, who waxed ecstatic over the possibilities intimated by rumored specs for the next version of Apple’s touchscreen iPod.
Venerable VoIP authority and former Nokia wonk, Phoneboy chimed in first, as did Michael Graves on SOHO VoIP over the weekend – with both of them coming down not quite as excited as Abrambson on the matter, though everyone seems to recognize the disruptive potential of being able to make and receive voice communications on a device that is not actually a telephone.
Despite the very exciting creative tools the addition of a built-in microphone and a camera would give to iPod Touch users, two significant hurdles to making the device a practical telephony device will still remain, and until these limitations are overcome, VoIP on the iPod Touch will be something confined to hobbyists and extreme geeks.
First and foremost, unless someone can figure out a way to hand off in-progress call signals between WiFi networks and / or between WiFi and 3G networks, the best anyone will ever be able to do with VoIP over WiFi is create a reasonably convenient stationary zone within a 100 or 200 foot radius to make or receive telephone calls.
And while applications such as Skype and Truphone have already done a reasonably good job of creating iPhone apps that do just that for the purpose of making VoIP calls, receiving them is another problem altogether.
Of course, the main impediment to such functionality is Apple’s prohibition against applications running in the background on iPhone and iPod Touch – if your VoIP client isn’t open and running on your device it has no way of knowing someone is trying to reach you. Or, at least it had no way of letting you know someone is trying to reach you – until recently.
That limitation began to break down with Apple’s implementation of its 3.0 mobile operating software last month, and now the firmware’s push notification capability has begun to raise all kinds of interesting possibilities.
Developers at GOGII, makers of a free text messaging app for iPhone and iPod Touch recently released a new version of their app featuring push notification, something that could conceivably work in concert with apps such as Skype and Truphone to make real-time VoIP call reception a reality.
This all remains speculative at this point, of course, especially as it pertains to the iPod Touch, since the rumored upgrades have not yet been confirmed by Apple.
The bottom line seems clear, however: the day is coming when you won’t be required to sign a two-year service contract with any iteration of a legacy telephone carrier in order to be in real-time contact with anyone in the world.
And while that may seem exciting, indeed, to you, Virginia, don’t think for a minute that advertisers and spambots aren’t salivating over the possibilities even more.