Vonage adds mobile video, 8x8 upgrades its desktop

Two items today: Vonage announced earlier this month that it has released a new video calling feature from Vonage Mobile, while 8x8 has enhanced its virtual office business phone service with a new native desktop application.

8x8's new Virtual Office Desktop softphone application provides the same functionality as its Virtual Office Online browser application in a more robust native Windows and Mac application, according to the company. The features integrate a business softphone with one-on-one video calling and Web and video conferencing, along with visual voicemail. 8x8's update also includes enterprise-grade IM (instant messaging) and presence along with fax, and social media feed.

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As a native Windows and Mac app, Virtual Office Desktop automatically launches when the computer starts, showing system alerts or screen pops in the foreground when incoming calls, IMs and faxes are received. Calls can ring both a headset and the computer speakers in case the user has temporarily put down his or her headset. Other enhancements include a simplified user interface and improved call quality with native support for advanced speech codecs on Windows, even with low bandwidth connections.

Commenting in a statement, 8x8 Senior Product Manager Phillip Liu said, "While customers appreciate the convenience of quickly accessing 8x8's unified communications app through any web browser, our most dedicated users wanted the absolute best call quality and user experience which can only be delivered through a native Windows or Mac application. I'm proud of the work our engineers and designers did to integrate so much capability in an easy-to-use app that's designed for continuous use throughout the workday."

In other news, Vonage Mobile now offers video calling for Android users. The feature provides free two-way in-app video calls over Wi-Fi or 3G/4G between Vonage Mobile users. Vonage Mobile also enables the ability to switch from video to voice-only (and vice versa.) The updated version of the app also checks address books to see other users in the caller's network to facilitate video chat. As with other video services, data rates may apply when using the service.

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