Since the invention of the first telephone, new innovations have then been developed to improve communication tools, quality and even costs. But what is a soft phone? How does it work and what are its features?
A soft phone is a piece of software that simulates the functionality of a phone on a computer: it makes phone calls to other computers or phones. It can also receive calls from other computers or phones.
As mentioned, soft phone is an application or software that is installed in a computer or a phone so that it can make and receive calls and messages, videos, and even documents. This software program is used for making telephone calls over the Internet using a general purpose computer, rather than using dedicated hardware. Like VoIP, this communication tool is only available when internet connection is found. A soft phone is usually used with a headset connected to the sound card of the PC, or with a USB phone.
Common features of soft phones are very functional and effective in business and personal usages. Some of them are the following:
Provides making and receiving high quality voice and video
Chat – send and receive instant messages
Set your presence—online, offline, busy, away, and invisible
Receive faxes and send them from any Windows application
Initiate and handle conference calls
Import and synchronize contacts from most mail-clients, social networks etc
Free PC-to-PC calls to any other same softphone user
Free landline calls to landline and mobile phones
Free voicemail service
Common Soft phone Services and Applications
As soft phone software become more and more popular and functional these days both in personal and business use, several soft phone services and application providers came to existence. The following are the most common VoIP soft phone services and application.
Skype. Skype is the most popular of all softphones, with hundreds of millions of subscribers worldwide. The Skype community is well developed on the web. Skype is also a VoIP service provider. PC to PC calls are free while PC to Phone calls are paid.
Lingo. Lingo surpasses Skype on giving the possibility of calling landline phones for free over 43 countries, and both landline and mobile phones for free in 17 countries.
Phone.com. Phone.com is an international VoIP service. It works in a manner similar to Skype, in that it has a softphone application installable on a computer, and a service which can be obtained online.
Vonage. Vonage is a free VoIP application for mobile phones, allowing voice calls, chat, instant message and SMS using your mobile phone, while cutting down the usual cost down to as low as twenty percent.
The above list is just a few of the hundreds of softphone softwares and applications available now in the web, free. There are more to come, and more new features coming to provide better communication around the world.
About the Author
Michelle Patterson has been working with telecom companies for over 20 years, and is excited about the new IP/VoIP/Cloud Telephony and other systems flooding the market. She is experimenting with some of the new technologies and is writing in blogs about her experiences.