Have an instant talk using portable VoIP apps

Feb 11, 2008
Updated • Feb 13, 2013
Software, Windows

Assuming you have some kind of headset or at least a cheap mike with speakers in the worst case, I bet you've already tried using some voice-over-IP services and you may have liked it except its being rather inflexible, heavy and maybe even complicated to set up.

In that case, you might appreciate the possibility to immediately start a conversation with anyone without needing to install a Skype-type application on your computer and registering for an account it requires you to have. Additionally, if typing contests aren't your favorite sort of competition and you spend a lot of time writing text messages via regular messengers, this could be a good way of saving a bit of it.

The only thing you need to get connected via voice is a light-weight, no-install application named PicoPhone. Squeezed in negligible 55 kB, this simple-interfaced utility enables you to establish a connection with another party or receive a call by just letting it run in background while it carefully listens to incoming calls on a default or another specified port.

If acting as a server however, you of course do need to make sure that you can receive the incoming connection on that particular port by enabling it in your firewall or setting a single port forwarding rule in case you're sitting behind a router. But that's where the worries end and fun begins. Input the IP address of the party you want to join along with custom port number (if changed) separated by a colon, hit dial and talk.

Besides instant voice communication with support for conference sessions, this tiny piece of SW is also capable of delivering text messages thus allowing you to resolve voice drop-outs or exchange other vital information. The Preferences menu inside the program lets you change a range of settings including codec used (3 different codecs available), port used for incoming connections, audio volume levels and thresholds as well as incoming-call actions.

To achieve a good quality of communication, you may need to adjust your system's sound settings using sound control panels but that's in fact something you need to go through with any other software of this kind. Why not for instance send this small tool to a friend of yours and start practicing foreign languages right away...

Just a note that the program initially connects to an external server to obtain some information to successfully establish aconnection but doesn't require nor share any of your personal info. As stated on its homesite: "Picophone connects to www.vitez.it to obtain the list of picoservers and the public IP address of the computer, where Picophone is running. Its connection attempts are not spyware."


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