I hear all the time from customers that they would like to replace their SIP desk phone with a mobility app (like the SkySwitch PBX Fone) running on their smartphone. On its face, this seems to make sense. In practice however, it’s not a viable solution for several reasons.
One of the biggest impediments to making this idea work has been the inability for 3rd party app developers to integrate more tightly with the phone operating system. For example, an incoming cellular call will always take precedence over a VoIP call on a mobile app, and there is not an effective way for app developer to override this behavior. As a result, it has always been my opinion that a mobile app could never displace a SIP desk phone in a business environment until the Apple and Android OS developers decide to make it possible.
With the recent announcement by Apple of an API for VoIP apps (named CallKit) in iOS 10.0, it seems that day may be on the horizon. According to the Apple developer website:
The CallKit framework (CallKit.framework) lets VoIP apps integrate with the iPhone UI and give users a great experience. Use this framework to let users view and answer incoming VoIP calls on the lock screen and manage contacts from VoIP calls in the Phone app’s Favorites and Recents views.
CallKit also introduces app extensions that enable call blocking and caller identification. You can create an app extension that can associate a phone number with a name or tell the system when a number should be blocked.
Of course, this is just one piece of the puzzle. The other impediments to displacing the desk phone being neatly summarized by Polycom (Imagine that) here.
In the meantime, we will be working with our mobility development partner to get these features into PBX Fone. Keep an eye open for future developments.