15 Things You Didn't Know VoIP Could Do

Updated: May 22, 2007



So you've mastered the VoIP basics; you're a pro at call forwarding and filtering, you speed dial with the best of them - you even have a system setup to play music to callers when they're on hold. Yet despite all of these great features you still find yourself wondering if VoIP could do more. The answer is of course, yes, VoIP can do a whole lot more.

Stop limiting yourself to using VoIP like it's a regular telephone. With VoIP you can edit documents in real time, listen to podcasts and even annoy telemarketers. Here's a brief guide listing 15 VoIP tutorials that contain the answers to your most common questions about the abilities of VoIP.




  1. Call Mapping
    Question: How do I know where my incoming calls are coming from?

    Answer: The popular VoIP solution Gizmo has implemented an ingenious feature that allows you to see the geographic location of your connected calls. The software integrates with Google Maps API and displays a map with the location of the parties involved in the call. Next time you're involved in a Gizmo call click on "Map It" and witness this feature for yourself.

  2. Caller ID on TV
    Question: How do I add VoIP to my TV?

    Answer: While switching from a regular landline to VoIP is great on your pocket book, it can be exhausting on the amount of calls you will start to receive, after all what's to keep someone from calling you if it's free? How familiar does this sound: after getting home from a long day at the office, turning the TV on and propping your feet up on the couch to relax, and the phone rings and you answer, "Hi, yes this is John speaking. No thanks I'm not interested." Well thanks to mcePhone, Skype users have the ability to integrate a caller ID system into the TV display, giving you the ultimate caller ID. Instead of missing your favorite shows because you have to pickup the phone, just sit there and relax, and watch the caller ID TV.

  3. Transferring Voice mail to Email
    Question: How do I consolidate my messages?

    Answer: How often do you check your voicemail, once or twice a day (at least?). What about your email, five times a day (or more?). How much time do you waste per work week switching between the two mediums while trying to stay updated? What about when you're away from the office and can't access your voicemail, then what do you do? Absolutely nothing that's what; let VoIP do it for you. Multiple VoIP and IPBX solutions such as Asterisk have devised a way to transfer messages from your voicemail box to your email inbox automatically! To setup this feature at work, check with your technology administrator. If you want voicemail-to-email-forwarding at home, check with your VoIP provider for feature availability.

  4. Call Recording
    Question: How do I record all of my calls?

    Answer: Keeping meticulous records is an important part of every successful business. Recording calls can be used to keep track of a multitude of things including orders, tech support efficiency and for you evil administrators out there: eavesdropping. Most VoIP solutions have a built in recording system, however few measure up to HotRecorder, our call recorder of choice. For more information on your options read, this guide.

  5. Call Encrypting
    Question: How do I protect my call privacy and data?

    Answer: For some odd reason the average consumer has come to the conclusion that since the days of the switch board are over, the telephone (more specifically VoIP telephone) is now a secure, private connection. Unfortunately that couldn't be further from the truth. The advancements in technology have made intercepting and monitoring VoIP calls surprisingly simple. To protect your privacy, personnel assets and company secrets you should be using some form of call encryption. For Skype users you're in luck, your VoIP solution comes with built in encryption! However if you're using a sub-mainstream VoIP service, you should consider trying Zfone. For more information on VoIP encryption, check out this guide.

  6. Document Editing
    Question: How do I collaborate on documents with someone 3,000 miles away?

    Answer: Working with a remote partner or client can be quite a challenge -- trying to visualize expensive budget nuisances or debug a complex programming algorithm in your head isn't very easy. However, getting on a plane and flying a few thousand miles for a half hour meeting isn't always the most practical solution. Lucky for you, there's TalkandWrite, an addon for Skype that allows you to type, draw, erase, point and change anything within the shared document. Once you combine this with a video conference, you've got the means for a very successful virtual meeting.

  7. Desktop Sharing
    Question: How do I give a presentation when I'm 3,000 miles away from the office?

    Answer: Unyte, an addon for Skype, has taken the concept of document collaboration a step further allowing users to share entire desktops while engaging in VoIP calls. This is the perfect tool for presentations, troubleshooting, and long distance conferencing.

  8. Bluetooth Integration
    Question: How do I use VoIP with a Bluetooh headset?

    Answer: It seems like every new digital device that comes out has to offer "hands free" operation for it to be successful. Since most VoIP systems integrate directly into your computer, synchronizing calls with Bluetooth for hands free operation is extremely easy. For detailed instructions, follow this guide. Some VoIP providers are going even farther than that and using Bluetooth technology as a means of offering VoIP on the go.

  9. Conventional VoIP Phones
    Question: How do I use VoIP with my regular phone?

    Answer: One of the most common requests VoIP users make is to transform their ordinary landline and mobile phones into VoIP ready devices. After all, anything beats using a $3 broken microphone and built in laptop speakers. One such device for converting your landline phone into a VoIP deivce is VIVOvoiceKey. To operate VIVOvoiceKey, plug the adapter into a USB port on your computer, the landline into the USB adapter, and start talking. If you're ready to take the next step and try VoIP on your mobile phone, check out this list for several great solutions. You'll be amazed at how versitale VoIP truly is.

  10. Nintendo DS VoIP Phone
    Question: How do I Use VoIP with my video game console?

    Answer: Although most of you don't actually own a Nintendo DS, we thought this hack was too cool to pass up. By simply installing a piece of software, you can take advantage of Nintendo DS' built in microphone and WiFi connection and use your gaming gadget as a phone. Be sure to check out this guide for more information.

  11. Virtual Tutoring
    Question: How do I get help with my homework via VoIP?

    Answer: With the help of power features like video conferencing, VoIP has made it possible for tutors to communicate and instruct their students online. The most popular tutoring services are Jyve and Ether. If you've got a question (and a few extra dollars) someone out there has the right answer for you.

  12. Voice Alteration
    Question: How do I change my voice for prank phone calls?

    Answer: What good would new technology be if you couldn't have a little fun with it? If you want to play pranks on your peers or perhaps annoy the next telemarketer that calls you try out Voice Cloak Plus or Scramby. These pieces of software integrate into your VoIP solution and modify your voice into people ranging from Darth Vader to a toddler. For added annoyance, be sure to play around with the sound effects. Nothing beats a few random lasers or cow's mooing.

For Advanced Users

The following tutorials require a bit more knowledge of the VoIP system and a bit of programming. We recommend you attempt these only if you're a real expert, or someone that doesn't mind a few minutes (sometimes hours) of frustration.

  1. Wakeup Call
    Question: How do I program my VoIP solution to send me wake up calls?

    Answer: If you need to wake up early in the morning for an important meeting, or perhaps late in the evening for a date but don't have an alarm, try configuring your VoIP solution to give you a call at a particular time. The basic idea is to add a scheduled task to your VoIP solution that sends you a phone call every few minutes until you turn the service off. Check out this guide for a tutorial on configuring Skype wakeup calls.

  2. Listen to Podcasts
    Question: How do I stream podcasts and live news feeds with VoIP?

    Answer: Okay so maybe it's not the question you're asking the most, but it is possible to listen to your favorite podcasts or stream live weather reports via VoIP. Just follow this detailed guide (Part 2) (Part 3). Note: this hack requires a PBX system such as Asterisk.

  3. Torture Telemarketers
    Question: How do prank telemarketers?

    Answer: And last, but certainly not least on our list of VoIP tutorials is how to torture a telemarketer (or your friends). This tutorial is designed to turn your PBX system into a series of lengthy menus that ultimately end up hanging up at the most inopportune time. Payback is a... well you know.

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