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CrackBerry Live: Talking faxes and VoIP on BlackBerry 10 with Jim Courtney

Faxing is still a thing!

By Simon Sage on 16 May 2013 03:18 pm EDT
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As it turns out, sometimes people still need to send a fax. Luckily, there's a mobile app out there for BlackBerry 10 called PamFax which lets you handle it without all of the fuss of a bulky machine. Users can pay a subscription fee for an inbound line, or get a bucket of credit for outbound faxes, which can be pulled in from on-device images and documents. 

We met up with Jim Courtney at BlackBerry Live 2013, who had helped roll out PamFax to BlackBerry World, but he also has a history with VoIP going  waaaaaay back. We chat a bit about Skype on BlackBerry 10, and he goes so far as to say that it's the best implementation of a mobile Skype solution to date, even though it's an Android port. Those are some bold words - do you guys agree? 

We've got plenty more CrackBerry Live content to get up, including more interviews and product demos. Oh, and if you're interested in PamFax, you can find it here in BlackBerry World. Be sure to check out Voice on the Web for more from Jim.

Reader comments

CrackBerry Live: Talking faxes and VoIP on BlackBerry 10 with Jim Courtney

26 Comments

Very nice app when needed. My neighbor was running all over the place the other day trying to find someone who could send a fax for her. Smartphone faxing.. great concept!

It would be better if Blackberry would develop a native fax app to integrate into the OS! Especially for their enterprise consumers!

I would love to see SIP-VOIP and XMPP (Jingle) deeply integrated into the BB10 OS. I do not want to have an app for everthying and IP-based telephony belongs ACTUALLY to the core functionality of a mobile device. Have a look at how this is done for NOKIAs N9 with Meego. I'm completely company independant with SIP/XMPP on this phone and if I still like I could use of cause Skype, Viber, whatever on BB10. Just support the open telecommunication standards in BB10!

While sending a fax us not as common as it used to be, it is still occasionally necessary. I do so much on my Z10 now, I appreciate having this functionality on my "Pocket Office."

Posted via CB10

Nvm, just watched the video. The article is wrong. Article says "goes so far as to say that it's the best implementation of a mobile VoIP solution to date", he actually said it's the best mobile skype implementation.

BBM has a better sound and video quality, not to mentioned instant messaging.
But Skype could do voice call to land line, or cell phone... Skype is a VOIP solution. Skype is quite spread around the world an available from multiple device type, PC, TV, tablet, phone..
BBM is simply the best messaging system, but until now limited to BlackBerry phone users. Going cross platform is definitely a good thing for BBM because it will open it to almost all smartphone market.
Now give me the possibility to call land line thru BBM...and I could tell I may simply discard using Skype anymore.

Posted via CB10

Each of Skype, BBM and Facetime use fundamentally the same IP-based communications technology. VoIP is really a very limiting term covering any voice communications offering Over-The-Top ("OTT") connections. In practice to be a player it's about enabling conversations via chat, voice or video using IP packets.

Skype Chat is also known as Instant Messaging and uses similar messaging technology; it has only been around for almost ten years.

As a fax technician, I seriously need something like this to test lines. Just not sure it's worth a monthly subscription, fax calls are going down (finally!)

Posted via CB10

BlackBerry World says there is no monthly subscription.

Posted via CB10 from the BlackBerry Z10

I use faxage for $7.95 usd a month and it's email based. I can send faxes by sending email attachments to (faxnumber)@faxage.com. Faxes come in as email with pdf attachments. Works well for me

Posted via CB10

Personally I think the implementation of Skype on the pre3 was better. Just integrated into the phone app, no need for an additional application. But it's good to hear what has to be a fairly early iteration of Skype for BlackBerry phones spoken of so well, it can only get better from here.

Posted via CB10

I am home, finally, and I want to thank those commenters who had constructive feedback.

To clarify some items: The Internet connections at the event and in the hotel rooms were not totally reliable at any given time. I had to resort to using Rogers new U.S. roaming offer to get something close to reliable but even then it had some issue (like telling me my SIM was not compatible at one airport when it actually was everywhere else).

As a result I decided to do the PowerPoint to be able to do the interview within the time frame CL allotted.

As for Skype on BlackBerry (I will be doing a complete post over the weekend):
My comment was that Skype on BlackBerry 10 was the best performing mobile version of Skype; I have used it on iPhone, iPad and Android devices). iPad has become much better with recent updates (but then tablets are going away in the next five years, right? ;-)

This is a Preview version; you can log in via Skype account (but not yet via MS Account), one needs to let it settle in when first used as it wants to integrate SkypeID's into the Social information in your BB Contacts. In my case, with over 800 contacts, it currently takes about 30 minutes. Be Patient. These are all issues that will be input from the Preview for ongoing development. In the meantime it works (and actually has a very complete Skype feature set). I'm sure we'll see new Preview versions before it becomes "Gold".

As for being an Android port; this is a starting point for many applications I am using - WordPress, Songza, Untappd. They may have a few glitches but the bottom line is that they are very usable. Here is the statement put out by Skype when GigaOm and others first learned it would be an Android port:

“You are correct that the Skype app coming to BlackBerry 10 is our very popular Skype for Android app. We are excited that BlackBerry is enabling Android apps like Skype for Android run great on BB10, and are fully supporting the Android runtime environment and Android tools for BlackBerry 10. This allows us to leverage our existing Skype for Android development efforts to quickly have the latest version of our app (Skype for Android 3.1) ready for BlackBerry 10. We are closely collaborating with BlackBerry to ensure the app runs well and that BlackBerry 10 users will have a great Skype experience. To that end, we are working closely with BlackBerry to open up some of the integration points available to native apps in the OS so that they can also be used by the Skype application and we expect the app will allow Skype users to see notifications, to start the app from the Hub, and to see their Skype contacts in the native phone book.”

A couple of those "integration points" are included in what we see in the Preview, such as seeking Skype contacts in the native phone book and you get Notifications when there is Skype activity (login, chat messages, etc.)

No Skype on any mobile hosts a multi-party call but you can be a participant on a multi-party call. Lots of experience with that (saved participation in a critical call recently when my Windows PC crashed and needed time to reboot - answered on my BlackBerry 10). Current processor speeds simply are too slow for hosting multi-party calls. (Maybe when we see devices with SnapDragon quad core 600 and 800 chips.)

The real test of Skype for BlackBerry 10 was how I could use it routinely at BlackBerry Live this week and participate in some Skype Group chats that I have been on for a few years as well as communicate with individual Skype contacts. Also at one point it accepted the download of the final PowerPoint used in this video. For the first time I could use it in real time as a fully featured extension of using Skype on my PC's when I am away from the home office.

Again my comment was about Skype on mobile; BBM Voice and Video work very well also. As I mentioned in the interview, we'll probably see three key players in this space: Skype, Facetime and BlackBerry. (and carriers will eventually be reduced to a role of sending and receiving packets) but that's a few years out. It's the "network" effect that makes each of these viable in the end; we all know the technology behind it works.

What will really be interesting is how this space plays out during the rollout of WebRTC. See the CrackBerry video with Eric at HookFlash also recorded at BlackBerry Live for a start in that direction on BlackBerry and other mobile platforms.

This application will be very handy once I figure out how to deploy it to the Work partition.

Posted via CB10 from the BlackBerry Z10

Outbound faxes on demand are $0.12 per page; an inbound fax number is $8.25 per month including 20 outbound faxes per month on the Pro Plan; it also reduces the extra per page cost to $0.08/page. A Basic plan is €3.95/$5.50 per month on a 12-month subscription.

I still have my brother MFC 4800. Best fax machine, scanner, copier and printer ever. :)

If it ever broke, I'd maybe get that app. :D