Twitter users will soon be able to make short phone calls for free directly through the micro-blogging service. JaJah, an Internet telephony company that allows you to make VoIP calls using your landline or cell phone, today is launching the beta version of its new Twitter calling service, named @call.
Jajah says its service will work whether you're using Twitter directly via its site or are logged on using a third-party client like Seesmic. Jajah says you'll even be able to make calls when using Twitter clients like Tweetie and TwitterBerry on your smartphone.
How it works
To place a call via Twitter, you and the person you are calling must be Twitter users and Jajah users (you can sign up for both services for free). The person you want to call must be following you on Twitter, and you both have to sign up for the @call beta.
Let's say someone I follow wanted to call me using Twitter. All they would have to do is type into their Twitter client '@call @ianpaul' and Jajah would connect us for a free, two-minute call using the voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP). At launch, @call will connect only to U.S. numbers.
Jajah says it is keeping phone calls to two minutes, because that amount of time is the "equivalent of a verbal tweet." Jajah says your phone number will never be revealed when using @call.
Jajah's new service sounds intriguing, but I wonder how cell phone carriers will react to this news. The iPhone, for example, forbids VoIP calls using AT&T's 3G network. To get around this, Jajah has offered a Web application for the iPhone for some time. Now, however, making a VoIP call will be as easy as sending a tweet.
I also wonder how useful this service will be. Most people you actually want to speak to can already contact you through a variety of ways such as Skype, Google Chat, MSN Messenger, or even Jajah. The new @call program lets any of the hundreds, or in some cases thousands, of people you follow on Twitter to give you a call. Is that something you really want, or need? Let me know in the comments if you plan on trying the new service.
Ian Paul doesn't plan on using @call, but you can still connect with him on Twitter (@ianpaul).