updated 12:15 pm EDT, Tue April 29, 2008
AOL intros Open Voice APIs
On Tuesday, AOL introduced Open Voice Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) that could bring mainstream VoIP a step closer to cell phone use. The APIs would endow third-party developers and VoIP device makers with open standards that would in turn allow them to integrate AOL Instant Messenger's Call Out service into softphones, SIP-enabled hardware and even Wi-Fi enabled cell phones. This would allow cell phone users to make low-cost voice calls via AIM's Call Out service, which would relay them via the Internet instead of the traditional phone network.
The AOL Developer Network is responsible for the undertaking, which would drastically reduce costs of long-distance calls thanks to AIM's Call Out service. Call Out can either be used on a pay-as-you-go basis or on a monthly term and allows users to call landlines or cell phones in over 200 countries. Credits for Aim Call Out can be purchased in minimum increments of $5, with per-minute rates to various countries ranging from fractions of a cent per minute to less than 20 cents per minute.
Some of the limitations of Call Out include no PC-to-PC calling support or call records and user preferences access.
The opening of AOL's protocols may face resistance from cellular service providers, many of whom block or discourage the use of VoIP calling systems on their networks to push customers into accepting both data and voice plans. Apple has warned developers that the iPhone will only support VoIP calling to real numbers over Wi-Fi, which avoids passing off bandwidth and associated costs to AT&T.