Truphone released the newest version of their VoIP app for Android late last week and I’ve been using it almost continuously since then, making and receiving calls, doing various sound tests, and seeing how the core functionality works. So far, the tests have proven to be quite successful and encouraging.
The new app is a completely revamped version of “the artist formerly known as Tru VoIP App” and removes some features, namely Instant Messaging and text messaging. While the loss of these features may initially turn off a number of users, Truphone assures that this new app is just the beginning of what they have planned and more features will follow — so here’s hoping the text messaging feature in particular will come back sooner rather than later.
The new app includes a completely redesigned UI, giving it a look and feel similar to that of Windows Phone 7 and 7.5, with five tiles (and clearly room for a sixth) spelling out the app’s current features. These five tiles — labeled Profile, Dialer, History, Contacts, and Voicemail — place all emphasis on phone calls, the core functionality of this new application.
My first calls were clear on my end, though the person I called said there was some interference on one call that made it sound like I was under water for a time. Still, most of the calls I placed worked quite well. Out of 10 phone calls received, I experienced one force close on my device. Restarting the device and trying the same test again seemed to improve the experience, though I still noticed some lag on a few tries when placing phone calls. The force close occurred again when attempting to answer a call coming in, which sent the caller spiraling to voicemail. Otherwise, the application opened, closed, and placed and received calls quite well.
Speaking of voicemail, the new addition of the visual voicemail feature is indeed a welcome one. Unfortunately, the feature was not working at all in my tests. Five calls were placed to my Truphone App account by another Truphone App account holder, and while the voicemail feature of the app did not notify me that there was a new voicemail, I did receive an e-mail alerting me of the new voicemail message. Still, the fact that the voicemail portion of the app insisted that there were not any voicemail messages in my inbox despite there being five voicemails left (all five of which sent e-mail notifications) means there is still some work to be done at the Truphone offices.
Thankfully, the app brings back one of the lacking features of the former Tru VoIP app I reviewed earlier this year: the Tru Contacts tab. The Tru Contacts tab appears as one of three tabs in the Contacts tile, the other two being Address Book and Favourites. With the Tru Contacts tab back in place on the Android platform, free Truphone to Truphone calls are now possible between all users on Android, iPhone, iPod touch, and desktop computers not running the new Windows RT. BlackBerry 10 will also be receiving this functionality when it’s released next year.
To sum up, if you’re looking for a great alternative to VoIP applications like Skype and Viber and you don’t mind being left without the text messaging and in-app visual voicemail features for the time being, you’d be hardpressed to find as good an alternative as Truphone on Android. No matter where you are in the world, the application can help you keep in touch with those who matter most, whether they’re a heartbeat — or an ocean — away.
Update: It appears there is a few hours delay for the visual voicemail feature, but it did indeed start working after this review was posted. The visual voicemail is a nice addition to the application. The clarity is top notch and despite the delay, was responsive as far as playback and voicemail management.