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Innodial for iPhone: Hassle-free, affordable long-distance calling

Upcoming Innodial iPhone app makes long-distance calling hassle free and affordable.

Innodial, Dong Ngo/CNET Networks

If you've used phone cards before, you know how annoying it is trying to reach the person on the other side.

First, you have to dial a local number, then in most cases you have to type in a PIN, and then type in the phone number of the person you want to reach. During the whole process, if you mistype a digit, chances are you'll have to repeat the whole thing from the beginning.

That's so much work, but for most of us, the savings are worth it--especially if you want to keep in touch with loved ones in another country.

Well, soon enough, you won't have to fumble through the numbers anymore.

Innodial, a calling card provider, just announced an iPhone application of the same name. The app allows you to dial a long-distance number directly from the iPhone or assign it to a local number for convenient dialing.

I tried the app out on my iPhone 3G and loved it. The app's dialing interface resembles that of the iPhone itself. You can create a new phone book or use the contact list of the iPhone.

When you want to call a long-distance number, you just have to dial the number itself, including the country code. The app then calls a local number by itself, applies the PIN, and connects you to that long-distance number.

At Innodial's Web site, you can assign a particular long-distance number (say, one of somebody in London) to a local available phone number. Then, with Innodial, you can call the person in London by dialing that local number and pay the same rate as when you dial that international number directly.

Note that you will still use your cell phone minutes; where you save is with the very lowinternational-calling rates. For example, Innodial's rate to call London is less than 2 cents per minute, or 9 cents per minute for Vietnam.

During my trial calls (to Vietnam and Europe) the call quality was acceptable--not as good as when I dial directly from the cell phone (and pay $1.54 per minute), but most of the time it was clear enough.

The Innodial app also allows you to manage your account on the iPhone, including adding credit to your account and adding a virtual phone number. You can make the virtual number a local number of your loved one so that when they call you, they won't have to pay long-distance charges, and the call then can be forwarded to a number of your choice. The virtual number costs another $1.95 per month, however.

The Innodial app will be available as a free download at the App Store in March, which is late for Valentine's Day but, hey, there's always next year.

In the meantime, you can blow kisses.