CounterPath Launches VoIP App for iPhone, iPad & iPod Touch

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CounterPath Launches VoIP App for iPhone, iPad & iPod Touch

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CounterPath, one of the early pioneers of SIP softphones, just launched Bria iPhone Edition for Apple's iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch. Bria iPhone Edition works over both 3G and Wi-Fi networks and is the first SIP softphone on the iPhone that supports SRTP and TLS for security. I spoke with CounterPath about this news as well as got a review copy of the app to try on my iPhone.

I should mention I've used the free, open source Siphon on the iPhone and while it works OK, it doesn't support transfer or conferencing. Even worse it has no echo cancellation, so forget about using speakerphone mode and it doesn't support Bluetooth headsets. You also need a jailbroken iPhone to run the app, which isn't exactly enterprise-friendly. Thus, I've been awaiting a SIP softphone for the iPhone that has echo cancellation, transfer, and conferencing. That day has arrived with CounterPath's Bria iPhone Edition, which supports all of these features.

The Bria iPhone Edition is the latest CounterPath solution for mobile platforms and its first standalone mobile SIP application. Recently, CounterPath launched Linux, Mac and Windows versions of Bria, which as I stated helps to reduce the TCO by standardizing on a single SIP client across multiple platforms. Adding the iPhone to the mix only enhances that point.

It runs on iPhone 3.0+ and the new iOS (formerly iPhone 4.0). I really like how the new Bria iPhone Edition leverages the iPhone's native address book, but more importantly, it works with Bluetooth devices so you can make VoIP over 3G/WiFi calls while on the move and hands-free! It comes with G.711, but you have to pay an additional fee for G.729 codec support. Still, it's nice that they're offering G.729 as an option. It's also unique in that it supports one-touch voicemail access and message waiting indication (MWI) support with message counts. Another critical feature is STUN/ICE support for traversing NAT firewalls. The client supports automatic mode for detecting the best way of traversing a firewall, as well as manual. In addition to the Bria-branded version, CounterPath will also be developing customized white-label versions of Bria iPhone Edition for carriers, OEMs and enterprise customers worldwide through its professional services team.

"When you factor in the number of business professionals switching to the iPhone, and add in the iPod Touch user base and the 2 million iPads sold in that device's first two months, this adds up to an enormous opportunity for widespread global adoption of the Bria iPhone Edition," said Donovan Jones, CEO of CounterPath.

Bria iPhone Edition's key features include:
• Full SIP compliance
• Call quality that's superior to circuit-switched wireline and wireless voice, and based on the G.711, G.729 and GSM codecs.
• An intuitive user interface that provides one-touch access to voicemail, call history, speakerphone and other frequently used telephony features such as 4-digit dialing.
• Support for DTMF, which lets users enter numbers to access an auto attendant.
• Mute/Unmute
• Call Volume
• Jitter buffer
• Call Voicemail
• MWI counts
• Call forwarding
• Hold/Unhold
• Reject call
• Bluetooth support, enabling hands-free calling for convenience, as well as safety while driving.
• Multi-call management options, including the ability to switch between, merge and split calls, all in ways that are already familiar to iPhone users so they can start using these features immediately.
• Signaling and call encryption via TLS and SRTP, enabling enterprise-class security.
• Optional customized branding available for enterprises and telephony providers.

"The new Bria iPhone Edition is what a VoIP softphone should be for the Apple iOS family of devices," said Todd Carothers, Vice President of Product Management, CounterPath. "Our customers have asked us to provide a high-quality solution for the mobile device market, and the Bria iPhone Edition meets that challenge. As the leading SIP-based softphone for the desktop, we leveraged our experience to release a product that has been built with both the consumer and enterprise customer in mind."

"There are already more than 75 million iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad owners today who can potentially use our Bria iOS softphone," Carothers said. "This release is another milestone in bringing the Bria experience to a wider range of mobile devices. Within the next six months, we'll add versions offering even more features and support for additional mobile operating systems, further extending Bria's reach into the massively growing mobile market."

Unlike other SIP clients I've seen on the iPhone it supports two active calls at a time and you can merge the callers, put one on hold and swap, or conference them all. It also supports QoS packet marking for prioritizing voice packets. Another nice feature is the intuitive call logs which let you filter down.

I asked CounterPath about future features and they told me presence/IM/XMPP, call recording/playback, and the big one being multiple SIP account support were all on the roadmap. I also inquired about video chat support since the new iOS (formerly iPhone 4.0) has a front-facing camera (plus a rear one) and Apple announced FaceTime, as a video chat application. Apple also stated developers can access the camera via an SDK, so in theory CounterPath can add video chat. CounterPath's Todd Carothers, vice president of product management, told me they are focused on making Bria the best business voice app first and then will evaluate video in the future. He explained that all of Apple's FaceTime demos point towards a consumer aspect of video chat with no real business use, while CounterPath is focusing on the business side. Todd added that currently the iPhone isn't really a full-scale business telepresence application with videoconferencing and collaboration capabilities, although he said eventually it'll get there and they'll support it at that point.

Bria iPhone Edition is available now on the iTunes Store for an introductory price of $3.99, after which it'll cost $7.99.


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