Android app makes IDD phone cards simpler

12 Mar 2009

With ease-of-use emerging as one of the killer mobile app of 2009, the concept has been even been applied to IDD via one of the more useful phone apps I've seen in awhile. No, it's not mobile VoIP - it's Android Calling Card.

Mission: to make IDD calling cards super-easy to use.

IDD calling cards are great for saving money when traveling overseas, especially from mobile users who want to call home. The problem is that they're a pain to use, thanks to the long card numbers and pins you have to either memorize or have written in front of you to use. The other problem, if you travel a lot and buy cards in specific markets, you end up with a wallet full of cards.

Created for the Android OS (hence the name) and now in Version 1.6b, the ACC essentially automates the calling card process. Fill in a template with the card info (name, card number, PIN, etc), and the next time you need to make an international call, just dial it using the ACC dialer app, and you're done.

You can also set it up for one-touch dialing, and call people via your contact list (provided the contact profile contains the IDD info, like a plus sign and the country code). And it supports multiple cards.

The one thing it doesn't appear to do is keep track of how many minutes are left on the registered cards, which would be helpful for situations like returning to a country where you bought a phone card and need to know if you need to buy a new one or top up the one you have. Sure, you can call a customer service number to find out, but we're talking ease of use here. (It does feature a call log to keep track of what IDD numbers you've dialed.)

Also, according to the developer's blog, ACC is incompatible with certain VoIP apps for mobiles - Voxofon Call Router, CallCard+Block, Truphone and Anywhere -which intercept outgoing IDD calls.

Either way, it's a nifty app - and one that could stir up controversy now that BoingBoing's Cory Doctorow has called attention to it. Some of you may remember that older mobile handsets used to actually support functions like this. Cellcos and mobile VoIP players are likely happier that they don't.

Luckily for them - at least for now - the ACC only works on one commercially available handset, and that field will probably less than six worldwide by the end of the year. Plenty of time for cellcos to rethink their international call tariff strategies and partnerships.

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