Like phone booths, home-phone landlines would seem to be headed for extinction, as we shift to cellphones, Skype, texting, and the various other forms of digital communications. But cellphones get drowned in toilets and Internet connections go down at the most inopportune times. So it’s still good to have a landline, even if you rarely use it.
Making old technology more useful might be one of the themes of a device from Swissvoice. The company sells a small box that lets you use your iPhone to make and receive calls over your existing landline — and it’s extremely easy to set up.
About the size of an Apple TV, the device connects to your router and phone jack. You then download a small program, Voice Bridge, from the Apple App Store and let it discover the box over your Wi-Fi network. The whole process took me about ten minutes (at a leisurely pace).
Voice Bridge can use your phone’s Contacts list for making calls. Select the recipient and the app asks whether you want to use a cell connection or the landline. Sound quality seemed good, though it will probably depend on the level of you Wi-Fi signal — as is range.
When receiving calls, you phone makes a distinctive ring and a message pops up in the Notification Center. You tap the message, and Voice Bridge opens up. The onscreen buttons are big, so the app is easy to use even when you’ve left you glasses somewhere.
The Voice Bridge kit (site) costs $99 on Amazon. I’ll grant you that’s not cheap, but if you want to get more use out of the landline you’re already paying for, the gadget is probably worth it — especially if you live in a house that sits squarely in a cellular dead zone.