Gizmo, now making browser based phone calls

30 Comments

Update #2: The service is live now

Update: The service is still not publicly available and is protected right now. Don’t try your Gizmo username or password – this is a seperate combo, which only company officials are privy to. More updates to follow.

SIPphone, the company behind Gizmo Project has introduced a new product, Gizmo Call that make is fairly simple to make VoIP calls from any browser that can support Adobe’s Flash.

You can visit Gizmocall.com, and you are prompted to download a small plugin, which is available for both Windows and Mac computers. We had reported on this development back in December 2006.

From a usability standpoint, this one gets a big thumbs up from me. After installing this tiny plugin, you are given a screen that is pretty much a Flash-based replica of the Gizmo Project soft client. (More on Flash & VoIP.)

The client auto configures your system, and uses the built in audio and video hardware of a computer to make phones calls. It easily found my Plantronics bluetooth headset, and used the MacBook Pro’s internal video camera for video calling.

You can call anyone who has either a Google Talk client or a Gizmo ID. Of course you can connect to PSTN numbers as well, by typing in the number you wish to connect to. Gizmo has also created a little embeddeable link which you can copy and paste in your blog, or on your MySpace page. People can call you by clicking on that button. You can embed the link in your emails as well. Its like SkypeMe, except you don’t need to launch a new application, but instead you use the web browser.

By launching this new browser based calling service, SIPphone is ensuring that it is staying current with newer rivals such as Jajah, Jaxtr, Wengo (Disclosure: Wengo is an advertiser on GigaOM Network) who are using widgets to popularize their services.

With no desktop client software to download, Gizmo & SIPphone are betting that there will be further interest in their low cost phone service. While my mother is grateful for these low cost services, I still remain skeptical of a business model that is reliant on low price as a business tool.

30 Comments

Damian

F.Y.I.

Click2Voice has no software to download and no hardware to buy.

Nothing is required to make calls other than an existing phone number that can receive an inbound call.

Damian

Click2Voice offering free long distance calls to most of the world free. No registration necessary for the United States and Canada. If you register it will increase your maximum talktime by 50% and you will gain International calling.

Registered users have access to dialing 29 countries 100% free of charge an unlimited amount of times. Users are only limited only to a 15 min max call durations right now.

Calls are currently subsidized by an honor system. “Make a Call. Click an Ad.”

sudipta das

If this is using the same network as Gizmo Project, I would expect to see significantly lower call quality on it from that of Skype.

I have used both to record podcasts, and whilst Gizmo would be more convenient given its record button, the quality on PC-PC calls simply isn’t up to scratch when compared to Skype.

That may not be something, however, that concerns the mainstream; to a new VoIP user with no expectations, they will be impressed if the service performs even slightly more effectively than PSTN. So it could work.

al1en

and, finaly, does anyone know a web based call service where we can use it to call any phone number for free?

Markus Göbel

So, how will you finance your mentioned free click-to-call application (http://click2voice.com/)? Maybe by advertising like http://www.peterzahlt.de/ in Germany?

How will you pay the 2 termination fees that you have to cover for your callback service? Where is the difference to the free version Jajah (that is also financed by advertising) and other callback services that exist in the web?

And why can I put in only 10 digit numbers? Who has such a short number?

I am always very exited about new services. :)

Damian

i have a prototype for a free click-to-call application. completely free, no downloading, no configuration.

this service is pre-alpha for another week or so. by the end of the week i will have new dedicated hardware in a hosted colo facility…for now it is running on a spare desktop and has a limit of 2 simultaneous calls (4 outbound call legs).

i’m personally bootstrapping this project before i continue working on my phoogle.com enhanced information service (no, not the mapping api phoogle). knowing that the competition has a nice lead in this market i will confidently mention that they shall hear footsteps shortly, let it be known that the race is officially on! (i kicked my 2 year wow addiction in december… :)

Markus Göbel

Well, after having installed the plugin 5 times it works now under Windows XP. But at first it seems that Gizmocall was “forgetting” the plugin again and again.

Oh Well

I’ve never gotten past ‘reinstall plugin’, the plugin is there, I have tried removing it and reinstalling it, still ‘reinstall plugin’

The Gizmocall plugin is crappy

As I told you before (under the name German user) I had to install the plugin 4 times. In this morning I wanted to use Gizmocall. And what does it say to me? “Reinstall Plugin!” What the … is this? Why does it want me to install the plugin again and again? Does my Windows XP forget it? Is the plugin crappy? At first I was very enthusiastic. Not so much anymore.

eas

Wow, at first this sounded totally clever, then the fact that it requires a little app to be insalled and run comes out, which seems totally dumb.

Interested user

Very interesting. I played around with this thing using WireShark. The plugin is a 1MB download and installs a service on your machine that seems to communicate with the Flash UI using binary socket support in Flash Player 9.
Basically Flash app seems to be the frontend and Gizmoplugin.exe is the backend and they communicate over a socket.

When someone wants to use the Gizmo flash widget to make a call, the Flash app sends a message to the GizmoPlugin process over the binary socket which then initiates the SIP call. Once the call is setup, the Flash app streams audio from the microphone over to the GizmoPlugin process (again over the binary socket) which then converts the audio to iLBC format and sends it out as RTP for the call. Here is the main inefficiency in this approach as opposed to using a native SIP softphone. GizmoPlugin.exe took 10% of CPU time on my 2GHz dual core laptop. Though it is inefficient, it probably doesn’t matter since its not using any server side resources. Same data path is used in reverse for audio coming from the called party.

German user

Well, in fact it is Flash 9 + a small *.exe that you have to install if you use Windows. Apple users have to download another piece of program. This must be what they call “plugin”. I have now Flash 9 for Linux and can already see more parts of the Gizmocall website like if I was using Windows. But after I put in the number it requires me to download the plugin which does not exist for Linux yet. C’mon Gizmo folks! Hope to get it soon.

German user

I’m a little confused here, Om. Does it use Flash or
does it require a (different) plugin?

It is just the newest version (9) of the flash player. The flash player can now control your microphone, speakers and camera. That’s what makes Gizmocall possible. And that is the reason why Gizmocall does not work on Linux yet. Flash 9 for Linux is not out yet. At least it came out so recently that most of the Linux people don’t have it yet.

Wes Felter

I’m a little confused here, Om. Does it use Flash or does it require a (different) plugin?

German user

Now the GIZMOCALL website is finally open for everyone, but it does not work for me as a Linux user. I just got this comment on my screen:

Gizmo Call does not yet work on Linux computers. We like Linux and we use Linux and we’re going to make Gizmo Call work for Linux. Adobe just recently released Flash 9 for Linux which Gizmo Call requires which is why we have been delayed in releasing Linux support for Gizmo Call. You may want to try the Linux version of Gizmo Project available at http://gizmoproject.com which works on most Linux distributions. You can also try the Nokia n800 Linux tablet which runs Linux and Gizmo Project. Go Linux!!

1.) Now I am booting my wife’s Windows machine.

2.) The Gizmocall website requires me to download a plugin.

3.) Now I am trying to call my German mobile phone. For quite a long time it says “Waiting for the Flash plugin”. So I better shut down Firefox and open it again.

4.) OK, after the restart it looks different, because of the loaded plugin I suppose.

5.) Dammit! Again it wants me to install the plugin. Maybe last time it did not work because I had no administrator rights. But it said “setup complete” to me during the installation process. Will change into Admin mode now.

6.) Yes, you have to be Admin if you do it for the first time. The Flash player asks me for permition to use my microphone.

7.) Now it is already the 3rd time I have to install the plugin. Will try it now with Microsoft Internet Explorer.

8.) It always says “Waiting for the Flash Plugin”. Yet it is the 4th time that I have to (re-)install it.

9.) I will reboot the Windows PC now. I could not make any phone call still. Not even to a landline. The Flash website does not let me put in the phone number.

10.) Hopefully after the reboot it will be better.

11.) Oh my god! The reboot takes very long. Hopefully Gizmo did not screw my system? Malware?

:)

12.) OK, my fault. I just switched off instead of reboot. Now the PC is booting again.

13.) NOW IT WORKS! (mostly)

14.) RESULTS OF MY FIRST TRIAL

14.a.) Call to my landline:
Excellent
(But why does this eat up my free minutes? This landline is an ENUM number which directs to a SIP adress. Withe the Gizmo Project software I can call it for free. Why not from the Gizmocall website?

14.b.) Call to my SIP address:
Great
(But why does this eat up my free minutes? Calls to SIP adresses must be free!)

14.c.) Call to my mobile:
Bad
(Eats up my free minutes but my mobile phone does never ring. Why this?)

15.) MY OPINION:

Summing it all up: Great service! Can be a Jajah killer. Reminds me of Ageet (http://www.ageet.com/us/agephone/webobject.htm) and their smallest software PBX, which actually is a ActiveX plugin. But Gizmocall does not work only with Internet Explorer. And also it is free to everyone, unliky Ageet which is only being sold to companies.

Great work! (After all the first time user hassle I had to suffer.)

Om Malik

They were supposed to launch this on Monday, but I guess it is later today. Anyway it is good enough to revisit the site.

Neville Hobson

A post in the new Gizmo Call user forum says –

“The site is currently password protected until Monday afternoon — the official release. If you are a Freespire/Linspire Insider, you can obtain the password from their forum. If not, just hang out for a couple more days.”

Very long URL to the post; you can find it from here – http://forum.gizmoproject.com/

Robert Dewey

Why didn’t Skype take this route? They could have built a bad ass web-app instead of a desktop application. Perhaps there is some sort of limitation?

Ben Metcalfe

Sadly it seems GizmoCall is not out of beta (or maybe just alpha). The appear to have implemented user authentication on the site to stop the un-washed masses from testing this out.

German user

Om, what’s going on? I try to go to http://www.gizmocall.com/ and it does not open. Instead it wants a login and password from me. I put in my login data for the Gizmo Project and nothing happens. It will not let me in. Maybe you are too early with the revelation of Gizmo Call, so that they have to hide it now. Maybe it’s not yet finished?

A service like this is definitely necessary for my friends abroad. They love to call me for free, using the Gizmo Project. Only that they mess up their system regularily and cannot call me then, until I visit them to fix it. If the Gizmo Project software is embedded in a website they cannot mess it up. Great idea!

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