Telephone App for Mac Review

This App is Useful for Making Free and Cheap VolP Calls

Computer calling
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The name of the app cannot be more evocative. Telephone is an app that allows Mac users to make free and cheap VoIP calls through SIP (session initiation protocol). With such a name you would expect the app to be a leading voice call app for all major platforms. Curiously enough it is available for Mac users. The app has been able for quite some time and there is no present indication that it is going to create support for Android or iOS. 

One of the other curious things about it is the simplicity that characterizes it. There is no simpler interface for a VoIP app - you have a small, really small when we consider the 27-inch screen of a Mac, window that serves to initiate calls. It has a small window with your SIP address and a textbox for entering or selecting the number you want to call. Upon a call, another window just as small pops up on which you can manage the call. Call management is very basic and you have to use your mouse several times to do so. 

Setting Up

You can download the app from the Mac App Store. It is very light, just above 3 MB. It is worth mentioning here that it works only on a 64-bit processor, and on OS X10.9 or later. 

You cannot expect to install and use Telephone as you would do for any other VoIP app. It is not as easy and feature-rich as Skype. You don't have a username and password. You need to have a SIP account. It is just like an email address and when you make a call, it translates into a phone number. Therefore, you will be using Telephone app with a phone number. 

How to Get a SIP Address

Where do you obtain a SIP address? You can have one for free or can buy one from any number of SIP providers. You can also obtain a SIP address from your Internet Service Provider if they offer such a service. In fact, 64 Characters, the company behind Telephone, has a list of recommended SIP providers. When you register for an address, you decide on your username and password and follow the necessary steps, after which you should obtain your confirmed SIP address in your email. 

You can now configure your app with your SIP address. Enter Account Setup in the app and give your name, the domain of your SIP provider, your username, and password. This information is obtained when you register for a SIP account. The next step is to configure your SIP details. Select the Network option. Leave the Local SIP Port box empty so it selects a port by itself. Enter your STUN server as obtained from your SIP account. Port 10000 will do. The STUN server is the place where your address finds its public address or is converted into a phone number through which it is recognized in the outside world. It is, therefore, the point where your SIP provider brings you outside its network to make calls. There is no need to bother with the proxy information if you are using your home connection, but if you are behind a proxy (like for example, when you are at work on a corporate network) ask your network administrator for the necessary information. 

Telephone will now want to access your computer's contacts and will request permission. It is in your best interest to grant it because this allows it to identify callers and to make things easy for you when you have to all people. It is, in fact, an interesting feature among the very few that the app has. 

Set up your sound as well. The app's preferences have an option for that, where it allows you to select your input and output devices and the different tones you want to use with your app. You need to make sure that you actually have the proper hardware for audio communication. A good microphone and earphones or speakers are important. Alternatively, you can have a headset for more privacy. 

You can now test your connection. The simplest way to test whether anything is working is to call yourself. Use any phone to call the number you received along with your SIP address. In fact, this is the number you will be giving to people who want to call you. If everything is working fine, you should see a pop up on your Mac screen with the name of the caller. Click on the window to take the call. 

Now, test your app with an outgoing call. So as not to have to use any credit, test it with a toll-free number, or a test number from your SIP provider. Inquire with them or check on their site to obtain the free testing number. You can also simply call a +1 800 number, for example. Just type the number in the textbox and call. To call someone in your contact list, make sure you have enough credit, select your contact and call. 

Call Quality and Cost 

How good is the quality of the calls you make with the Telephone app? This will depend on a number of factors, which are mostly dependent on your SIP provider. What is in your control is the Internet connection you have. If you have broadband Internet, it should suffice. You can always verify whether your connection is suitable for VoIP calls by using bandwidth tests

What does it cost? You should not be considering the upfront cost of the app, which is very low. Your cost of using it consists mainly of the cost of your calls. This does not depend on the app. It is the price charged by your SIP provider for each minute of call you make, which often depends on the destination number you are calling. Check your provider's site for the rates. It is highly recommended to verify the price before making an international call as VoIP calls are not always cheaper. Some countries have very restrictive rates due to their policies regarding VoIP and their level of development. 

Be sure to buy credit and to have before initiating any call. You do so online with your SIP provider, and again, it does not depend on the app. 

App Features 

Telephone has only a handful of features. The most interesting one is that it allows you to make very cheap calls on your computer and to enjoy the benefits of using VoIP. Then there is the app's integration of your address book, which makes it work like it is part of Mac OS itself. The app is quite robust and neat, but being devoid of many features and of an imposing interface makes it free from lags and complications. You can mute calls, hold a call while being on another, transfer a call, and have a call wait while being on another. 

Finally, you want to be accessible all the time your computer is on. For this, you will have to make sure the app runs when your computer starts. In the options, check Open at Login.