As a Bay Area native, I’ve grown up being around more than my fair share of “the next big thing” apps, many of which involve some sort of interaction with strangers.
I love meeting new people, but I don’t necessarily love the idea of handing out my cell phone number to all of these people. Many of these apps have a place to exchange instant messages within the app, but what about when I need to hop on a quick phone call?
Why isn’t in-app calling as mainstream as in-app messaging?
Here are some apps I use, where I personally feel a need for in-app calling features, and some potential great app ideas for you to use.
I rent my couch on Airbnb, and I have also used Airbnb as a guest while traveling in other countries. As a host, there is a lot of communication between me and a guest, but I don’t usually want that conversation to continue after the stay is over. For example, I exchanged 2 calls with each of my last two guests. As a guest in other countries, it’s really expensive for me to call the host from my phone and tell them that I’m nearby. I would much rather stop into a coffee shop with free wifi, and be able to call them for free within the app to say that I’ll be there in a few minutes.
Fairly self explanatory. Meet someone for a drink. They seem nice. Exchange numbers. Receive drunk calls from them at 2 am on a Friday night. Regret exchanging numbers. With the calling in-app, stopping those unwanted calls is as easy as un-matching with someone.
When flying with SAS, their app is fantastic for iPhone with passbook integration and bringing the whole check-in experience to mobile. But one thing that is still missing is a calling feature. Read more about the how SAS could add in app customer service here.
It’s 2015; do I really need to list my phone number publicly on Craigslist? I tried to sublet a fairly cheap apartment last year, and had 20+ people trying to call me. It was a huge distraction for a few days even after I took down the listing. I should be able to accept calls within the Craigslist app, and it should not let people call me any more once I’ve deleted the listing.
My apartment building spans an entire block, and the delivery person and I can’t find each other. A quick call is the easiest way to solve things so I can eat my meal while it’s still hot, and they can move onto their next delivery.
Scenario: I write a draft of this post and want feedback from a coworker who doesn’t work in the same office as me. If I email him the draft, it will take a few days of emails back and forth before we decide on the final edits. If I could call him from within the app, and we could both view, discuss, and edit the note at the same time, and that would save at least a few hours of time!
Sometimes it’s just too complicated to understand the answer to a question just by seeing words written on a forum. Personally, it helps to have someone talk me through difficult concepts. Here is a great app idea! What if a professor could set up “office hours,” where students can pay a small fee to call and ask them questions? In addition, if a student pays for 15 minutes of time, the Coursera app can automatically terminate the call after 15 minutes as to not waste the professor’s time.
Listed above are all great benefits for the users, but what about the for the companies? In-app calling provides 2 great things for these apps: information about their users and a way to monetize. Airbnb could find out if there is any correlation between the amount of phone calls between host and guest, and the guest’s overall experience. Coursera could monetize by selling “office hours” with professors. The possibilities are endless. Within a few years, I predict that in-app calling will be as mainstream as in-app messaging.
The best part about all of this? Sinch makes it incredibly easy to add calling to your apps. Here’s how to make a call with our Android SDK:
CallClient callClient = sinchClient.getCallClient();
Call call = callClient.callUser(“John”);
…and with our iOS SDK:
id callClient = [sinchClient callClient];
Sinch in-app calling can be as simple or as customized as you want. Play an interesting ringtone, display the phone call in a way that allows users to browse while they talk, or automatically hang up the call after a certain amount of time. It only takes a few minutes to set up. If you’re interested in checking it out, I urge you to:
If you have any questions at all, shoot an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, and we’ll reply promptly!
Take a look at our great app ideas category on our blog.
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