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Thursday, October 28, 2010

Line2 App Turns Your iPod into a Phone -- with Unlimited Calls and Texts

For $9.95 a month, Line2 provides unlimited calls and texts for iPhone, iPod and iPad users -- and even lets you text on airplanes.

Hold the line: For $9.95 a month, Line2 provides unlimited calls and texts over Wi-Fi on the iPod Touch.Toktumi (say it fast -- "talk to me") is an aptly named company. While it offers hosted PBX calling systems for businesses, it has made a bigger splash with the Line2 iOS application for the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad. Line2 is a dual-mode calling application that uses either Wi-Fi or cellular networks -- which gives iPhone users a second line, transforms the iPod Touch and iPad into calling devices and provides unlimited calls and texts in the United States and Canada. And people are certainly taking advantage of the new all-you-can-text function, with Line2 users sending more than 1 million messages in the first four days after the updated app launched.

Since Line2 can be powered by Wi-Fi, you might be wondering where airplanes come into the equation. Planes have long been forbidden territory for cell phones. There is some question about potential interference with aircraft navigation systems, but that hasn't really been proven. The real issue may be that travelers don't want to be strapped in next to a person loudly sharing personal details with Aunt Bertha on a four-hour flight.

You may not be able to exercise your cell phone in the air, but a number of airlines now offer paid Wi-Fi on flights. Knowing that Line2 works for calling over Wi-Fi means users could theoretically yap away through the entire flight. Airlines have put in place technology that blocks voice calls, but workarounds are constantly popping up. For those with more restraint and sense, the app's new text messaging feature is a much more polite way to stay in touch with the office, colleagues, friends and family while zooming along at 35,000 feet. The interface is clean and simple. Texting is unlimited in the United States and Canada and costs 10 cents per text for international messages.

The new texting feature is all fine and dandy, but the real business proposition here involves saving money. Line2 includes unlimited calling in the United States and Canada for $9.95 per month. If you can route a chunk of your calls over Wi-Fi, then you can go with a lower priced calling package. It also brings calling and SMS capability to the iPod Touch and iPad, so you can act like you have an iPhone whenever a wireless network is handy.

Line2 makes sense for business users who are often hanging around Wi-Fi hotspots at the office or on the road. There are other text messaging apps and VoIP apps for iOS, but none of them have the smoothly combined feature set of Line2. With text messaging added to the equation, it makes the 30-day free trial worth checking out. Business users who want to get into a more robust calling system can upgrade to Toktumi's $14.95 per month deal that includes an auto attendant, custom greetings, visual voicemail and other PBX features.