Ever thought what a waste it is to have mobile phone reception and to be using up a perfectly good battery when you could just as well be making use of the less demanding wireless connection? Kineto Wireless provides just such a useful add-on that’s currently on offer on the Orange network and that comes preinstalled on the LG Optimus One Android phone.
Kineto Signal Boost makes use of the smartphone’s ability to automatically log on to a home or office Wi-Fi network and to route calls over the wireless network. In locations where the cellular connection on the mobile phone is poor, it can be used to conduct clearer conversations. If your mobile phone is prone to battery drain, it also offers the potential to extend its between charge usability.
A number of factors - the handset itself being the main determinant - govern how much battery-boosting benefit can be derived from using the free-to-the-end-user app. However, if your handset settings allow the cellular signal to be switched off manually or automatically while you have Wi-Fi coverage, there should be a noticeable improvement in the battery life.
We trialled the Signal Boost app on the LG Optimus One. To make a call when in range of a wireless network we clicked on the Signal Boost app and clicked a signal option to switch it on. This tells the phone to route the call over Wi-Fi. You can then make a call in the usual way, using the same numbers and contact list information stored on your handset as you would if you were calling them via the cellular network. In this regard, Signal Boost differs from Skype and other VoIP services, which usually require a dedicated number and for call recipients to be using the same VoIP service.
Our tests found the service easy to use, but conversations were slightly tinny and had a short time lag - similar in other words, to making a VoIP call, but with the added benefit of being able to place calls in the same way as a standar cellular call. We also found the call quality dropped as we walked around, even though we had full strength Wi-Fi coverage. Even so, we can see the potential for such a service.
In the case of the Signal Boost app on the Orange network you still need to pay for the cost of the call, so it’s not quite the same as using a VoIP service such as Skype or Vonage on your phone. However, not all operators charge the full mobile to landline or mobile to mobile cost. Kineto’s Keith Munford says it’s possible that some operators will decide to offer the routed-over-Wi-Fi service for free.
At present, the service is available on a handful of devices in the US including two T-Mobile MyTouch models that are similar in design to the Samsung Galaxy S. In the UK it is offered on the Orange LG Optimus One handset. By March, says Munford, the service should be on six Orange handsets. In 2008 Kineto inked a deal with RIM to offer its UMA service on BlackBerry handsets. It is now offered on a range of BlackBerry devices as well as an increasing range of Android handsets.
Kineto also offers a service known as Wi-Fi Calling for Android, primarily on the T-Mobile network, but also on the Motorola DEFY and Motorola Droid handsets in the US. This allows T-Mobile users, for example, to log on to wireless networks outside the T-Mobile service areas to make Wi-Fi calls and to send and receive text messages.