Internet phones, webphones, browser-based phones. These phrases all reference the same phenomenon: phones that operate right within your internet browser.
By some measures, webphones are just as capable as their desk bound counterparts. Many webphones can call the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) and offer basic phone features - such as call holding and call conferencing. A handful of webphones offer both voice and video calling, as well.
Here are six webphones that can serve as potential replacements for your deskphone.
The OnSIP Desktop App
The OnSIP desktop app runs on Mac, Windows, Chrome, and Firefox. Unlike the other phones on this list, the OnSIP desktop app does not require any downloads or plugins to operate, if you use it in Chrome or Firefox web browsers. It can make voice or video calls at the click of a button. The desktop app can call the PSTN, extension dial, make SIP-to-SIP calls, and engage in video calls with compatible devices. The OnSIP desktop app comes free with OnSIP. Customers are charged 3.2 cents per minute for PSTN calls. (If you need a softphone app for your smartphone, check out OnSIP's mobile app.)
The OnSIP desktop app is designed as a call center solution, and it's built to act as a replacement for a deskphone. Sales and support staff can utilize its calling and monitoring capabilities to close deals and assist customers. And workers on-the-go can log into the app to utilize your office's OnSIP phone system. For instance, an employee stranded at the airport can hop on the WiFi network and make calls directly from a browser window on his or her laptop. Also, the added video call feature allows employees to interact with customers using visual cues and demonstrable examples.
FireRTC is the way to go if you want free calling. It runs right within your browser via WebRTC, so you don't have to worry about installing or buying any unecessary add ons, and it offers free calling to the PSTN in the U.S., Canada, and Puerto Rico. Users are provided with contextual information about the person or business they are speaking with - such as where the caller is located in the world. Unlike the other phones on this list, FireRTC also offers call recording. The phone is available online, and the app is available in the Chrome Web Store.
"With 7 billion members, the telephone network is the oldest, largest, and ironically, the most neglected social network on Earth," said FireRTC Co-founder Keith Larrimore. "New technologies like SIP and WebRTC are facilitating integration of powerful web-based tools with the universal reach of the telephone network."
Zoiper Web is a webphone that can be integrated into your website and web apps. It works with Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari, Chrome, and Opera on Windows. Zoiper Web does not require you to install desktop applications – it discovers your browser and installs the appropriate plugin for you. Zoiper Web allows unlimited concurrent calls and an unlimited number of users. Basic phone options - such as call hold and call transfer - are available.
You might want to license Zoiper if you're looking to embed a fully functioning phone on your website or in your web app. That way, customers can contact you easier, or call you via SIP-to-SIP - which costs less. Or you might just want your app to have PSTN calling capabilities in it. Zoiper licensing starts at $1,081 dollars per deployment.
FluentCloud WebPhone is a Google Chrome add-on that allows you to make and receive voice calls, use SMS text messaging, check voicemails, and read online faxes from a single interface. The addon works for desktop, laptop, and Chromebook computers. FluentCloud WebPhone comes with a paid subscription to FluentStream Technologies - an all inclusive business phone system in the cloud. Pricing for FluentStream Technologies accounts starts at $17.99 per user per month.
FluentCloud's WebPhone is more similar to the OnSIP app than it is to Zoiper, because FluentCloud WebPhone is actually looking to replace the deskphones used in offices. FluentCloud WebPhone allows you to send and receive text messages, and it can also check online faxes - two features the OnSIP app lacks. But unlike the OnSIP app, there are no video call capabilities.
The Mizu Webphone is an add-on that can be embedded into your webpage. It is based on industry standard SIP specifications, and it is compatible with all VoIP devices and services. The Mizu Webphone can call the PSTN via a VoIP company of your choice. Many popular call features are implemented (call forward, call transfer, conference). The Basic package starts at $500 - not including the pricing of whichever VoIP provider you use to power the phone with.
Mizu WebPhone, like Zoiper, is meant to be embedded in webpages and web apps. And it would be deployed for similar reasons - to offer PSTN calling in web apps or to give customers an easy way to make SIP-to-SIP calls that cost far less than calls coming from a landline.
Twilio's Client Browser Softphone allows you to use your web browser to make phone calls. Unlike many of the other phones on this list, Twilio's Browser Softphone is not a business-grade solution - it requires you to install the add-on manually in a terminal window. It is, however, capable of calling the PSTN, extensions, and SIP endpoints. The phone itself is free; calling starts at $0.015 per minute.
Twilio's Browser Softphone is a bare bones webphone that can execute the very basic functions of a deskphone. It has no features whatsoever beyond calling - hold, conferencing, video, and voicemail are all non-existent. But with such inexpensive pricing per minute, Twilio's Browser Softphone might make sense if you're dealing with an enormous amount of calling minutes on the PSTN.