i-Hoot: Make free international VoIP calls on your iPhone using $5 free calling credits [Video Review]
By Alok Saboo on July 2nd, 2010
VoIP service providers are aggressively targeting the smart phone users. Given the demographic profile of this segment, it is not surprising at all. Smart phone users have all the attributes to make marketers salivate – they are (usually) rich, educated, connected, influential, savvy, etc. The ease of development for smart phones and their wide reach makes it an attractive proposition.
Note: If you do not have an iPhone, don’t worry!! Read the trick at the bottom of the post to use i-Hoot.
Today, we review another mobile VoIP (mVoIP) offering targeted towards iPhone users: i-Hoot. i-Hoot is an international VoIP calling service from STI Prepaid that can be used from your iPhone. Let us review the app and i-Hoot offering.
Please note that this service is for US residents only (because you need to dial a US local access number to make calls).
i-HOOT Installation and Configuration
i-Hoot can be downloaded from the App store. The app itself is FREE. Once you download the app, you need to create an account for you. Enter your actual iPhone number as this is the number will be registered on their system and used to identify your calls.
After you have created with your account, you will be presented with a dial pad. Also, note that you get $5 in free international calling credits to test the services. So, you are all set to make calls at this point. To dial within the US, dial 1 + Area Code + Number; to make international calls, dial 011 + Country Code + Area Code + Number.
After you enter the number and press call, i-Hoot basically calls a USA toll free access number and then completes the call. So, the i-Hoot app will terminate and you will make a call to the local access number through your mobile carrier, i.e., you may use your local cell phone plan minutes while making calls.
In addition to making calls, the App provides other basic features like adding favorites, accessing your address book, recent calls, etc. Further, the App provides an interface to your i-Hoot Account. Mind you all the operations in your Account Management are web-based, so the app will direct you to STI Prepaid website, where the transaction can be completed.
The following video tutorial/review provides a complete walkthrough in greater details.
Review of i-Hoot
While the $5 in free calling credits is an attractive proposition, I am not too impressed with the app itself. The i-Hoot app just provides a front end to the STI calling card service. It does not utilize the features of such a powerful platform. In fact, I am not too sure why this has to be restricted to iPhone users. Any one should be able to dial the local access number and complete calls. The only thing the app does is to eliminate one step of manually dialing the destination number after dialing the access number, but there are other ways to use calling cards smartly so that you do not have to enter the number manually. i-Hoot does not support SIP and so cannot be used on any other SIP device (e.g., X-lite).
Even the calling card aspect of i-Hoot is not very compelling. Given that i-Hoot uses local minutes (toll free numbers are not free on cell phones), I did not find the calling rates very competitive.
|Country||Rate ($/min)||Country||Rate ($/min)||Country||Rate ($/min)|
In summary, I am not very excited about the overall value proposition of i-Hoot in its current format.
However, that does not stop us from using the $5 free calling credits to make free international VoIP calls. So go ahead and enjoy your free calls!!
For our non-iPhone users: If you do not have an iPhone, you can still use the $5 free calling credits, if you can have someone with an iPhone create an account for you (with your phone number). You can then dial the access number (1 800 313 1786) and the system will recognize your number and allow you to make calls. I have not used this trick, but I am fairly confident that this should work
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