Smartphone Apps Make Calls Through OBi Devices

Dozens of mobile applications for smartphones allow you to make calls from a mobile phone through a VoIP service provider. Some iPhone and Android apps can be configured to make calls through your own IP-capable PBX.

OBiOn on the iPhone

Obihai Technology's OBiOn 1.1 on the iPhone.

But, there has been no way of making a smartphone call directly through a typical consumer-level VoIP analog telephone adaptor.

Until now.

A recent update of Obihai Technology’s smartphone apps gives the company’s hot OBi110 desktop analog telephone adaptor the power to handle calls dialed on an iPhone or Android-based smartphone, turning the $50 device into an easy-to-configure behind-the-scene virtual mobile carrier.

A smaller version of the adaptor to be released this month, OBi100 (expected to cost around $44), share the capability.

Version 1.1 of Obihai’s mobile OBiOn app has been available on the Android market since last week. OBiOn for the iPhone/iPod Touch/iPad became available on Apple’s App Store Tuesday night.

A user, after installing the app and signing in, can dial a landline or mobile phone number directly on the app’s full screen dial pad. Using a data connection available to the smartphone, the call is actually bridged to the OBi hardware associated with the user’s account and connected via the OBi’s on-board VoIP services or the analog line port wired to the user’s telephone company.

OBiOn on Android

OBiOn 1.1 on Android

Every OBi owner who registers a device through Obihai’s user portal at www.obitalk.com also receives a free softphone account, with a unique 9-digit OBi number. A new ObiTalk.com device configuration setting for the softphone allows the user to select an OBi Voice Gateway device from a pull-down menu listing the user’s own OBi, as well as other OBis associated to the “Circles of Trust” the user has joined. Calls made through the OBiOn smartphone app are completed through the selected gateway’s primary calling service.

Google has released apps for its service on both the iPhone and Android platforms, the Google apps don’t place a direct call using the smartphone’s data connectivity, but instead place a mobile phone call (utilizing the user’s cellular minutes) to Google Voice servers to complete the call.

The OBiOn apps overcome this limitation. Call from the apps travel from the smartphone over WiFi, 3G or 4G to the gateway OBi, which then takes over and directs the call over its configured primary service. The service can be Google Voice or a SIP-based service like VoicePulse or CallCentric (Voxilla referral link). To the recipient, the call appears as coming directly from the phone number attached to the OBi.

The OBi110 has been in very short supply since January, when Obihai gave the device the ability to make and receive Google Voice calls without the need of as computer (“Cisco Killer OBi110 Puts Google Voice on Any Phone“). Strong demand has created a scalper market for the device, with some unauthorized resellers offering the OBi110 at double its regular price on Amazon, eBay and other web-based sales sites.

Now, with the ability to make a direct VoIP call from an Internet connected smartphone app to any number via the OBi device, Obihai is anticipating even brisker sales.

An Obihai spokesman says the device’s strong early sales “convinced us to rapidly ramp up manufacturing.”

The company should have new stock of the OBi110 through Amazon.com (Voxilla Amazon store link) at the base $50 price this week, he said, and the device will be “more consistently available moving forward.”

(Note: If the price for the OBi110 at the Voxilla Amazon.com affiliate store is more than $50, it is being offered by a non-authorized reseller with artificially inflated prices).

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