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January 29, 2007

Gizmo Call - easy, slick, a little rough at launch.

So, as reported on GigaOm, Gizmo has now launched a nifty little trick: a flash-based VoIP plugin. They appear to be offering 5min/day of free calling (10min if you sign up). For $4/year, you can add "your" callerID to outgoing calls.. otherwise, your caller ID for web-initiated calls will be a fake SIPPhone 747 area code call.

What's really neat, in my opinion, is that you can now create click-to-call links that aren't hosted by you, the blogger. I can, for instance, make a GizmoCall link to the GrandCentral number I use (as mentioned in a previous post). So, try and give me a call, if you dare:

Call Me for FREE

Unfortunately, as the next thing I always try with a public service is how to connect it to my own private ones, there's less good here. GizmoCall, as with the GizmoProject client, likes to eat non-numeric SIP urls. You should, for instance, be able to call me at my public SIP URL, using a link like this one: http://gizmocall.com/sip:bpvoip17@geekdom.net. However, at this writing, two things go wrong: first, most browsers escape the @, which the GizmoCall interface doesn't un-escape. Secondly, non-numeric SIP addresses seem to get special-but-incorrect treatment in Gizmo. Numeric SIP calls seem to go through just fine with GizmoCall (this one, for instance: Call Me for FREE).

One last nit: the auto-complete interface is a nightmare. They'd've been better to launch without a feature like this than to launch one that makes it nearly impossible to dial different numbers with similar prefixes, such as is there now.

In summary: neat new service. If this stays working, it'll be a very handy thing to have around.. it did, indeed, take me about 20s to get it working on my Mac. A less experienced user would probably succeed in a couple of minutes, though, which really does make it a low barrier to entry.

Bonus discovery as a result of testing for this post: Apparently GrandCentral has internally configured themselves to complete calls to the Gizmo “fake” 747 area code. So, if people call you on your GrandCentral number from SIPPhone-based hardware or software, you can return the call through GrandCentral's voicemail callback or web-initiated calling feature. Probably also means you can list a Gizmo number as one of the calling destinations of your GrandCentral number.

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