CounterPath has long been known for its SIP softphone clients, Xlite and Bria. Xlite is a free PC-based softphone client which provides basic voice calling and instant messaging features.
Bria is their full-feature business grade offering which:
- Provides access to an IP-based telephone system or service from a PC (Windows, Mac and Linux), iPhone or Android
- Can communicate with contacts from multiple sources, such as Microsoft Outlook, mobile phone address books and company directories
- Provides presence status (currently PC editions only)
- Supports a wide range of business standard call management features
- Incorporates support for chat sessions, including group chat (currently PC editions only)
- Has security features that allow firewall traversal
Over the past year CounterPath has released its Bria iPhone (and iPod Touch) edition with several updates (current version 1.2.1) as well as Bria Android edition. Both work over 3G or WiFi connections. A key feature is the ability to use the iPhone or Android as an extension to a PBX. From their product description:
Using the iPhone or iPod’s existing contact list, Bria iPhone Edition facilitates easy and effective communication management with an intuitive interface that accommodates multiple calls. Call functionality includes the ability to swap between two calls, merge and split calls and perform attended and unattended transfers.
Yesterday CounterPath released Bria iPad Edition which basically can turn an iPad into an IP phone for use in business telephone systems that support SIP. Effectively it can replace a desktop IP phone but also allows you to take that phone off the desk and accompany you on your travels. Your extension becomes physically available wherever you have your iPad as long as it has Internet access via 3G/LTE or WiFi. From their product description:
Bria iPad Edition facilitates easy communication with an intuitive interface that includes all of the standard phone features such as call display, call history, voicemail indicator and multiple call support. Multitasking functionality also allows Bria iPad Edition to run in the background while you use your iPad, allowing you to reference other applications while on a call.
And from the press release, which lists in detail several key features:
Unlike other VoIP voice applications marketed for the iPad that were introduced primarily for the iPhone, Bria iPad Edition is designed specifically for all Apple iPads. This iPad-centric foundation means that Bria iPad Edition leverages the device’s large, high-resolution display, providing a richer user experience that enhances the features found in the Bria iPhone Edition.
Bria iPad Edition’s separated navigation panes make it effortless to find contact information and initiate calls. A one-touch popover dialpad is elegantly minimized yet easily accessible at all times, while the iPad’s native keyboard is also available for entering alphanumeric SIP URL/addresses.
During the past year I have set up Bria on a MacBook and iPhone, using it as one of my “phones” that is hooked up to my FREETALK Connect telephone system. Yesterday I added Bria iPad Edition to my iPad and have done some inbound and outbound test calls through the FREETALK Connect. Effectively my iPad has become one more “phone” when using the FREETALK Connect’s “Find Me” feature where calling my extension rings a Linksys IP phone, my Skype client, my BlackBerry (via an external call) and my iPad.
I made a call with Alec Saunders who also has the same configuration; both iPads were connected via WiFi to our local LAN, each of which included a FREETALK Connect. During the call I was able to record our conversation; the screen had options for transferring the call, adding a third party and either accepting or placing another call.
With all three smartphone/tablet editions, Bria interfaces to the device’s local address book and runs in background to answer calls while running other applications. During a call I also confirmed that you can also reference other applications while the call is handled in the background. As shown in the images from the call screen it also includes features such as multi-call support, call transfer and three-way calling.
My only concern is that it requires some technical knowledge to configure with the FREETALK Connect but that is a one-time exercise. While my experience involved a business telephony system, Bria iPad Editon comes preconfigured to work with several SIP service providers and it can be manually configured for any SIP-based service.
During a call with Todd Carothers, CounterPath’s Senior Vice-President Marketing and Products, , he pointed out that one of their learning experiences with these Fixed-Mobile convergence clients was how to deal with bouncing between WiFi and 3G connections in, say, a multi-level building. Basically they will incorporate into Bria a button that provides control over this situation by moving the call between 3G and mobile at the user’s discretion. Also Bria will soon be incorporating features to support SMS messaging and video calling.
Bottom line is that with Bria iPad Edition, my iPad has become a fully-featured IP phone that can be used through an business-grade telephony system for small business from any location worldwide provided there is a wireless Internet connection.
Bria iPad Edition is available at the iPad App Store at a price of $14.99.
One final comment: I have Truphone for iPad and, now, Bria for iPad. When will we see a unique Skype for iPad? If you use Google’s keyword tool, you’ll find that “Skype iPad” (and variations) is one of the more voluminous Google search requests associated with Skype. Delivering Skype for iPad will demonstrate that Skype is continuing along its path of Skype Everywhere, even after the announcement of the pending Microsoft acquisition. (It should be noted that outbound calls made to try out Bria iPad Edition were made over a SkypeOut service via the FREETALK Connect.)
Full disclosure: The producer of the FREETALK Connect has previously been a client of the publisher’s business development services; at this point, there is no business relationship. The publisher is opening a business providing consulting to small businesses who want to implement Skype and/or IP-based communications solutions. More details to follow next week. CounterPath’s Bria is simply one of the softphone products experienced over the past year while determining configurations that work with FREETALK Connect.