There were more advances than true innovations in the VoIP world in 2009. That's because some of the most important developments had more to do with commercial and political maneuvers than with technical creativity. Still, such maneuvers often helped spread the benefits of VoIP as much as did technical innovation. And collectively, the advances brought some already-evident trends into clearer focus. A key such trend is the increasing integration of voice with other applications and services. Another is the intensifying interest in HD voice. A third is the growing interconnection of VoIP services, in part in response to the possibilities that end-to-end HD voice offers. With such trends as background, here, in no particular order, are our top 25 VoIP advances of 2009.
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A mobile phone's built-in address book has limited usefulness. For instance, it only allows users to call people whose numbers they've already entered – which means people they know well. Directory assistance, on the other hand, is about reaching people or establishments one knows almost nothing about. But there's no easy way to deal with the vast territory in between – to reach people one knows only casually, or to learn more about people and companies one knows almost nothing about. San Francisco-based CallSpark, which presented at the recent DEMO conference, is trying to fill that gap.
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One of the greatest benefits of IP phone technology is that it permits alternative methods of initiating voice connections. Click-to-call, for example, lets users launch phone calls from within Web applications, rather than having to pick up a phone, find the right number and then dial. A more complex example is seamless escalation – say, letting the user move from instant messaging to voice call, or from voice call to video chat for that matter, within the same application – with a click or key press or two. A new beta service from JAJAH brings a similar capability to Twitter users.
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