France Telecom’s Orange brand has today launched its incredibly interesting Libon service on Android. Until now the product, which we’ve described as ‘A mobile carrier in an app‘, has only been available on iOS. However the Android launch brings with it the benefits of closer integration with the operating system.
As with the iOS app, Libon has the potential to replace your phone’s standard telephony, SMS and voicemail features. It offers free Libon-to-Libon calling via cellular data and WiFi, and lets users call out to phone numbers via a standard phone call too. There’s voicemail that goes beyond Apple’s Visual Voicemail to offer customisable greetings for different callers, transcription and email alerts. Libon also offers unified messaging to messages to and from other users (for free) merged with standard SMS.
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Due to the ability for Android developers to build experiences that integrate far more tightly with the core OS than iOS affords, Libon on Android is a much more tightly integrated experience. Just as the Google Voice app on Android can essentially become your core telephony provider, Libon’s app does the same, allowing you to use the app to handle all calls, messages and voicemails.
Orange is making a big push with Libon this year
We previously described Libon as Orange ‘disrupting itself’ by essentially signalling that it was A-OK for its customers to use data to make calls and send messages. This isn’t just some small experiment in the sidelines, though. It seems that Orange is set to really buy into Libon hard over the next few months. From this week, France’s Sosh will offer customers preferential rates for standard calls and messages sent through the Libon app. Orange tells us that we can expect three or four other Orange-affiliated carriers to adopt this policy before the end of June, and another four or five by the end of the year.
By allowing customers to shift to VoIP while maintaining a strong carrier relationship, Orange is moving to stave off competitors with similar offerings, be that Microsoft’s Skype or even Facebook. What effect this may have on Orange’s bottom line remains to be seen but it’s a smart move in a competitive market, and one that customers may well find appealing; Libon is a quality product.
Also expected to land this week is an update to Libon for iOS, that introduces picture messaging support and ‘Push-to-Talk’-style audio messaging.
It’s worth noting that at present, Libon for Android is not available in the USA.
Image credit: AFP / Getty Images
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