It's official: Apple and AT&T will allow VoIP calls over the 3G network, presumably using an iPad or an iPhone. We knew the iPad included a microphone and speaker, however the big news regarding VoIP was revealed in the iPhone OS 3.2 SDK (Software Development Kit) released by Apple yesterday.
VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) makes it possible to use services like Skype to make voice calls over the Internet. AT&T and Apple have restricted VoIP applications on the iPhone to Wi-Fi in the past. Now developers are free to develop applications with this capability over the 3G cellular network.
Apple and AT&T have come under increasing pressure from the FCC over net neutrality issues. AT&T may have been concerned that users would replace normal calls with VoIP calls, which use data instead of calling plan minutes.
The operating system in the iPad SDK is iPhone OS 3.2. Right now this operating system will only run on the iPad hardware. Apple has yet to announce an update to the iPhone firmware.
Regardless, developers for iCall, a VoIP app for the iPhone, announced that they would be releasing the first iPhone app to feature the ability to place VoIP calls over 3G.
iCall CEO Arlo Gilbert stated, "I applaud Apple's decision to allow iCall to extend its functionality beyond Wi-Fi and onto the 3G networks. This heralds a new era for VoIP applications on mobile platforms, especially for iCall and our free calling model. I hope that now more developers will begin using our VoIP as a platform to integrate VoIP into their applications."
The iPad has been described as capable of running virtually any existing iPhone app.