Truphone, the VoIP provider for Nokia Series 60 devices with decent connectivity, has added presence to its offering, as well as making it work over 3G networks - where the operator allows it, of course.
Truphone has been one of the most voracious critics of network operators trying to exclude VoIP from their data services, or even disabling the function on handsets, because unlike the competition Truphone is aimed at non-technical customers so needs to be tightly integrated into the normal phone experience.
The new features demonstrate that, with users now being offered Truphone as an option to send an SMS, in just the same way as that option already appears when they make a phone call. A presence service moves contacts in to, and out of, address-book groups when they are connected to the Truphone service (and thus can be contacted for free). The intention is to allow contacts to know which profile a user has selected (silent, meeting, etc.), but for the moment you can only tell if someone is there or not.
The software is much better at noticing, and connecting to, Wi-Fi networks - certainly faster than the last version, and it will now work with 3G networks too.
Other VoIP clients, such as Fring and Skype, have long worked over 3G, but Truphone was limited to Wi-Fi to keep things simple and avoid the data charges (ironically, the simplicity argument is put forward by Vodafone as an excuse to remove the VoIP capability from the Nokia N95, at least in the UK). Customers with unmetered data have asked for 3G compatibility, and version 3 supplies that at the cost of some simplicity in connection management.
The tight integration of the Truphone client with the Series 60 applications; address book, dialler and messaging, is a demonstration of what is possible with an open phone OS, and a stark reminder of the kind of thing which will be impossible (at least from a third party) on Apple's iPhone. Users would have trouble identifying where a manufacturer's application ends and Truphone starts, which is perhaps just what Apple wants to avoid.
Version 3 of the Truphone client is available as beta now, with a couple of known bugs. Full release is expected this week. ®