This morning I saw that Jeremy Allaire had pointed out this new piece of software for our Nokia 3650s called Buzz2Talk which allows your phone to Push To Talk over an internet connection. In other words, VoIP from your mobile phone. Obviously I wanted to try it to see if it worked, and to see if it was compatible with Bluetooth, and to compare it with the original PTT app for the Series60: FastChat. The results? This app blows FastChat out of the water. [Update: I got a little over-enthusiastic and was a little hasty. FastChat's UI is still the best, their set up was more straight forward and I never actually got to use it to voice chat. Buzz2Talk takes a serious effort to use and isn't nearly as stable of an app. It is neat that it uses a standard VoIP network, though, and isn't proprietary like FastChat.]
It's actually just a mobile interface to Free World Dialup, a VoIP application which I only discovered a few weeks ago when Skype was launched. This app is *exactly* the app that I described in this post! Actually, it's better, because it doesn't need a PC connection at all - for those who are in the U.S. on T-Mobile's unlimited GPRS connection account, they are totally styling. For those of us paying $25/MB here in Europe, we'll be stuck using our Bluetooth internet connections, but the results are that it actually works using that method, so no biggie. (Bluetooth takes up a lot of memory - over 600k - when it's running so many apps either can't run at the same time, or for some reason can't use the internet connection
It did take a bit to get installed because many of the terms aren't clear. Here's the steps if you want to get up and running using this app right now:
1. Go to Free World Dialup and sign up. It's pretty easy and you'll receive a FWD number. Mine is 66423
2. Go to Buzz2Talk.com and download the .sis file and send it to your phone via Bluetooth or Infrared. It arrives as a message in your phone's Inbox.
3. Open When the option for install comes up, you *must* install it to your phone's memory, not your MMC.
4. Using the menu, find the Buzz2Talk-FWD icon and start the app. The settings come up, but they're *different* than what's on the site's install page. Joy. Enter your name in the top spot (any name is fine), ignore the email and MSNID fields, and enter in your FWD number at the bottom where it says "SIP-Url". (Yeah, that's clear. I had to email them to figure out what the hell went where.
5. Connect, it'll give you an option for which access point you want to use - choose one that's an open internet connection, not for WAP or MMS. I won't even try to explain how to get Bluetooth networking up and running, but if you've got that working, you can choose that access point as well.
6. If you want to just try it out, you can add the numbers 55555 and 10001 to your buddy lists. These are both test accounts which you can leave messages on.
Free World Dialup has a a plug-in you can install for MSN Messenger (which I did) so if you want to play with FWD even if you don't have a phone, you can do it via that path as well. If you have any trouble, you can use Buzz2Talk's new message board (which they sent me via email) to ask questions. That's how I found out I needed to install on the phone and not the MMC.
This VoIP stuff is going to really have an effect on how we communicate really soon. Anil already uses Skype via his Bluetooth headset and has saved hundreds of dollars in calls back to the U.S. This FWD app is just another amazing step in this direction.
Cool beans. Now I've got to find someone to chat with! :-)
Update 2: (The first update is above). The app definitely works, I've chatted with Janne in Finland and Matt in the U.S. already, but it's definitely *not* anywhere near the live experience of Skype, for example. Calling it VoIP is true only in the most technical sense. The way it works is just like FastChat. You hold down the joypad, talk, and it records your voice and then sends it as a package (it doesn't seem to be streamed) to the recipient. It's about 15-30 seconds from talk to receive in total. It works, but it's definitely slow and not a replacement for the telephone. It's too bad the messages aren't cached like IMs, because sometimes on a long message some of the voice is garbled - I'm pretty sure that's how FastChat works.
Anyways, cool tech.