Freshly Baked: Voice Mail, Queues, Ring Groups & Much More!

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Since our first beta release, we have received interesting feature requests, and sometimes, necessary for us to implement. We keep a keen eye on what’s needed and often apply some of these feature requests in our new releases.

A new FonB version is usually released due to bug fixes,  addition of a new feature, or a combination of both. However, this new release is mainly based on all feature requests were found practical and doable. The result is an innovative FonB release 1.2.1 that brings you the exceptional new features listed below:

1. FonB Mobility

After the release of our iPhone app, we are pleased to announce the release of our long awaited FonB for Android along with a whole new FonB Mobility package. Users will be able to make the full fledged use of the Mobility Features using FonB Android or iPhone App. FonB Mobility provides you Call Switching feature to move freely, anywhere, without the fear of disconnection. You can switch an ongoing call from your IP Phone to your Mobile or Webphone. You can steal the call from IP Phone or Webphone to either IAX based VoIP client of your mobile OR simply switch it to the GSM channel. Click here to know more about FonB Mobility Features.

2. Voicemail Management

Many thanks to Mr. Mike Fraser who has requested this feature, It is important to be able to get voice messages whenever you’re not able to receive calls. FonB, starting from release 1.2.1, is now capable of handling your Voicemail within its interface. You can listen to, download, or delete your Voicemail messages right from your FonB Web User Portal. To enable this feature, you need to create a Voicemail account enabled under your extension in your Asterisk (FreePBX/Elastix etc.) settings.

3. Queue Groups Management

Thanks to Mr. Lin who was the first to grab our attention to this feature. Queue Groups are mandatory for many scenarios and are now supported by FonB. Any call made to Queue Group is now available in Call History, however, you will have to define the Queue Group (in users.cfg) exactly as you define a user. Queue Group is defined as a user in FonB users.cfg, if you’re using a demo version, you can use one Queue Group and four users max or any other combination that doesn’t exceed a total limit of five users. Further details are available in our documentation page, You can now enjoy using FonB in Queue Groups environment as well.

4. Ring Groups

The Credit to this Feature Request goes to Mr. Panos Charalambous. Ring Groups are now officially supported by FonB. Now, You will be able to view any call to particular ring group in Call History. Each ring group is defined as a separate user in (users.cfg) which means that you need to consider them as part of your user count while running a demo version of FonB.

5. Ignore File

A few of our users have reported regarding garbage data in Call History that even existed in their Asterisk CDR records. One of the examples is a call to or from extension ‘s’. In addtion, there can be scenarios where you don’t want any call to or from some particular extension to be part of anyone’s Call History. This can be done using ignore file which is located in (/etc/phoneb/callhistoryignore.cfg) in FonB Configuration directory and can be altered to ignore any contact in Call History, system wise.

6. HTTPS Support

We have also started supporting HTTP Secure connections. Your data security is valuable and it is our duty to ensure making it even further secured. Supporting HTTPS is one way to express this vision.

7. CSV Export of Call History

Mr. Numan Khan of DVCOM, has suggested the option of Call History export to CSV file. Starting from this release, you can export Call History to a CSV file and use it later the way you like.

8. Follow Me Support

Since release 1.2.1, we have added Call History and Active Call support for extensions with followme scenarios configured. You can now see the extensions with Follow Me configured in Call History as well as in Active Calls.

9. Better, Speed Optimized Backend

Based on users input, we revised our backend code and gave it another shot to make it further optimized for speedy requirements. You will really feel the difference!

10. License Activation

No more backend access to activate, add or update new licenses. Everything is now available on the web based frontend. All you need is to acquire your license by registering for trial period OR purchasing new required licenses. Once you receive the keys, you can activate them right from the frontend, without any service restarts of typing the commands.

11. Per User Licensing

The licensing scheme has been changed from unlimited per server offer to per user per year subscription package. The details will be released very soon in the coming blog post, so stay tuned.

THE BOTTOMLINE is that we’ve included all these new features to take our great product to a higher success level. We are positive that you’re going to like them. Download FonB right now to explore the true meaning of Mobility.

Keeping Your Personal Contacts Private In A Company Setting

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Who is on YOUR contact list…?
Think for a moment:  whose names and phone numbers appear in your mobile phonebook or your Google Contacts?  
Just friends?  Just family?  Just business contacts?  
Do you keep your personal and business contacts separate?   Unlikely!  The vast majority of us include personal and business contacts in the SAME lists.   
After all, we’re using our various phones to make business and personal calls every day. We’re calling the printer about the company brochure.  We’re following up with a sales lead.  And then, in between calls, we’re making dinner plans with friends. 
It doesn’t make us bad employees.  It’s just easier and more efficient to keep our personal and business contacts together in a single, convenient location.    
Yet here’s a question for you: 
Would you ever want to SHARE your personal contacts’ names and phone numbers with your work colleagues? Probably not. I know that I certainly wouldn’t! 
And the vast majority of people in a corporate setting feel the same way. 
That’s why, when we were developing Aptus FonB, maintaining the privacy of personal contacts (and even some business contacts) was deemed a critical, must-have feature. 
Nobody wants to share their private contact lists. 
Your CEO… managers… sales reps… customer service staff… right down to that intern you just hired to make coffee and fetch dry cleaning… all value the security and privacy of their personal contact lists. 

Why? There are more reasons than you might think:

  • CEOs and top-level executives frequently have the names of high-profile clients, partners, and colleagues in their contact lists – phone numbers that have been shared with an assumption of absolute discretion.  These names and numbers can’t be leaked or it risks a reputation… a relationship… and likely revenue.
  • The #1 asset for most sales representatives is their ‘lead’ list -- especially for those whose salary is partially or wholly commission-based.  They aren’t interested in sharing the names of their top clients or their hottest leads with fellow sales reps. 
  • Most of us have the names of ‘exes’ in our contact lists.  Ex-employers.  Ex-girlfriends (or ex-boyfriends).  Ex-friends.  We don’t want these past relationships to be readily available for review by managers and fellow employees.  
  • If we ever need to suddenly leave our job (quit, fired, medical emergency), we can walk away without concern, knowing that our bosses can’t access our private contacts. 
  • Our private life, outside of work, should be exactly that – PRIVATE!   We all want the option of keeping the details of our personal lives to ourselves.  While some people enjoy sharing their entire lives via social media, others prefer to be more discrete. 
As you can see, there are many reasons why individual members of an organization might want to keep certain names in their contact lists PRIVATE.   

And I believe that, as developers, we have a responsibility to consider the bigger picture and protect the privacy, relationships, and income of our employers and colleagues…
(Even if they can’t see the potential risks!) 
... That’s why we insisted on building Aptus FonB to include a series of simple, flexible yet secure privacy features.    
I’m talking about privacy features that should make the vast majority of owners, managers, and employees comfortable using Aptus FonB to work from a unified, companywide phonebook, while still allowing managers to oversee the productivity of their sales teams, customer service representatives, and more. 
With Aptus FonB, you have the option to:
  • Securely import your Google Contacts (with the power to ‘revoke access’ to your Google Contacts from within Google OR FonB at any time). 
  • Securely import your mobile (iPhone) phonebook contacts. 
  • Mark every contact in your contact list as ‘Private’ or ‘Corporate.’  
  • ‘Corporate’ contacts become available to everyone on the unified company FonB directory.  
  • ‘Private’ contacts are only visible to you.  
  • Keep ‘Personal’ calls private.  Names and phone numbers will never be associated.  So managers and administrators can see that you made a ‘Personal’ call, and what time the call was made – but they won’t know who you were calling.  
  • ‘Corporate’ call details become available for review by managers and fellow team members via the FonB user interface. 
  • Managers can now be aware of how many Private Calls being carried out - explaining the measure of personal vs work related calls. 
As you can see, these privacy features encourage all levels of employees to use Aptus FonB to more efficiently manage their corporate communication via this unified phonebook…
… By keeping personal calls and contacts PRIVATE.
And developers and system administrators can sleep soundly at night, knowing that your employer isn’t going to suddenly call, raging that his personal contact list has been shared with dire consequences.
Learn more about Aptus FonB   
And take note, FREE 30-Day Trial

FonB - The User Portal for Asterisk

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If you try to look around for the available Asterisk GUIs, you’ll realize that every graphical user interface has been designed to facilitate Asterisk Admins. Elastix, FreePBX, PBX In A Flash, AsteriskNOW etc, all of them empower admins. While admin portals have an undenied importance, there is scarcely any solution that reduces the gap between Asterisk and the non technical users.

Proprietary IP PBX vendors like Avaya and Cisco understands this fact very well. You will find their marketing guys focus on presenting features supporting end users. This blog explains the mobility features directly to end users. The same applies to Cisco, Mitel,... etc.

FonB is a feature rich product, we have a wide range of versatile features developed to make average users life easier. We try achieve this goal by simplifying tasks that are considered hassle in daily life. We know that geeks find their ways to resolve a problem, however, non technical folks are left behind with complicated tasks. Frank (our CTO), for instance, wrote a script that used to import all the contacts from his mobile to his IP Phone. It helped our lead developers once, but didn’t help the receptionist operator much as he had to manually import around 500 corporate contacts to his operator console with frequent updates. That is the kind of pain we wanted to reduce. So we delivered FonB.

Using FonB, any salesman can import his private mobile contacts right in his IP Phone, without the fear of them being exposed to someone else. We understand that any sales lead is an asset, and therefore should be confidential. We ensure that your contacts remain private and secure. You will always have a choice to revoke access either from within FonB or from your Gmail.

An operator, for example can import complete multiple contact lists, no matter how large it is, right into the IP Phone/Operator Console. Assuming each number consists of at least 9 digits, providing a solution like FonB to import and synchronize a contact list of 500 contacts saves around 5000 keystrokes for any operator. FonB does this in 3 simple clicks !

Customer Support team can always create and update notes without going into the inconvenience of logging into the corresponding CRM profile  in order to update it with the most recent comment. Everything can be done from within FonB - with a single click.

Department Heads are always looking to distinguish the working hands within organizations. They can always measure work calls in comparison to personal calls by simply logging into FonB. More Highrise Calls by a particular user means more work related calls and vice versa.

Account Auditors are not required to dig deeper into CDR Server Reports anymore. They can  now see the Call History of assigned users in order to figure out the way they have been using their Telephones.

The most useful feature for any type of employee is the Call Switching. It’s the True Mobility at your finger tips. Any user can switch an ongoing call from IP Phone to Mobile or to Webphone or vice versa. This is one of the most important features we bring for Asterisk users.

We, at Aptus Telecom, are proud of our contribution, turned into a business to the community, it makes us feel good.

An impressive user portal for Asterisk in the form of Aptus FonB is now available for Asterisk users. Download your 30 days trial now and start exploring the potentials of Aptus FonB.

FonB Wins "Most Innovative Product" Award

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We believed in it since the start. We had a strong faith in our product, the feature set, the support quality, and the stability of Aptus FonB. We started just a year back. Our first stable release was presented to our users merely 4 months back. And here we are.. just in a very short span of 4 months, we have covered a long journey to grab ourselves a great award.

Aptus FonB has been announced as ‘The Most Innovative Product of the show’ at ITEXPO Miami (28-31st January, 2014).

We are a Dubai based company with exceptional development resources and a limitless faith in our product. We participated in the event and we are very proud to inform you that our booth was one of the busiest and most visited booths by the audience in Miami.

Many Big names were attracted to us including Mr. Billy Chia of Digium, our good friends from Elastix, Yeastar, and the man behind Asterisk, Mr. Mark Spencer himself. We tested one of our new releases on the show while demonstrating the product and it was later made public next Friday.

As a recap, this is exactly how we introduce innovation to your IP Telephony System:

We are Phonebook Solution Providers who have introduced a new concept of product line to the Asterisk Community. We integrate your contacts from your iPhone, Android, your CRM, Asterisk Extensions, and your company wide speed dials, and we bring them for you on a single platform. This single platform is available in three different forms depending upon the telephony device you want to use. We provide a web interface, a mobile application and an XML based IP Phone App from where you can manage these different types of contacts. As a further step towards Unified Communication, we also provide you an option to interact with these different contact types by making, receiving, or even switching calls seamlessly without the other party noticing the call switch. In fact this was one of the most interesting products along with Contact Management.

Our users, clients and partners are aware of the power residing in FonB. We invite you to have the experience as well. You can try FonB anytime, available for 5 users - 30 days trial.

FonB Mobile - The Kick Off

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On 14th August 2013, five and a half months ago, we announced that FonB will be available as a mobile app very soon. Well, the kick off time for that announcement has finally arrived. Our mobile app was one of the most anticipated products for our users and we are happy to announce hereby that it is now available to be purchased and used at our website as well as at iTunes.
FonB App - Settings page
We admit that it took us more time than anticipated, however, we got delayed for two (genuine) reasons. First of all, we had to change the backend communication protocol between Mobile App and FonB Server from SIP to IAX2 due to certain reasons we have discussed about FonB Mobile Goes IAX Secondly, we were very much concerned about the quality of app to be introduced to our users. Thus, we had to code the app in a very optimized way to avoid any memory leakages or battery drainage situations. The supercool fact is that, we got our app approved in very first attempt, without any observation from Apple, which means, the code was almost perfect. Fascinating!

So, for now, the hottest news from Aptus HQ is that you can now download the FonB App for iPhone from iTunes and from our website and can use it in two different ways. 

If you are looking to give it a try before going to enable this feature corporate wide, you can download the FonB Mobile app from iTunes and then use the in-app purchase to buy a Single User - Multi Server License worth $25. This means that you will be able to use the same iPhone Device with licensed FonB Mobile with any FonB Server as it will not be binded with FonB Server.

Another way to use it, is to purchase an Unlimited Mobile Server Addon which is Multi User - Single Server binded. This purchase can be made from our website using your credit card or PayPal account and will enable unlimited number of Mobile Users for a particular FonB Server. Definitely, this license won’t be requiring any in-app purchase. 

Both licenses will work with FonB Free for 5 Users package, however, only users with passwords in /etc/phoneb/phoneb.cfg will be able to use it. Thus, if you have purchased 6 Mobile App single licenses worth $25 each, only users with passwords in users.cfg will be able to use the mobile app. Please note that the total number of users in this case can not exceed 5 users. Same applies for FonB Mobile Unlimited. 

Remember, FonB Mobile App is a great step towards Unified Communication right at your finger tips. And guess what - We even impressed Mark Spencer with this particular app while he was having our product demo at IT Expo 2014 held in Miami Beach, Florida. 

IT Expo in Miami

Enjoy the app and have a great time ahead !

Release 1.1.0: The Simpler The Better - Part 1

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Release 1.0.5 was published on November,2013 (around two months back). It was the most stable release so far and was extremely appreciated by our users. With the aforementioned release, we decided to come up with some newer features that can make our solution even simpler and better. We’re starting of three blogs series explaining these new features and here’s the first one.

Installation Script: A Step Towards Simplicity

Release 1.0.5 marked it’s way towards great success. It offered some bugfixes and support to localization. Throughout our course, FonB has been through many remarkable developments. The only field that required a dire urge of betterment was: The Installation Procedure.

FonB Installation Script

Further details:
FonB was developed as a user portal for average non technical users. The installation method however involved a number of steps. Some users, who were not well versed with Linux, considered this as the only complexity while handling FonB. So we ‘had’ to come up with a relatively simple, short, and quick method to install FonB. We came up with ‘Installation Script’, our simplified way of installing FonB.

Installation Script, as the name indicates, is a Python based script which is written to do almost everything for you. It will install the latest version of FonB as a tar.gz compressed file, extract it, and create the configuration files (users.cfg & phoneb.cfg) by itself. It will populate the main config file (phoneb.cfg) by retrieving the right parameters available in different locations.

The script resolves some repeatedly reported problems associated with FonB installation as well. Elastix & PBX In A Flash, for instance, requires PHP Compilation in order for FonB frontend to work. Installation Script automatically handles this issue. It downloads, make and configure PHP (definitely with user’s permission). IonCube configuration was another problem that has been taken away from users by the same script.

FonB also requires a new database. Furthermore, it also requires some modification in a current existing one. Those of you who are not familiar with MySQL syntax, ought to be happy now as the ‘Installation Script’ is going to create the databases and alter the pre-existing one as well.

To avoid CLI based workout, the script will ask you for the first extension to be put in users.cfg, so that you can login and check if everything went right.

In simple words, we’ve saved you from a hectic 30 minutes of FonB installation procedure. It’s not more than 5 minutes simple process now. We are committed to making your lives easier and simpler.

The ‘Installation Script’ to install and configure FonB with great ease is now available on our website. And for our Technical geeks, the main executables are also available for those who are interested in understanding the FonB installation architecture.

Choose your course and start using FonB right away. The installation as well as the usage.. is now as easy as 1 - 2 - 3 !

(To Be Continued)

Against The Tides: FonB Mobile Goes IAX

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There was a time when people relied only on PSTN Lines in order to communicate with their distant loved ones. Today, things have changed. Though we can still have PSTN lines, they are seldom used in personal communications. Smartphones in our pockets, IP Phones on our desks, tablets and laptops in our backpacks have transformed us into a different communication era. Network Admins are forced now to adapt BYOD practices to enhance corporate productivities. It’s become almost mandatory to provide a mobile version of your application in order to provide your users with more flexible usage choices. Putting this vital requirement into consideration, it was part of our vision to provide our users access and availability of FonB at every device.

The development of FonB Mobile started four months ago. Our aim was to provide all the functionalities of FonB web right on your Android and iOS powered devices. The roadmap of mobile development was pretty obvious except one phase - Signalling Protocol. At the beginning, we planned to use SIP, a traditional VoIP signalling protocol and natural choice in most of the cases. We all know that SIP is one of the best signalling protocol and works almost everywhere. However, one complication with SIP is it’s deployment in NATed environment.

At protocol level, SIP doesn't provide any inbuilt support for Network Address Translation. This means that native SIP, without any external feature used by Server or Client side, won’t be able to handle NAT scenarios. External Protocols like STUN, TURN & ICE etc. are used to make SIP smooth and operational in NATed environment. In some cases, user end might have to induce port forwarding techniques on their Gateway Firewalls.

Although It’s not that complicated for technical users, we believe in keeping non technical user in mind while developing. So instead of embedding SIP protocol and asking our end users to configure SIP with NAT, we came up with the use of IAX as an alternative that suited us in such scenarios.The Usage of IAX incorporates NAT within the protocol definition itself and handles it natively without any external tool. This was an unpaved road for us especially the implementation & optimization of IAX library in iOS. This tough task however bears fruits for our users, for their will be no complex configuration in the application level for NAT traversal. Another advantage of IAX is the bandwidth & network optimization. While NAT configuration becomes complicated as SIP has to work with RTP on different ports, IAX carries data and signal both on same port. This kills any possible chances of mismatched ports and thus delivers smooth configuration-less installation on mobile devices.

So, in a nutshell.. we have replaced SIP signalling with IAX to facilitate our average users. We are currently polishing FonB mobile. Stay tuned to the news and updates and we will greet you back soon.