Voice over IP applications for the iPhone are now able to offer calls over cellular networks as both iCall and Fring updated their apps on Thursday to support calls over 3G cellular networks.
Offering VoIP calls over the 3G network was formerly prohibited due to AT&T’s refusal to allow voice data over its network; instead, those applications could only place calls when using the iPhone’s Wi-Fi connection. Last October, AT&T relaxed those restrictions, but despite the change, VoIP applications remained limited to Wi-Fi, presumably due to restrictions still in place by Apple. The approval of these app updates suggests that Apple has now removed that restriction.
iCall’s CEO is quoted in a company press release as saying that the new policy “heralds a new era for VoIP applications on mobile platforms, especially for iCall and our free calling model.” The company’s app allows users to make free, ad-supported calls in addition to registering for a paid account.
Israel-based Fringland, in the meantime, has enabled both audio and video calls over 3G networks in its Fring iPhone app. No update is required to turn on this option—the app should simply pick it up when the user logs in.
Meanwhile, a spokesperson for popular VoIP provider Skype told Macworld that the company has a 3G-enabled version of its iPhone app ready, but is awaiting on clarifications from Apple on whether the new rules apply to its products.
Apple did not return requests for comments on the new rules by press time.