The French are at it again with their online technology. Orange (France Télécom) have provided a Facebook-based “social calling” feature as part of their Livebox service for their subscribers.
The service, sold under the marketing name of “Party Call” is not a VoIP service but uses Orange’s mobile and landline voice infrastructure. But how does it exploit Facebook? Instead, it works as a Facebook app for the call management process, using your “Friends” list as the phone book if your Friends have listed their phone numbers, typically their mobile numbers, in to Facebook. Effectively it is as though you don’t have to remember their phone numbers.
I would improve on this through the ability to manage whether you can receive calls made on this setup or not. Here, this could prevent people from “stalking” you with your Facebook identity especially if you have tied a phone number to it.
Similarly, I would like to see a warning if you are calling someone who has an overseas mobile number or is roaming mainly to avoid bill shock for either party. This could be augmented through the the call routed through Skype, Viber or similar over-the-top VoIP services when the caller is roaming or overseas.
Of course, for people who use regular computers or tablets that don’t support cellular voice calling, I would want to be sure whether this function ties in with Orange-supplied telephone equipment like the Livebox and its DECT handsets or whether it simply uses a “softphone” setup that uses a VoIP setup.
It can also relate to issues like highly-strung DECT cordless handsets being able to import Facebook “friend lists” in to their contact lists and, eventually, Facebook turning in to an Internet-driven contact directory.