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Fonolo's deep dialer comes to the iPhone

Deep dialer Fonolo is now available as an iPhone app, letting users start a call to a specific part of a company's phone tree without going through voice menus.

Enthusiasts of deep dialing, or calling, to a specific part of a large phone tree are likely to enjoy Fonolo's new iPhone application.

The app, offers free of charge, includes most of the features found on Fonolo's Web site. The main attraction, of course, is being able to dig through a company's entire phone structure and get connected without having to waste phone minutes (and precious moments of your life) listening to automated prompts.

Using the app requires having a Fonolo account. While a pain, this serves two purposes. One is to sync your dialing history between your mobile-phone and Web use of Fonolo. The other is to keep track of your favorites--the specific parts of a company's phone tree that you've bookmarked for later use. Additionally, you can listen to phone calls you may have recorded using Fonolo's call record feature, which worked well in my testing.

As far as usability goes, Fonolo is on the slow side, if you're on older iPhone hardware. It takes a few seconds to jump between screens, which can be a pain when navigating a directory several menus deep. Again, this beats actually calling a company to go through the motions, but it's much slower than using from a regular computer or an iPhone 3GS.

Regardless of the hardware differences, I found its directory of companies difficult to navigate, as each alphabetically ordered page loads only 10 companies at a time. It's much faster to just use the app's search tool, which, while better than browsing, did a poor job at offering suggestions when I had slight misspellings.

Is Fonolo worth hanging on to as an iPhone app? If you regularly find yourself calling customer service lines and wanting to jump directly to a certain menu, then yes. If you're fine with just calling the company and wading through menus, don't bother.

Fonolo's iPhone app lets you hop to a specific menu in a big company directory. Screenshot by Josh Lowensohn/CNET