Android Smartphones Get VOIP Apps from Fring, CounterPath

Look out, Skype! Fring and CounterPath each introduce VOIP apps for Android phones - FringOut for consumers and CounterPath's Bria Android Edition for the enterprise.

Skype fans with Android-running smartphones now have two new VOIP (voice over IP) options that expand the features and options of that popular app and may give it a run for its, err ... savings.

New from VOIP company Fring is FringOut-an app that lets Fring users, of course, place free calls, video calls and live chats to other Fring users, but now also 1-cent-per-minute calls to non Fring users over their choice of WiFi, 3G or 4G. And that's to users in the United States or anywhere around the world.

According to Fring, there are no extra fees, no taxes and no operator minutes used-it's straight-up data calling. Users can also choose to call with SIP (Session Initiation Protocol).

To download FringOut, visit the Fring site and scan this bar code; point a phone's browser to and download it manually. In addition, smartphone users can download the app from the Android Market.

(iPhone users, if you haven't stopped reading already, in July Fring also released an app for the iPhone 4 that enables two-way calling over WiFi or 3G.)

Are you an early Android-adopting enterprise user? On Oct. 4, CounterPath-which already offers a Bria iPhone Edition for the iPhone and iPod Touch-introduced an enterprise-grade VOIP app for Android smartphones that's set to arrive at the end of October.

Bria Android Edition, for smartphones running Android 2.1 or higher, supports any SIP-compliant server as well as multitasking, enabling users to field incoming calls while using other applications. There are also PBX-style options such as call holding, forwarding, rejecting, merging and splitting, as well as attended and unattended transfers.

The features list goes on. There are a call history pane that shows dialed, answered and missed calls; security settings, including audio encryption; easy integration of user contacts; and customized branding features for graphic assets and SIP settings. The app also integrated with enterprise infrastructure from popular vendors such as Alcatel-Lucent, Ericsson, Avaya and Cisco.

"With 17 percent of the global smartphone market at the end of second quarter 2010, up from 2 percent one year earlier, Android has quickly established itself as a major force in both the consumer and enterprise markets," Todd Carothers, CounterPath's vice president of product management, said in a statement.

"With Bria Android Edition, enterprises, government agencies and other commercial users now can extend their VOIP savings and productivity to the mobile environment-quickly and cost-effectively."