If you go abroad, you may find yourself in a situation where it's difficult to use your phone. Some places have limited cellular coverage and you just can't get your phone to work. Even if you're in a major city where this isn't an issue, you might be dealing with huge roaming charges every time you make a phone call. The good news is that there are apps you can use to overcome these difficulties. One of them is the Talkatone app, brought to you by an innovative VoIP communications provider called Ooma.
Simply put, Talkatone works with most of the latest iOS and Android devices to turn them into a virtual phone. You can use the app on a smartphone, but it will also work on most tablets. It lets you make and receive phone calls, as well as text messages, no matter where you're located. The app just requires an Internet connection to work, so you can use it whenever your phone is connected to a Wi-Fi network. Of course, it will also work on a cellular data connection, but you may incur data roaming charges. What makes this app so attractive is that it can be used without any subscription or per-use fees.
Top Features of the Talkatone App and Service
While there are plenty of other apps offering calling and texting through a data connection, Talkatone works in a unique way. It has many features that make it more attractive than the competition, such as:
Free outbound calling minutes each month - You receive 60 minutes of free outbound calls to North America (US and Canadian phone numbers). If you use up all of your minutes, you can either purchase more at a low price or get some free minutes by completing offers, such as signing up on an advertiser's website or answering a survey. However, you should note that the app doesn't support 911 calls.
Free inbound calls - No minutes are deducted for calls you receive through the app. You can also call toll-free numbers completely free.
Free text messages - You can use Talkatone to send and receive text messages, group texts and picture messages. Universal SMS and MMS is supported with all major American mobile carriers. You can also exchange free text and picture messages with other users of the Talkatone app.
Dedicated phone number for incoming calls - When you start using Talkatone, you receive a dedicated US-based phone number that you can use to receive calls. This is practical not only when you travel and want to avoid roaming charges, but can also be used at home. You can use your Talkatone number as a second phone number for business activities, when selling items on marketplace sites like Craigslist, when meeting new people on dating apps, etc.
Free communications with other Talkatone users - You can call and send text or picture messages to other users of the Talkatone app completely free, no matter where they're located.
Costs of Using Talkatone
The app is free to download and gives each user 60 minutes of free outbound calling to North American phone numbers every month. This should be enough for most people, but if you need more talk time, you can buy 60 additional minutes for just $0.99. It's also possible to earn calling credits by completing free offers within the app.
While it's possible to make calls to outbound international numbers with the Talkatone app, you'll be charged on a per-minute basis. The good news is that the rates are very affordable and only a fraction of what you would normally pay when using your home or mobile phone.
In order to support the service, the app displays rather small banner ads at the bottom of the screen. Unlike with other apps, they don't interfere with the user interface or otherwise inconvenience you. However, if you prefer an ad-free version of the calling app or want to support the developers, you can disable ads throughout the app for a one-time payment of $9.99.
Supported Mobile Devices
Talkatone works flawlessly across a wide range of recent mobile devices running iOS or Android. This includes tablets, smartphones and some media players like the iPod Touch.
When the app was first launched, there were a few complaints about call quality. Some users reported hearing static noise during calls or having to dial a number a few times before it finally connected. As Ooma has made a lot of investments in their calling service, these issues are now largely a thing of the past.
Overall, Talkatone is an excellent app if you want to stay in touch while traveling abroad. As it's free to install and gives you 60 outbound calling minutes to the USA and Canada each month, don't hesitate download it to your mobile device.
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