Sometime in the 1980’s some friends and I were hanging out at a local park when another friend showed up with a “mobile phone.” He had a construction business and thought he needed it. None of us had ever seen one and didn’t think it was a real phone, but more of a walkie-talkie. He offered to let a couple of us try it, quickly, because it cost money every time you made a call. I punched in my home phone number and, amazingly, my wife answered. When I told her I was calling from the park on a mobile phone she figured I was calling from a pay phone and teasing her.
What a difference 20 some years makes. According to the ITU at the end of 2008 there were “over 4 billion mobile cellular subscriptions worldwide.” Along with the explosion of cell phone users has come the development of a myriad of ways to use a cell phone. The following are a few I have come across recently. Back at the park in the 80’s if someone had told us phones would soon be able to do all of these things we would have laughed and figured they had been watching too many Star Trek reruns.
Skype – Download their free software to your computer or phone and you can make calls, instant message and make video calls to other Skype users for free. Additional features are available with a pay as you go plan or a subscription.
Bare Site – This site makes mobile browsing easier by stripping unneeded content from websites. They are webbased, rather than browserbased, so there is no download or installation required.
Trap Call – They offer a blocked call unmasking service. When you reject a blocked or restricted call it is sent to Trap Calls servers, unmasked and sent back to you so you know who is calling. They offer several other plans that provide more options starting from $2.95 to $24.95 per month.
Spoof Card – The same company that provides Trap Call also offers Spoof Card, an app to alter your caller ID, phone number, and even change your voice. Their plans range from $10 for 60 minutes up to $80 for 480 minutes.
Google Voice – According to Google, “Google Voice is a service that gives you one number for all your phones, voicemail that is easy as email, and many enhanced calling features like call blocking and screening, voicemail transcripts, call conferencing, international calls, and more. Google Voice is currently available for GrandCentral users only, but will be open to new users soon.” Enter your email address and they will send you an invitation when they are up and running.
Get Human – Okay, it’s not really a phone application, but it can be very useful. This site is a long list of how to bypass phone systems and talk to a live person. At the time of this writing there are 959 businesses listed.
rminder – Sign up for a free account and you can send and receive up to eight voicemail reminder messages. Plans range from $3 per month for 15 reminders
up to $9 per month for 60 reminders.
Slydial – Want to leave a message for someone but you are not in the mood or don’t have the time to risk actually talking to them? This one is for you. Call Slydial, enter the mobile number you want to leave a message with and they connect you directly to their voicemail. They offer a free, ad-supported plan or several ad free plans you can subscribe to at $2.95 per month, $29.95 per year or a pay per use of ten cents.
Bonus sites: Try Contact Help as another resource if you are looking for hard to find company customer service information. If you want to block your phone number from telemarketers don’t forget the National Do Not Call Registry.