W20160310-SV

Turning an iPhone into a landline handset

14 comments

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.

14 Comments

  1. Vivien

    Hmmmm.... I'm not very techno friendly but this may also relieve me of the appalling sound quality on my BT line if it's using wifi?

    • Andy Clift

      Surely it is still using your BT line. This is just a wi fi link to the phone line

      • Andy Clift

        More info. To use this I buy yet another box to find space for, connect it to my wi-fi plus my home phone line. All it does is allow me to make calls on my BT account using my iPhone. Another solution is what I do now. I just run the free BT app on my iPhone and use it to make phone calls over wi-fi on my BT account. All I lose is the ability to answer land line calls with my iPhone but as I get about three calls a year on my end line it's hardly worth spending the money

  2. Paddy Lavelle

    Orange in France already have an iOs app linking to their router that does the same thing as you have described at no cost.

  3. Millard Kinkead

    How about a device that will allow you to use the wiring and jacks of your discontinued landline?

  4. avesraggiana

    Why on Earth would you want to do this?! Audio and voice quality on an iPhone is so appallingly low that they render speaking on it almost intolerable. Mobile phones are universally inadequate to the task of being used as a phone. Better to keep your landline and the old fashioned, real telephone set that came with it.

    • Ellen

      I read this and I'm still unsure what the purpose is. Why would I want my landline connected to my mobile phone? As it is my "landline" is thru my modem on TWC. My iphone is with a different company and sometimes that is a good thing. I have my home phone set up so that when I receive a call on my home phone it rings on my cell phone. What I would really like is something I used to get (before modems) where I had a special ring for my fax machine and a separate number for my fax machine.. there was not extra cost, but when I hooked up with TWC and left Frontier I lost that convenience.

  5. simon

    landlines don't emit any radiation, provide a better audio performance overall. Actually landline is still the "cadillac" of phone communication. Much better if your landline is without using wireless. I'm an it worker, i have had all these iphones, galaxys and while they're unbeatable in a car for phone calls there's no comparison in the house, i'm sorry. So less there's waves in your place better you'll feel potentially. Most of the time i even use cabled computers instead of wi-fi: my macbook pro is most of the time wired to my network. Why people like me would buy that useless thing..... No the landline is far from being at its decline......it's actually getting better.

    • avesraggiana

      The Cadillac. I totally agree. I still have my old fashioned, somewhat heavy, rotary dial phone. It’s not even a “slimline” but one even older. Sadly, after I got my house rewired for a combined landline, cable TV, internet and wifi, something was done to the phone jacks to make this wonderful old phone unusable. A pity, really, because I loved the clear, crisp and warm audio quality that came out of that phone ear piece.

      • Graeme Bregani

        I found an adapter jack that connected my older larger phone jack to the newer smaller connection now used. Perhaps you too may find this?

        • avesraggiana

          Thanks! I’ll research that.

  6. Hector

    I thought that this would be really useful. Then I looked at the reviews on Amazon UK. Oh dear 1 star and worse. Best give it a miss I've decided.

  7. Graeme Bregani

    So, for another $100, I can replace the $30 handset I already have. Clearly a 'first-world' blindness. But, thanks for the morning chuckle.

  8. Albert

    It's a joke, right ? I am not going to pay $99 for something that essentially just forwards land line calls over wifi to my iphone. When the landline rings, I just pick up one of the handsets. My setup is this: I am getting landline phone service from my ADSL provider already, and all the phones are DECT, so all ring when a landline call comes in. There's always one within a few steps reach ...