Price: free Download on the App Store
People who are on Facebook (ie: everyone) have become adept at managing an ever-growing list of friends and contacts. But what happens to your contacts when you leave Facebook? Those with an iPhone can use apps to access their Facebook friends and sync profile photos with contact pics, update email addresses or handle other basic contact management tasks. And now, KipCall wants Facebook users to take their contact list to the next level. Rather than just contact management, the app also allows users to make free phone calls and send email to Facebook friends.
Here's how the developer describes KipCall:
KipCall is an application that lets you call your Facebook friends without exchanging phone numbers. It is nothing short of bringing call functionality to Facebook. The innovation is using Facebook instead of phone numbers to give you control over who can call you. You decide at anytime to block or allow friends.
In the short term, KipCall will change the way people keep in touch. In the long term, it will kill exchanging phone numbers which is meant to die anyway. We don’t want to change voice communication. We want to adapt it to make it better.
The application is easy to use and free to download. Start by connecting to Facebook and giving KipCall permission to access your account. Then, enter the phone number and email address that you want to use with KipCall. Don't worry, your phone number and email address won't be publicly displayed. This extra layer of privacy is one of the main reasons to use KipCall for connecting with "contacts" who may not be "friends." It's a great way to talk by phone without exchanging personal information.
Now is also a good time to decide if you want to let KipCall send you push notifications.
When you open the app, all of your Facebook contacts are displayed, however, only friends who have KipCall installed on their iPhone can be contacted. Tap any contact to access more information. KipCall displays the user's profile pic, age, gender and relationship status. Below that are four simple buttons: place a call; block the user from contacting you; post a KipCall invite to your friend's wall; and send email. The tasks are pretty self-explanatory and work just like you would expect.
Once your friends have installed the app, you can access a separate tab that lists your KipCall friends which makes it quicker to sort through the people you can actually contact. There is also a filter that allows for sorting contacts based on relationship status, age, gender and location. The location feature is based on which contacts are nearby "now" rather than the information listed on their Facebook account, so it requires location-based services to be enabled.
For an app that makes free phone calls, the big question is always about call quality. In my testing, calls through KipCall were indistinguishable from calls made using the built-in phone. My calls were crystal clear and quickly connected. Both I and the other caller were on WiFi connections, but it's good to know that neither WiFi nor 3G services are required to phone a friend using KipCall. Which isn't to say that this app is perfect.
KipCall is limited to 20 minutes of outgoing calls per day. Most users will never notice this limitation, but be aware. The other caveat is the limited call area — currently North America. For a free app, these limitations aren't too much of a hinderance, but it would be nice to have the option to pay for upgraded features. KipCall 1.5 will be out soon, so fingers crossed!
For the application to be successful, both Facebook friends will need to be using KipCall in order to connect. It's simple to invite a friend to download and use the app, the drawback is that some people are reluctant to download these type of apps. (I still have friends of who ask "what's Skype?") The more friends who are using KipCall, the more useful the app becomes. So, help get the word out! You can open the options menu to send a tweet about KipCall or share a message about it on Facebook.
If your friends will play along, KipCall is a simple way to communicate with your Facebook contacts.