Obihai Technology’s OBi110, the $50 analog telephone adaptor released late last year that has become much sought after and hard to find after it added free outgoing and incoming Google Voice call support, has gotten a whole lot more powerful.
Firmware version 1.2 for the device, released today and available for free, allows a user to call and receive calls from any Google Chat user for free directly on a handheld phone attached to an OBi.
There are an estimated 200 million active users of Google’s free Gmail service, all of whom can easily add the company’s Chat IM services on their computer.
Because Google’s IM services are reached by the OBi using the XMPP protocol, requiring the installation of a free Google Voice account (available only within the US), which adds XMPP calling to the OBi, is required. Installing Google Voice, which currently offers completely free calling to any number in the US and Canada, on the OBi110 is relatively simple (How To: Use Google Voice and OBi for all your calls).
Upgrading an OBi110 to firmware version 1.2 also allows an OBi user to add Google Chat friends to his or her Circle of Trust, allowing a Chat user to make calls on the services installed on the OBi. This is very useful, for example, to Google Chat users outside the United States who do not have access to a Google Voice account. If the Google Chat user has a friend within the US who has installed Google Voice on an OBi, the overseas user can be added to the OBi’s “Circle of Trust,” giving him or her access to the Google Voice service.
The latest firmware release adds many new features to the OBi, including:
- Google Voice use on the OBi no longer is limited to those with an “@gmail.com” email address. The device can now be configured with any email address with access to Google’s voice and chat services;
- Indicators of received voice-mail messages on Google Voice now work, including message-waiting indicators on analog phones attached to an OBi and stutter tones when the handset is picked up;
- The ability to dial IP addresses and URLs via the OBi’s speed dialing feature.
For a complete list of new features, a full set of release notes can be found at http://www.obihai.com/release12.html.