For iPhone users the biggest news in the iPhone client application arena has been the recent explosion in the field of iPhone clients that enable voice over Internet protocol (VoIP) functionality. With the announcement by Skype that it was ready to put its iPhone client in wide distribution and Apple’s decision to begin supporting third party development of SIP client apps, iPhone and iTouch users have joined the burgeoning legion of users who are able to take advantage of the Internet for telephony services. There are now a number of iPhone client apps that are geared toward use of the devices for telephone conversation. Skype is just one of the more prominent of the iPhone clients designed for this purpose. There are many others and each iPhone client has its own unique features and advantages and disadvantages. Skype and other iPhone clients for telephony are now even available for download directly from the Apple store as well as from third party websites.
The reason that iPhone clients that allow for telephone use have been so eagerly awaited is easy to understand. When you use VoIP to transmit telephone conversations you avoid the use of costly cellular talk time minutes as well as long distance charges—together saving a significant amount of money. Of course, that’s the same reason AT&T worked so hard to get Apple to discourage iPhone users from having access to iPhone clients that would enable them use the Internet for phone calls and slowed development of iPhone clients for SIP and VoIP.
The compromise solution put forth by Apple allows users access to VoIP iPhone clients and somewhat protects AT&T’s market share is to allow SIP iPhone clients to use VoIP via wireless networks (wi-fi). While users would much prefer to be able to use cellular networks for telephony, wi-fi does work and many users are taking advantage of this. To use SIP and VoIP you just need the iPhone client application and there are many of these already currently available.
iPhone client apps for Internet telephone communications are just one small piece of the iPhone client app market. There are all sorts of applications that provide for all sorts of functionality and productivity. We will continue to see the development of client apps as demand will continue to increase. When we consider that most current apps are geared toward 3G networks we can only imagine what the options will be when 4G arrives.