I’ve written in the past about my desire for Google Voice to provide voice over IP capability on Android phones. The reason why I desire the capability is that I don’t have good T-Mobile coverage in the basement of my condo, which is where my home office is located. Ideally, I would like the Google Voice app on Android to work just like the voice chat service that Google recently added to Gmail, allowing users to make and receive phone calls using your Google Voice number.
T-Mobile is actually a pioneer in providing voice over IP capability on mobile phones as it has been selling Blackberries that support Unlicensed Mobile Access (UMA) for several years. UMA enables mobile calls to be sent and received over the Internet and automatically hands off current phone calls between the Internet and their mobile network. UMA would meet my needs but unfortunately is not available for Android, which is my preferred smartphone OS. Today I learned that T-Mobile may be providing something similar to UMA for Android phones it sells in the future.
The TmoNews web site has posted some pictures of what they say are slides from T-Mobile training about a Wi-Fi calling application for Android devices. While the forthcoming T-Mobile G2 phone is not pictured in the training slide, TmoNews says that they have seen the icon on the slide in some materials about the G2. Reports are that the Wi-Fi Calling app does not support hand-off between the Internet and T-Mobile’s mobile network but rather functions like Skype, working solely on the Internet. TYe app will be pre-installed on new Android devices sold by T-Mobile.
I still prefer that the Android Google Voice app provided voice over IP because I use my Google Voice number as my primary mobile phone number. However, T-Mobile’s Wi-Fi calling app and service would address the issue of poor coverage in my home and if the app does end up being included on the G2 I may be enticed enough to buy it over my plans to wait until this spring before buying a new Android phone. I am looking forward to an official announcement of the Wi-Fi Calling app from T-Mobile.