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Line2: A Fresh, Flexible Take on iPhone VoIP

As I mentioned in my story on Skype’s new version for Android and BlackBerry handsets on Verizon, I have this dream of using Google Voice or a Google Voice-like service to make calls on a smartphone over the data connection, thereby avoiding using up my precious supply of voice minutes. It turns out that Skype Mobile can’t help. But Line2, a new iPhone VoIP service from Toktumi, might be just what I’ve been looking for.

David Pogue reviews Line2 for the New York Times today, and he mostly likes it; I got a demo from Toktumi founder Peter Sisson yesterday at the CTIA Wireless show in Las Vegas. The service gives you a phone number that you can use via your AT&T line, over 3G data , or Wi-Fi. If you use the latter two options, you don’t use up your voice minutes. And it seems to do a remarkably good job of dealing with the fact that third-party apps can’t run in the background on the iPhone. (If Line2 isn’t running when someone calls you, you’ll get the call anyhow–it just comes in via your standard AT&T number.)

Unlike Google Voice or Skype, Line2 isn’t free–but the $15 a month sounds reasonable, and might pay for itself if you can downsize your AT&T plan to a level of service with fewer voice minutes. Sisson told me that Toktumi is working on an Android version of the app, which will make Line2’s benefits available on carriers other than AT&T.

As Pogue says, Line2 looks and feels very much like the iPhone’s standard phone dialer, only with more features; maybe you have a theory as to why Apple thought that the Google Voice app would “confuse” iPhone owners but is okay with Line2.

I’m signing up for a trial account and will let you know what I think…


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