Mobile application priority to the test
Anyone who regularly uses VoIP mobile applications has experienced the mobile application priority issue before. You are in a call on let’s say Skype and then someone calls your mobile number.
This happened to me again last week, I was on Skype (Desktop), other person Skype on mobile, he got a cellular call coming in.
Then the magic happened, I was put on hold without any warning and reconnected only once he disconnected the cellular call.
There are many VoIP apps out there
Earlier this month a small Israeli startup named Yallo raised series B of $2.3M totaling, according to CrunchBase, $6.3M of funding from all rounds. Funding was from a well-known and experienced local VC as well as from Deutsche Telekom and its investment arm T-Ventures.
I looked at Yallo several months ago as they were sort of a competitor to a company I consulted back then. I didn’t understand why should I use them over any other existing alternative. Looking at them again didn’t change my view. Yet another VoIP calling service that promises to change our calling experience.
I guess the VCs know something we don’t know.
Features included are:
- WiFi calling
- Call caption – add text to the call so callee knows why you are calling
- Voice to Text sending voice mail to email as text
- Automatic call reconnection if call disconnected
- Call interrupt on busy
- International numbers and low rates
Did you find anything new and exciting here?
There are plenty of companies trying do tackle the existing calling services of the operators, from the giants as Microsoft (Skype), Google (Hangouts), Tencent (WeChat) and Facebook (WhatsApp and Messenger) to many small companies such as Wire and Talko that try to take a different stab at personal and team communication. Many of these companies use WebRTC in one-way or another (as a complete stack of code or cutting bits and pieces of it as they see fit).
In all cases, when on mobile, they live side by side to your phone dialer and always have a lower priority for calls.
There are 2 fundamental problems preventing mass market consumers from taking data only from their operators and causing users to have several VoIP applications on their devices:
- As big of an island an OTT is, it is still an Island. People still want their phone number to be reached from any network – calls and SMS
- Dialer and mobile application priority
Another problem is more of a low level technical one, try walking around with several VoIP applications running and make a few calls using them. You battery will not last for that long.
The dialer priority problem
The dialer priority problem stems from the fact we users have several VoIP applications and a “real” phone number to be called on.
The mobile application priority problem is not only between an application and an incoming cellular call, it is also between applications.
The phone’s native dialer always has priority over a running application causing the experience mentioned above but problem persists in application calling as well. Having 2 calls on 2 different applications is not a fun experience as well.
I made the following experiment.
Called another device on WhatsApp. Then called it on Viber. The WhatsApp call was automatically placed on hold as the Viber call came in. Moreover, it was hard to understand which call is now active and which is held.
A similar ugly experience happens when switching this around between the applications.
If you want to make this experience even worse, try calling a device that is locked with passcode.
The native and application dialer priority is eventually a notifications priority issue and it should be solved in the OS level, giving the user more control over the behavior of several things:
- User control over mobile application priority – give higher priority to a specific application if user wishes to
- A more granular differentiate between types of notifications – message, incoming call
- Control the behavior of the application when a new notification of a specific type comes in (e.g. should call be placed on hold automatically)
Allow to open an incoming call notification even if device is locked similar to an incoming cellular call that can be answered even if device is locked