Softphones That Suck

, Sep 4, 2004


Thanks to one of my favorite business partners, I now have a US phone number — which is pretty neat, considering I’m in Germany. The way this is done is via Vonage, who offer voice over IP with both hardware and software options. I am using the softphone they offer, which is called X-Pro and is produced by a company called Xten.

Now, the cool thing is that this works absolutely great — the sound quality is excellent, and provided my computer and the X-Pro software is up and running, you can call me from any other Vonage phone or locally for free, or at least pay only the US national cost instead of having to pay for an international call. My iPod’s headphones are enough to kill any sort of echo, and it’s really, really great.

But what is totally sick is the pseudo-slick UI you see to your left. I simply can’t seem to figure out why anybody would want to map the crude, limited interface of a phone, including its amazing 380x280 resolution, to a real computer. Don’t I have enough screen estate for the buttons to have labels? How about actually making use of the fact that there are real UI widgets here — you know, those fancy things like list boxes and menus and drop-down lists and edit controls and all of that? The Winamp folks who IIRC started this madness deserve a good kick for this. Utterly ridiculous.

If you happen to know a SIP phone application for Mac OS X that actually looks and works like an application, I’d be thankful for any pointers.