Bobsled Calling for iPhone and iPad
It’s tempting to treat Bobsled Calling as a variation on Skype. And while there are a lot of similarities between the two apps, there are also some crucial differences.
Like Skype, Bobsled Calling—a free offering from Vivox, and heavily promoted by T-Mobile—turns your iOS device into a VoIP phone: All you need is a cellular network or Wi-Fi connection and you can call and send text messages from your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch. That’s where the significant similarities end.
Skype charges you a fee to call landline phones; all calls on Bobsled Calling are free. (They are, however, limited to 75 minutes apiece—and be warned that your device’s data rates will still apply.) Skype allows for video and conference calls; Bobsled Calling does not. But Bobsled Calling has a social component—it can be linked to your Facebook account—while Skype is more of a standalone product. (Skype also comes in two separate versions for the iPhone and iPad, while Bobsled Calling runs natively on all devices.)
The Facebook integration is the biggest difference. You can use Bobsled Calling to chat live with Facebook friends who are online; if your friend wants to chat with you, Bobsled can alert you with a push notification. You can also leave voice messages on their Facebook walls. (Beware: Everybody else on Facebook can see those messages, too, so don’t say anything you don’t want the world to click on and hear.) And if your friend is also a Bobsled user, their Facebook account can act as their “phone number” within the app.
Some drawbacks: The iPhone version of the app appears to offer a speakerphone option, but the audio is so quiet it doesn’t really work. And if you’re running Bobsled Calling on multiple iOS devices, from the same account, information is not synced between them: “Favorite” a friend on one device, and it won’t show up on the other.
If you’re looking for an unfussy little VoIP app, however, Bobsled Calling is a solid choice.
[Joel Mathis is a writer in Philadelphia.]