8 Innovative New Open Source Softphones

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Just as VoIP telephony is revolutionising voice communications everywhere, VoIP softphones are becoming a highly popular communication method and among them, open source softphones, due to their low or no cost and extreme versatility.

What is a softphone?

A softphone is the opposite of telephone hardware. Instead of a physical appliance, it is a software program for making phone calls on the Internet. This program can be accessed on a desktop PC, laptop or mobile device, usually via a headset and is designed to behave like a telephone, with a display panel and interactive buttons.

What is open source?

Open source refers to those computer programs where the source code is available to anyone through a free licensing system, which allows them to change and develop that code in any way they want. Open source encourages a culture of freedom and collaboration amongst developers and in the case of VoIP softphones, it has led to a number of innovative new telephony features.

Open source softphones

The following are a few of the many open source softphones now available on the market, some of which are free and some of which are not, but all of which bring something innovative to the table.

QuteCom

1This versatile softphone works on all platforms, including Windows, Mac and Linux and allows the user to make both voice and video calls and also instant message. Started by the French VoIP provider ​Wengo, QuteCom is free to download and use.

Jitsi

2Developed using Java, this open source softphone is also cross-platform and supports popular protocols such as Jabber, ICQ, MSN and Yahoo Messenger. Providing free audio, video and instant messaging, SIP Communicator features desktop streaming, desktop sharing, audio conference calls, call recording, call encryption, noise suppression and echo cancellation.

SFLphone

3This is a softphone developed for Linux that is compatible with both SIP and IAX2 (Asterisk). Developed with the aim of creating a softphone that caters for home users as well as business, the SFLphone supports unlimited calls, multiple accounts and includes call transfer, hold and recording.

Empathy

4This is a messaging program that supports text, voice, video and file transfers over a range of different protocols. It supports popular messaging services such as Jabber, MSN, Facebook, Yahoo and ICQ and notable features include location information sharing, private and group chat, conversation logging and support for collaborative applications.

Ekiga

5Ekiga is a video conferencing and instant messenger application that uses both of the major telephony standards (SIP and H.323). Its many features include support for jitter buffering, echo cancellation, simultaneous account registration, remote and local address book, HD sound quality, DVD size video and telephony features such as call hold, call transfer and call forwarding.

Twinkle

6Twinkle is a softphone that provides audio calls and instant messaging using the SIP protocol. Only available for Linux, its main features include two lines, custom ring tones, call waiting, call hold, three-way conference calling, call redirection, call transfer, do not disturb, auto answer, voice mail speed dial, missed call indication and call history details.

Minisip

7This softphone is SIP compliant and runs on multiple operating systems including Linux, Windows XP and Windows Mobile. It can be used to make audio and video calls and instant message and its main features include multiple lines, multiple simultaneous incoming and outgoing calls, call logging and end-to-end security.

Linphone

8An open source SIP phone that’s available for both desktop and mobiles and supports iOS, Android and Linux, Linphone’s main features include HD audio and video calls, audio conferencing, call transfer, call recording, address book, call history and echo cancellation.

Telephones have come a long way from the old Bakelite handsets and clunky finger-hole diallers. A phone is now little more than a virtual keypad on a computer screen and thanks to open source softphone development, the more insubstantial it becomes, the more amazing the things it will do for us.

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