SIP for the Apple iPhone Platform

Event:

Coincidentally with the session on mobile voip with Ruben Olsen, I finally pulled the trigger on an iPod Touch “second generation”. This is IMO the iPhone without phone, camera or GPS. What that leaves is a very good mobile computing platform with WiFi, an mp3 and video player and the worlds hippest most intelligent interface to date.

NOTE: I will add new clients I test to this thread as comments

NEW note: Ruben just published this article on the subject.

Cutting to the chase, I have tried several SIP clients in the last 48 hours, and here are a few of my experiences.

The best performer has been iPico, $9.99 but far ahead of the others in most things. It will do only a single SIP account though. Call quality was best and it dials SIP URI, something none of the others do AFAIK. This is important because to dial in to Talkshoe, ZipDX and many other things that interest me, I need SIP URI. Edit: iSip has fixed the audio issue I was having and demonstrated excellent support in the process.

Next comes iSip, $6.99, (built on pjsip). Multiple SIP accounts, decent interface but a problem with outgoing audio quality.

The I tried WeePhone, $4.99. It has the least well done interface, but looked as if it would work fine, but the outgoing audio was absolutely unuseable, horribly distorted.

Skype (not really a SIP client, but…) works well but can not make free calls to SIP services so I’m just adding that I did test it and it does work. And it’s free.

Looking at the reviews on the app store isn’t too enlightening because many reviewers don’t know much about the technology, so they are reacting to what the interface looks like or the fact that they don’t know what auth user name or proxy is, which would impede them in getting the client to work.

The main trouble I have had so far is the microphone that is a part of Apple’s $30 headset. If I can figure out how to keep that facing me, I think things will work better 🙂

{ 20 comments }

Ray August 8, 2009 at 2:38 am

By the way, iPico works with Junction Networks as well. Pretty sweet.

-Packetman

Enrique Mora August 8, 2009 at 9:24 am

Following your message on the Asterisk-users mail-list I tried the WeePhone app on my iPhone 3G.

This is the first SIP terminal I try that does not go through a 3rd party proxy. It registers directly on our Asterisk pbx.

I’m getting good audio. The best I’ve gotten to date with an iPhone SIP client.

I dont know how the processors compare between iPod Touch vs. iPhone 3G. Perhaps the bad audio quality you got was because the iPod doesnt have enough horsepower. If that were the case, it means that iPico makes more efficient use of CPU cycles (ergo less power consumption and better performance).

I see another requirement for SIP apps on the iPhone. They should turn off the screen when you put the phone to your ear and turn back on when you pull it away to look at the screen. This reduces heat and saves battery. That’s how the iPhone works and WeePhone does it. But this feature is missing on Fring, Truephone and another app I tried.

WeePhone also allows you to type in a full sip: URI (just double tap on the area where the number displays and you get a pop-up keyboard).

admin August 8, 2009 at 2:07 pm

@enrique thanks for the information. I agree about the screen off or much dimmed when the phone is up to your ear. Of course that matters less when you are on a Touch. I really should try to conteact the developper of the weephone to ask about the problem.

Have you tried iPico, the one that works well for me?

About the processor issue, it may be a problem, but some apps work, others have problems on the same unit. That means that if it’s the CPU it is still in the programming to make it work efficiently.

Steve Perich August 9, 2009 at 8:33 pm

I think you’ll find actually that the 2nd gen iPod touch has a speed bump over the iPhone 3G (not 3GS). Personally I don’t think the distortion was anything to do with your CPU use Randy.

Zach August 10, 2009 at 10:08 am

iSip does actually allow SIP URI dialing… Just tap in the number field and a keyboard pops up…

Enrique Mora August 10, 2009 at 10:33 am

Havent tried iPico yet and I possibly wont because it looks like the WeePhone has me covered. I’ve been using it flawlessly since you mentioned it last week.

Thanks again for the tip.

James Body August 10, 2009 at 6:04 pm

Why do you not include Truphone and Fring in your review? Both operate SIP VoIP and both are free downloads!

admin August 10, 2009 at 9:42 pm

Hi James,

Haven’t tried Truphone yet. I tried but I didn’t love Fring. I think (and may be wrong) that Fring does too much I don’t want. I may give it another look but for now I want a multiple account SIP client, period.

Rob Wolpov August 11, 2009 at 2:40 pm

We have been working with the iSIP team for a while now. They have a nice start and I expect they will work out the audio issues as previous versions had the audio just fine. We have a quick review of the latest iSIP release and will continue to report on progress with iSIP and other clients as they arise. We were happy to see a few things:

– Support for multiple SIP accounts
– No need to sign up for an account
– No proxy between the SIP client and the service provider.

We are particularly excited because it supports:

– OnSIP extension dialing
– sip address dialing

admin August 11, 2009 at 3:02 pm

@Rob, glad to hear from you. iSip and OnSip are an unbeatable combo. iSip has sent me an ad hoc version that fixed the audio issue. Their problem is that they fixed the bug and are waiting, have been waiting two weeks for Apple to approve the fix!

I’m happy with the fact that there are already 3 pretty good SIP clients for the iPod Touch. Each is a little different but they all now work. A few people have commented to me on Twitter about proxy issues. I hope to get them to talk to us on the VUC and air these for discussion.

admin August 15, 2009 at 8:29 pm

Another few dollars spent on yet another SIP client:

Acrobits Softphone: http://bit.ly/acrobits

It has multiple SIP accounts, call recording, a lot of good options. The audio seems to work well in my tests to myself. I was having some dropped calls issues, but that looks like it was a Google Voice or Gizmo problem. A Sipgate to Sipgate call was excellent. I need to test this on a long call to my brother the call quality commenter and see if he says anything. In the meantime, I’m liking this client about as much as iSip.

Greg Hamburg September 9, 2009 at 10:06 pm

Voipswitch now has a mobile soft phone for the Iphone and Ipod. It is amazing!

Please contact greg@voipswitch.com for more info and a demo.

luke September 21, 2009 at 12:01 am

Check out the OFone under the app store from apple its free. its made by mailvision ltd. supports voip sip for iphone and second generation ipod touch.

Zeeek/Randulo September 21, 2009 at 12:46 pm

Ofone is indeed a free app. Unfortunately it only works with o-fone.com, limiting its usefulness. A lot iPhone/iPod Touch dialers and SIP clients out there use particular networks, but what we talk about here will work with any SIP provider.

Zeeek/Randulo September 21, 2009 at 12:47 pm

Still waiting for this to be approved by Apple, I think. I don’t test unapproved apps, simple because I don’t want to jailbreak the iPod and deal with updates.

Jack September 28, 2009 at 11:22 am

admin :
Hi James,
Haven’t tried Truphone yet. I tried but I didn’t love Fring. I think (and may be wrong) that Fring does too much I don’t want. I may give it another look but for now I want a multiple account SIP client, period.

I tried Truphone as well as Vopium the good thing I found in Vopium is that it supports more than 900 mobile devices with the mobile Sync feature

Tete October 21, 2009 at 11:32 pm

In my opinion, Media5-fone has passed iPico as the best VOIP client for iPhone.
Audio quality is still a tiny, tiny bit better on iPico, but Media5 supports aLaw codec and its configuration menu is much better. The way iPico forces users to fill in all fields (for example Proxy) is just example of very very bad usability. The promised advanced upgrade should appear soon (should have done that at the end of September), so we will see if those issues are corrected.

kmand January 1, 2010 at 10:19 pm

I’m using a ipod touch with a small “button” style microphone and the internal speaker. I have yet to find a voip app that does echo cancellation sufficiently to make this useable. I haven’t tried media5 which claims to do echo cancellation, but have tried Siphon which also claims it but doesn’t achieve it.

Does anyone have any positive experience with this issue.

Steve Perich April 6, 2010 at 11:35 am

Slightly OT but I noticed last week when I was connected to the Voipathong (see http://www.voipusersconference.org) via Skype – then heard myself later on the recording – that my Etymotic hf2 headset with inbuilt mic sounded fantastic! I was connected via the Skype interconnect to Talkshoe so it was narrowband but still the sound was fantastic. So I can only imagine what it sounds like in wideband..

Randulo Zeeek May 28, 2010 at 7:44 am

See the session on Media5-fone, it’s a newer SIP client and does g722 wideband so it works with VUC!

Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post: