Apple Ipod as a PhoneYou can use the Apple iPod as a Phone! I recently picked up an Apple iPod Touch from the Apple store in Las Vegas , Nevada. I had wandered into the store and was browsing some of the products when I was approached by one of the many sales people. I have to say that I am a solid PC user and do not know much about Apple’s products. I was intrigued by the number of customers in the store and everyone seemed to be animated and having a great time collaborating over some project they were working on. Perhaps Apple was running a special collaboration project, but I have never seen this in a PC store. I wanted to have a look at the new iPad which is what brought me into the store in the first place, however they did not have a model to show me so I was disappointed in this area.

Apple Sales People are Good At What they Do

Being a good salesperson, the person I spoke to started querying me about what I was looking for and we then had a conversation about how I might be interested in the iPod Touch.  What I was really looking for was an iPhone without the ATT voice and data plan. He quickly informed me that he could not sell me an iPhone, since it must be sold with an activated ATT plan and that I must also have a US address. I told him I wanted to make phone calls using the iPhone using Skype, browse the internet and check on email. His solution was the iPod Touch which can use WiFi connections to connect with the internet and do all the things that I was looking for. The main application I really wanted was Skype which there is an application for that can easily be installed on the iPod Touch free. I will digress and explain a bit about Skype , however this sold me in the iPod Touch right there. Now I do not need to lug my lap top around looking for a WiFi connection when I want to read email or make a few calls while traveling. Another huge advantage is that I can amuse myself while shopping with my wife by listening to the radio, music or reading news and email as long as there is a WiFi network around which there seems to be ample.

Apple iPod as a Phone – Skype

Skype is an emerging VoIP carrier that provides a free application to install on your PC or in my case the iPod Touch. Once installed, you create an account which is also free and you are ready to go. All of this can be done in about 15 minutes. Once installed, you can talk to any other Skype user for free over the internet as long as they also have Skype installed on their computer. You will need a microphone and it is also nice to have a built in camera as well since you can also do video calls with Skype all at no cost to the user as long as you are calling another Skype user.  Skype makes its money when you call outside of the IP network to a traditional phone or cell phone. Rates are typically 2 cents a minute or less. In order to make these kinds of calls you will need to add some money to your account which can easily be done if you have a Paypal account.

Once Skype was installed on my iPod Touch, I quickly signed in and was ready to make calls to all of my listed contacts. Note that you must be near a WiFi network for the iPod Touch to be able to access the internet and your Skype account. Skype worked just like it does on my PC with free calls to other Skype users and paid calls to cell phone users as well as traditional phone users.

The Apple sales person told me that the iPod Touch is exactly like the iPhone without the phone application installed.  What this really means is that there is no microphone installed and there is not a good ear piece.  Although you can hear sounds through a tiny speaker it is not sufficient for listening to music of other voice sounds. Instead you must use ear buds and a microphone chord which is then plugged into the iPod Touch. The quality is excellent and I have used the Skype application installed on the iPod Touch to make several calls to friends and family. In fact they have told me that the connection is better than when they have talked to me over my computer.

No Data Plan

I am still experimenting with adding app’s to the iPod Touch, however so far I have reviewed all of my emails, read the news using Google reader, checked on the weather, checked on the markets and followed some stocks that I am interested in with Yahoo. All of this may seem trivial to Apple users, however having the convenience of being able to do this with a small device like the iPod, without having to subscribe to a data plan from one of the carriers is a major advantage for me.

There seems to be WiFi networks around wherever we go. I did not realize just how many were available, since I did not always carry my heavy laptop around with me. All of the people with iPhones, Blackberries and other smart phones can access the internet and do all of the things that I just mentioned. However they are tied to a data plan which is a major disadvantage in my books when you can access the internet using WiFi for free!  Also you must be wondering why I chose to include this article in this blog under indoor coverage. Well most WiFi connections are indoor only. If you have a wireless network set up for home use, you can use the iPod touch at home as well while watching TV or whatever to finish up a few emails etc without having your lap top perched on your lap!

For more about iPod touch and smart phones, click here.

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