Business phone apps, Should My business Using them?

by | Mar 11, 2019 | BUSINESS PHONE SYSTEM | 1 comment

Business phone apps, Should My business Using them?

Business phone apps are quickly turning into a viable alternative to VoIP services in the modern office. For most offices, the question is: should my business be using business phone apps? Just like VoIP phone services removed the need for expensive cables, physical extensions, operators and more, the business phone app is poised to remove the need for hardware altogether.

 All you need is a smartphone with a reliable internet connection. Download the app from the VoIP provider of your choice. Connect to your company’s network, and you’re online. You can make all the calls you need, from anywhere. Before deciding if your business should transition to business phone apps, it’s important to understand what they are, and how they work. These apps may offer some advantages over your current VoIP solution. However, some disadvantages may also occur.

What is the business phone app?

Business phone apps are built atop a softphone software program. This means that they are a client designed to mimic the intuitive nature of traditional telephones while transitioning the functionality of VoIP to any device. Business phone apps can be built for mobile phones as well as desktops. They are usually well integrated. With a business phone app installed on your phone as well as your desktop, you can start a call at your desk, continue on your phone while waiting for your lunch order.

These days, business phone app providers offer some pretty standard services. Virtually any app provider will have multi-account work packages. This means employees will all have their own account which would be patched into their office network. Employees would have access to a contact list featuring their coworkers. Usually, this list also shows your colleagues online status as well. You can also initiate conference calls right on your smartphone with the rest of your team. Of course, both call details and your message history would be accessible on your phone as well as your desktop application. Employees on the same network can also share and open each other’s files.

Many of these functions do a pretty good job of replacing fixed VoIP phone hardware, but it’s not that simple.

Three of the biggest apps in the business:

These days a lot of business phone app providers are entering the enterprise services market. They compete with variations on the common services or maneuvering room on plan pricing. To get a good idea of what business phone apps can do, let’s focus on three of the biggest apps out there: Zoiper, Bria and Linphone.

ZoiPer:

ZoiPer was one of the first business phone app makers to enter the market back in 2003. To date, they have 10 million users. In the ensuing years, the company has continuously expanded its a range of applications. Clients can now use ZoiPer products on Apple phones, Android devices, Mac OS, Windows, and Linux.

ZoiPer has focused on streamlining the customer experience as much as possible. They have greatly simplified the user interface navigation and introduced automatic account creation to keep as much of the guessing work away from the client.

ZoiPer also offers some integration options, including its own web-based CRM for executing external actions during calls. The ZoiPer software development kit (SDK) makes it possible for clients to adapt the business phone app to their own needs. As a whitephone, customers can apply their own branding, logo, and colors on the app.

Bria:

Bria promises enterprise customers the ability to totally replace VoIP hardware if necessary. With its new 5th generation business phone app, Bria offers seamless integration to Windows Office. Employees can see if their contacts are available and directly message them through Microsoft Outlook.

This business phone app offers several other nifty features. Call and messaging histories can be exported to other devices. Users can go through missed calls pretty easily. Users can record calls, send voicemails, have high-resolution video conversations, send and receive instant messages and more.

Bria also promises the highest security standards available to ensure that calls and messages remain private. This level of protection is achieved through TLS and SRTP media encryption. In addition, their firewall complies with the harshest  IC, STUN & TURN standards.

Like it’s competitors, Bria sells itself on its versatility. The app is quite customizable. The app’s interface can be configured to include your company’s branding, logo, colors and so on. Security protocols can also be tailored to the client’s needs. It can even integrate directly with Salesforce. For an additional fee, Bria can turn your smartphone into a customer service center. Finally, it’s available in most of the World’s most widely used languages.

Linphone:

Linphone is France’s entry into the global business phone app competition. Just like the others, it allows customers to make and receive voice, video and text communications. However, the name of the game here is simplicity. The company has built its multi-language interface on the GTK+ platform which also makes it easy to run on Linux (the platform it was originally designed for).

Linphone is also a cross-platform business phone application. It’s available on iOS, Android, MacOs, Windows as well as the original Linux build. Both voice and text communications are end-to-end encrypted.

Comparing the platforms:

Bria, Linphone, and Zoiper offer many of the same services since most of these have become standard. However, they do differ somewhat in terms of pricing, capabilities, performance, and features.

Licensing:

Both Bria and Zoiper make use of proprietary software licensing. Zoiper offers custom licensing models to its clients. These range from per-user licenses to unlimited installations. Bria, on the other hand, offers the option of buying a perpetual license up front for a bigger fee, or through monthly installments.

The linphone licensing built on the GNU General Public License. This is because of the company’s commitment to using open source software. Linphone actually keeps its source code available on its website.

Protocols:

Bria runs on the most protocols out of the three. It functions on Real-Time Transport (RTP), Session Initiation Protocol (SIP), Extensible Messaging and Presence Protocol (XMPP),  Interactive Connectivity Establishment (ICE) all of which are used with Session Traversal Utilities for NAT (STUN). The mobile app version runs SIP.

Zoiper works with SIP and Inter-Asterisk eXchange (IAX), while Linphone is mostly confined to SIP.

Encryption:

All three business phone applications make use of end to end encryption for iOS and Android devices. However, it’s important to clarify what that means. True end to end encryption would mean that the devices communicate directly with each other. However, these enterprise VoIP software companies store conversations on third-party servers. This is what allows people to retrieve sent files or audio clips from their phones days or weeks after they were sent. These are technically vulnerable to Man-In-The-Middle attacks. This being said, they all employ a high level of security measures for preventing such breaches.

All three business phone apps use the TLS, SRTP and ZRTP encryption methods.

Languages:

Bria’s softphone is available in English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, German, Chinese (Mandarin), Dutch, Japanese and Russian. The Mac version only supports six languages: English, French, Portuguese, Spanish, Russian and Japanese.

Linphone is available in English, Arabic, Dutch, French, German, Japanese, Russian and Traditional Chinese. Zoiper, for its part, does not list the different languages available on its platform.

A number of users:

Bria can support voice conference calls of up to 6 users. The video calling feature, while also making conference calls possible, only supports three users at the same time.

Linphone audio conference calls support up to 8 users but does not offer the option for video calling.

Pricing:

Zoiper’s base product it’s slightly cheaper than Bria’s. The Zoiper desktop app costs 45 USD compared to Bria’s 50 USD. However, Bria also has a subscription model starting at 10 USD per year (though this may vary depending on the team size).

Understanding the Pros and Cons:

The Pros:

For the most part, the advantages of using a business phone app are pretty obvious. You and your employees get the mobility and freedom to conduct business from anywhere. You get to maintain a lot of the functionalities which your office VoIP service offers. Their intuitive user interface design makes them easy to install and use to anyone who’s ever used a smartphone. Finally, they don’t require any additional hardware. Most people already own a smartphone.

The Cons:

Business phone apps come with their downsides as well. First, they consume an enormous amount of power. They heat up your phone pretty quickly and lack some key functionalities which most business phone systems require to operate. They can be unreliable for large conference calls (especially video). Routing calls to the right extension can be pretty difficult on the go.

In some cases, users may expect extra costs for running business phone apps in addition to all the other monthly expenses business spend on communications.

Conclusions:

A good business phone app should serve as an addition, rather than a replacement, for your office’s VoIP phone solution. Installing such an app on your iOS or Android device can serve as a great way to continue to conduct business on the go. However, your regular VoIP phone system is still capable of a lot more functionality necessary to run your company on a daily basis.

These days, VoIP providers are working on their own mobile application extensions for the services they already provide. Keep an eye out for those possibilities.

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This