A softphone is a simple concept. It’s a piece of software that runs on computers and mobile devices that is a nearly fully functioning phone, and it became popular as VoIP service came into the market. A softphone is a type of VoIP phone. The most fundamental impact the softphone had on communications was its mobility. With a softphone running on a laptop or tablet for example, you could now take your work phone with you.
If you’re familiar with Unified Communications, or UCaaS, the phone app is a softphone.
How Does a Softphone Work?
A softphone is similar to most other applications. It runs on a computer (compatible with PC, Mac, and Linux operating systems) and can also run as a web app. You just need a mic and speaker. To keep your calls private, you’ll just need an earpiece or headset. The softphone imitates the features and functionality of a desk phone.
Additionally, you can import your contacts onto the softphone which makes click to dial really easy, and most softphones have a presence module so that your coworkers can see whether you’re on a call or not, or in do not disturb mode.
What are the Benefits of a Softphone?
As mentioned earlier, mobility was the main reason people began using them, but as softphones have matured there are other benefits:
Separate Work and Personal Calls
This benefit is really appreciated and useful on your smart phone. A softphone app runs separately from the phone app that is used for personal calls. When a call comes to the softphone app, it looks entirely different from the personal phone app (most people also give the softphone a unique ring tone). You now know that the incoming call is work related, but more importantly, the caller dialed your work number, not your personal cell number. When you make an outbound call from your mobile softphone, the caller ID that the dialed part sees is you work phone number, not your cell phone number.
Softphones not only support voice calls, but video as well. This means you don’t need a 3rd party video app or service for video calls, which is more efficient and less expensive.
Softphones are either very inexpensive or actually free. Not all softphones are made equal, so be careful with the free softphones as they will lack certain features that may be important to you.
No Lines Needed
- Because the softphone runs over the internet, it doesn’t require a phone line.
- Because it runs on a computer, a softphone doesn’t require a dedicated ethernet network cable.
- If your computer uses WiFi for its internet connectivity, the softphone will use that too.
If you use a softphone exclusively, you won’t need a clunky desk phone taking up space on your desk.
Unlike your smartphone, softphone has the capability of call record. Be careful and know what the law in your state says about when it’s legal to record a call.
Most softphones today support SMS/MMS. Users are now able to send and receive work related text messages on their PC or Mac further consolidating the way they communicate.
Integration with VoIP Desk Phones
Softphones don’t compete with desk phones necessarily. Employees are usually assigned an extension on the hosted VoIP service. When a call is routed to an extension, it can ring at both the softphone and the desk phone. Whichever phone answers the call, the other phone stops ringing and the call is answered.
The Bigger Picture
VoIP communications has unified and continues to unify the way businesses communicate. Unified Communications is like an umbrella covering all the possible ways business people communicate with each other.
- VoIP desk phones
- Video conferencing
- Audio conferencing
- Screen sharing
The gain in efficiency and in features is enormous and will continue to evolve. The opportunity for businesses to leverage the Unified Communications portfolio to adjust with our changing environment is great, but it’s also challenging. Who needs a desk phone instead of a softphone? Who needs video conferencing? Maybe sales people need the ability to text, but the accounting department doesn’t. The softphone is just one more highly effective tool available to you.
Let Evolve Networks help design and integrate the right Unified Communications solution for you