Wi-Fi calling coming to iPhones in iOS 8, with T-Mobile's support
Is this really as big a deal as T-Mobile thinks?
Computerworld - Apple's new iOS 8 will support Wi-Fi calling when the version launches in the fall, and T-Mobile US was quick to say on Monday it will support the feature on its customers' iPhones.
T-Mobile was the first U.S. wireless carrier to enable Wi-Fi calling, way back in 2007, on its Android and Windows smartphones, according to a blog posted by T-Mobile's Chief Marketing Officer Mike Sievert.
Like T-Mobile, Sprint also has Wi-Fi calling, which can be used when no cellular signal is available. When the nationwide carriers were asked on Tuesday whether they would support Wi-Fi calling in iOS 8 devices, Verizon Wireless spokeswoman Debra Lewis responded, "I'm not going to speculate on what might be offered in the future on our nationwide network, and we don't offer Wi-Fi calling currently."
Sprint hasn't made any announcements about Wi-Fi calling for the iPhone, spokesman Mark Elliott said. Sprint has five smartphones with the feature included, such as the Samsung Galaxy S4, and plans to expand Wi-Fi calling to more devices in 2014, he said. AT&T didn't respond to a request for comment.
The advantages of Wi-Fi calling would seem to include not having to pay the cellular service cost for a voice call, although T-Mobile counts voice over IP (VoiP) minutes using Wi-Fi calling as minutes against your service plan, according to Jack Gold, an analyst with J. Gold Associates who uses T-Mobile service. "Data is different, but voice is not free with Wi-Fi calling," he said. "You don't really save anything, as the carrier still counts VoIP minutes against your plan."
T-Mobile noted in a fact sheet on Monday that it doesn't charge any additional service charges for Wi-Fi calling. The carrier also noted that customers don't have to integrate another app, such as Skype, and can use their existing phone number. To carriers, the service can reduce the load on their cellular networks.
Gold said he uses the VoIP feature in his T-Mobile phone all the time at home because his cellular coverage is so poor. "The biggest benefit to Wi-Fi calling is for users who have poor carrier coverage," he said.
Given that, is Apple's support for Wi-Fi calling a big deal, at least as big as T-Mobile says it is? Or is it just one of many features coming in iOS 8 that Apple didn't have time to highlight in its two-hour keynote at its WWDC?
Apple flashed a slide of 32 hidden features in iOS 8 that it didn't take time talk about in the keynote. The features include items such as Wi-Fi calling, along with a Braille keyboard, support for Made for iPhone hearing aids and much more.
Some Apple critics quickly said Apple was trying to hide that it hasn't had Wi-Fi calling for years after Android and Windows Phone. Others said Wi-Fi calling isn't as important as Swift, a new programming language and many other announcements Apple made.
What Apple will offer with Wi-Fi calling is not much more than what it already offers with FaceTime video chat on iOS, minus the video, noted Patrick Moorhead, an analyst at Moor Insights & Strategy.
"Wi-Fi calling is really at the noise level for Apple ... that isn't all that important for the iPhone and potential iPhone users," Moorhead said. "With iOS 8, Apple has plugged a lot of competitive holes in messaging and communications, and Wi-Fi calling was one of those features added."
- Apple unwraps OS X Yosemite public beta Thursday
- Dev interest in OS X Yosemite is 4X what it was for Mavericks in '13
- Yosemite's 'Handoff' will work only on Macs less than 2-3 years old
- Headphone makers will be wary of Apple's Lightning audio pitch
- Devs can 'Handoff' iOS apps to browser-based UIs on Macs
- Apple's storage strategy: Clear, not cloudy
- Apple's Continuity tack brings ubiquitous computing to Yosemite and iOS 8
- What's in a name? Aussie 'HealthKit' firm unhappy with Apple
- Will Apple's Internet of Things vision hurt a beautiful idea?
- Apple returns to beta testing with Yosemite, just as Microsoft downplays the ritual
- Virtualization and Cloud Computing: Optimized Power, Cooling, and Management Maximizes Benefits The effects that the cloud and virtualization have on the data center are discussed and possible solutions or methods for dealing with them...
- Comparing Data Center Power Distribution Architectures Significant improvements in have been achieved in data center power distribution, increasing the options available for data centers. This paper compares five power...
- Implementing Hot and Cold Air Containment in Existing Data Centers This paper investigates the constraints, reviews all available containment methods, and provides recommendations for determining the best containment approach.
- Data Center Projects: Project Management The project management model described in this paper is a framework to show essential characteristics that must be considered in any implementation of...
- What should I look for in a Next Generation Firewall? SANS Provides Guidance With so many vendors claiming to have a Next Generation Firewall (NGFW), it can be difficult to tell what makes each one different....
- Why Are Customers Really Deploying an NGFW? It seems every IT Security expert is talking about the NGFW, but what are people really doing? This webcast covers 5 real-world customer... All Wireless Carriers White Papers | Webcasts
Our new weekly Consumerization of IT newsletter covers a wide range of trends including BYOD, smartphones, tablets, MDM, cloud, social and what it all means for IT. Subscribe now and stay up to date!