Though VoIP services, including Skype and Google Talk, have made calling simpler and less costly in recent years, the quality of calls often leaves something to be desired.
Imagine how much easier it would have been years ago if we were able to simply call someone on Facebook with the same quality signal. Why should anyone have to be tied to a phone number?
Equally, why must it be a pain for businesses and individuals to set up conference calls? At the moment, the process involves a lot of trial and error involving special PINs and codes, and it can be costly for long-distance calls. Why not connect through the click of a button?
Enter SocialDial and CrowdCall, two applications that make calling more polished and simple. This week here at MobiSights we met with their Co-founder and President, Jing Zhao, who introduced the app to us while indicating their plans to come to China.
So what’s the big deal?
Probably the most interesting tidbit that sets their applications apart from the competition is the fact that they work through conventional carriers, providing better-than-VoIP quality calls while maintaining the same price as a local call.
How this works is remarkably simple. Their app Social Dial requires no phone number details – perhaps useful for facilitating contact between wary new acquaintances – and the call is automatically directed as if it were a local call – provided that the phone in question is connected to GPS. By adding several Facebook and Linkedin contacts to the program, users can connect with a friend or several friends at once.
Signing up is free, and friends who haven’t joined will receive an invitation message on their Facebook or LinkedIn accounts. By calling automatically assigned temporary numbers on SocialDial’s servers, the program connects users to friends without ever revealing phone numbers. This maintains the quality of the carrier service, avoids long-distance calls, and allows for a degree of privacy between newly acquainted people.
Given the utility of being able to call several people at once with SocialDial with no long distance charges and PIN numbers, the team at SocialDial then decided to streamline the process by creating CrowdCall, a new platform that makes conference calls stupidly easy. By adding the people you want to call (by phone number this time) into the application, at the click of a button the program calls all of them at once.
The program only requires one hosting user for everything to function, and it is entirely free. Though it asks users to download CrowdCall after the call, which is a slight annoyance, the app is going to spread like wildfire, as it is too good to pass up a one-button solution to conference calls.
Though SocialDial as an application is useful when users do not have the phone number of the other person, it is hard to imagine what the utility will be after the initial contact is made and the users decide to share their phone numbers. In the long term, unless a new type of value is added to SocialDial, CrowdCall will probably have a better chance of catching interest. Competition with UberConference will probably be formidable, who won last week’s Disrupt NYC challenge.
Nevertheless, they have a great set of ideas, and it should be exciting to see how they progress. SocialDial’s applications are already available for both Apple and Android products. Jing Zhao works along with Co-founders Buck French – Founder of Onlink Technologies – and Randy Adams – serial entrepreneur and founder of Funny or Die. They have received investment from Michael Arrington, and it looks like they will soon be working to change the way people call on a fundamental level. They hope to bring their applications to China and to expand operations in the near future.