I spend a lot of time each day communicating with colleagues and clients, by phone, email, on social networks, and via the occasional fax. But when I need to have a short conversation and get an answer right away, instant messaging is hard to beat. Unfortunately, there are several IM protocols, and most of them don’t talk to each other. That’s why I use the multi-protocol IM software Adium on the Mac and Pidgin on the PC. I can also use a web-based alternative like Meebo or the new Imo.im.
VoxOx wants to take multi-system communication several steps further. In addition to the various IM protocols, it supports social networks (Facebook, MySpace and Twitter); SMS texting; faxing; private email; file sharing; video conversations; and voice connections. VoxOx also supports Skype messaging, although you have to have the Skype software running, which sort of defeats its purpose.
When you sign up for the service, you are assigned a telephone number in southern California (other locations are apparently on the way). Incoming calls to that number, and voice conversations between you and other VoxOx users, are free; other calls are charged at rates similar to other VoIP services. VoxOx has just begun offering flat-fee voice and texting plans, at prices it claims are significantly cheaper than Skype’s. VoxOx’s other services are free.
In recent days, VoxOx has released beta 2.0.5. The software has improved since I first tried it a year or so ago, but it is very definitely still a work in progress. Its dark background with white text theme is hard on the eyes and isn’t editable, and its contact manager has no provision for importing from or syncing with other address books.
VoxOx seems to be trying to collect the useful features from Skype, conferencing services, virtual PBX services, instant messaging and file sharing services, and putting them all in one place. It’s a pretty cool idea, and VoxOx is definitely worth trying, but I’m not quite ready to make it part of my daily workflow yet.
Have you used VoxOx? What did you think of it?