maaii Review - New VoIP App Similar to Viber

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maaii Review - New VoIP App Similar to Viber

maaii pronounced as “mahy-ee” or “My-ee” is a free mobile VoIP application for iPhone and Android featuring Facebook integration and it comes bundled with 100 free minutes ($1.90). However, as part of their launch they're recharging each users balance back to $1.90 each day, thus giving each user 100 free VoIP calling minutes every day!

I decided to take the app for a test drive on my iPhone 4S. The maaii app will run in the background unless you force the app closed. Thus, you can receive inbound calls very quickly without waiting for the app to load. However, even if you have the app completely closed it supports notifications of chats and calls so you can press the notification and instantly launch the app to accept the call or respond to the chat message.

Registration was a snap. When you first launch the app you enter in your mobile phone number. Then you are sent a text message with a PIN to activate it. Similar to many mobile VoIP apps, including Viber, it uses this phone number for your outbound CallerID. So your contacts simply see this phone number when you make a VoIP call to them using the maaii service.

Facebook Integration
When you first launch you have the option of connecting to your Facebook account. maaii allows you to call your Facebook friends that are also using maaii. Your Facebook friends do not see your phone number and can call via your Facebook ID credentials instead of with your mobile number. All calls using maaii-to-maaii users are free. In addition to free phone calls to other maaii users you also can send free chat or instant messages. Users can also call & chat for free with their Facebook friends that are also using the maaii application.

From the dialer when you initiate a call it gives you the option of a maaili call (VoIP using your minutes) or a regular mobile call using your cellular network. I really liked the predictive dialer feature, which as you type it matches contacts in your phone's address book as seen here:

Also, maaii uses your device's phone book to see which of your friends are already using the application. If they are, you can see them instantly in your maaii contact list.

The chat feature worked as expected and it supports the iPhone's international emoji keyboard so you can use the built-in emoticons from the chat interface.

Call Quality and Latency
After the call connected over WiFi I did some subjective audio quality testing. The sound quality was excellent during my test calls. I'm sure this has a lot to do with the fact they've licensed SPIRIT's TeamSpirit Voice Engine Mobile and TeamSpirit Voice Engine PC SDKs to power it with HD audio codecs. I did measure the latency and noticed that the latency from the the iPhone side of the call could be as long as 1.05s and was usually around 1s, which is a little above the minimum 250ms (0.25s) that the human ear and mind can usually tolerate. From the remote phone side (landline) to the iPhone the latency was better measuring at 0.61s.
By comparison Vonage Mobile (iPhone VoIP app) averaged .42s from iPhone to landline and .32ms from landline to iPhone using VoIP over WiFi. Though Vonage Mobile had worse-base latencies of a whopping 3 seconds during my test calls while maaii never had latency that bad. During those test Vonage Mobile calls I had periods of choppy voice while maaii never had choppy voice.

Of course, Vonage is a well-known VoIP player and their network is utilized more, so it's to be expected they might have some peak periods of choppy voice when using their "free" mobile VoIP app. Vonage probably prioritizes traffic from their paying broadband VoIP customers over free mobile VoIP users. Though you can of course add your credit card info to Vonage Mobile and charge it with minutes and be a paying customer. In any event, I would say if you can deal with a little bit more latency, the maaii mobile VoIP app definitely sounded better more consistently.

The maaii app also supports calls over 3G data and during my test 3G VoIP calls the voice quality and latency was similar. From iPhone to landline was 1.08s (about 0.08s slower over 3G). From landline to iPhone was 0.64s, which is only a tiny bit slower than the 0.61s average I got for WiFi.

Here's what maaii has to say about their VoIP network:
At maaii, call quality is paramount. Our call quality is superior to other mobile VoIP applications and is significantly better than normal network calling. maaii supports calling to regular landline and mobile numbers worldwide.

maaii prides itself on GREAT call quality. Voice communications is part of our DNA and we have the global infrastructure and presence to serve our users anytime, anywhere.
One nice thing about maaii is there is no advertising. Maaii also offers opportunities for users to earn free credits to call non-maaii users by referring friends, and sharing maaii to Facebook etc. Lastly, I'll mention that you can put a caller on hold, and unlike some mobile VoIP apps, the remote caller will hear a tone indicating they are on hold. Some apps just play silence, so unless you warn the remote caller you are putting them on hold they might think they were disconnected.

If you make less than 100 minutes per day of calling, trying out this app is a no brainer! You can check out their rates here. It is available for download from the iTunes App Store. The Android maaii client is currently in closed beta and will be available shortly.

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