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Most of us use a variety of tools to stay in touch, everything from e-mail and instant messaging services to social networks and even old-fashioned phones. Accessing all these different forms of communication can keep you so busy that you don't have any time left for chatting with your friends and colleagues. Enter VoxOx, a free application that provides access to a variety of voice- and text-based communication services.
Like Skype, VoxOx lets you make voice and video calls from your PC to any device--a landline, cell phone, or PC--with a phone number. The application comes with 2 hours of free calling time, and assigns you a VoxOx phone number, which you can forward to another phone when you're away from your VoxOx account. It also includes voicemail, and will forward messages to you as e-mail attachments. Placing calls is as easy as dialing a number, but voice quality will vary depending on the speed of your Internet connection and the quality of your headset. Overall, I found quality pretty good.
If you prefer to a text-based chat, VoxOx has you covered there, too. The app's handy wizard walks you through the process of importing contacts from the major IM networks, including AOL's AIM, Google Talk, Jabber, ICQ, Yahoo Messenger, and Windows Live Messenger. You can see when your contacts log on and initiate chats easily. VoxOx also allows you to send text messages to cell phone numbers.
VoxOx also lets you log in to your Facebook account (and says support for other social networks such as LinkedIn, Twitter, and MySpace is coming), as well as your web-based e-mail accounts. This is where I found the application a little confusing. Several of my AIM contacts are also in my Gmail and Yahoo address books, and are my Facebook friends, too. These people ended up in my VoxOx account several times, and VoxOx would notify me when they were online, but it wasn't always clear which service they were using. So I'd try to initiate an AIM chat only to find out that my contact was in fact just checking his Facebook account. VoxOx could learn from an application like Trillian, which lets you access several IM services, but clearly differentiates between them.
VoxOx's interface looks a whole lot like that of an iPhone, and that's a good thing. It's attractive and easy to use. VoxOx is in beta, and it's definitely in need of some refinement. But it's a strong start to an all-encompassing communications service.