RingPlus Launches In-Call Mobile Voice Apps

RingPlus, a no-cost, ad-supported cell service provider using the Sprint mobile network, late last week launched its cloud-based In-Call App platform, which allows real applications to live inside normal cell phone calls. To access the apps, RingPlus subscribers do not need to launch separate apps on their phones, download anything, or dial special numbers.

"All the calls come through our servers, and the apps live on those servers," explains Evan McGee, chief technology officer at RingPlus.

According to McGee, placing the apps on the network level allows them to leverage bandwidth and computational power that isn't available with traditional smartphone apps.

Users activate the apps by dialing ** on their phones.

Some of the applications available to all RingPlus members now include the following:

  • Recall: On-demand recording of any phone call with full text transcription. After the call, Recall will send an email with the recording and a full-text, time-stamped, and searchable transcript of the telephone conversation.
  • Phone Booth: The phone booth application, paired with RingPlus' industry-low international rates, completely replaces the need to use a traditional international calling card. Prior to any international call, Phone Booth asks the member how much money they would like to budget for the call. Once the call reaches the allowed balance Phone Booth will whisper a warning and then, one minute later, disconnect the call.
  • Cloud Translator: Allows the member to translate back and forth between many languages inside the call, in real time. The cloud translator currently supports 19 languages, with more being added each month. A few of the languages currently supported include Spanish, Japanese, Arabic, Russian, Mandarin, French, Italian, Thai, German, and Swedish. This translation technology is also being extended to RingPlus Voicemail, which will allow people to leave voicemails in any language and have the automatic transcript translated into their native language.

The company is also beta testing an in-call virtual assistant named Asha. Using natural speech understanding, the RingPlus subscriber can engage any in-call applicationsjust by speaking the name of the application to activate it during the call. Asha can perform a variety of tasks, including adding a third party to the call, checking the current account balance, and integrating with other RingPlus offerings, such as Mixcess and RingPlus Radio. Future versions will also tie in additional social networking and social calling features.

McGee says a lot of attention and effort went into creating the apps, which are available to all subscribers, even those without smartphones. To subscribe, however, users will need to have phones that can run on the Sprint network. The apps were created by RingPlus and are proprietary to its network and subscriober base, which currently numbers in the tens of thousands nationwide, McGee says.

Currently, subscribers pay 45 cents per miniute for the translation and recording apps; RingPlus is hoping to bring those costs down, according to McGee.

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