Truphone Adds Key iPhone App Features, Hunkers Down

Truphone has re-vamped its iPhone app with two crucial new features. The first, dubbed Truphone Anywhere enables iPhone users to make low-priced international calls via the GSM network even when they are not connected to Wi-Fi. This is significant because prior to this you needed WiFi. The second is that inbound Truphone calling on the iPhone has now been added for the first time. That means Truphone-made calls between two iPhones are free. In addition – and this is somethiing business users will probably like – Truphone users will be able to indicate ‘presence’, as in ‘available’ or not.

With the new main feature, customers will pay for a local connection to the GSM network before the rest of the call is connected using VoIP. That would make an international call around $.06 per minute from the US to another country (or 3 pence if you were calling from the UK).

However, two features remain missing – text messaging and an ‘always on’ feature so you can get Truphone calls even when you aren’t running the app. However, I gather they are working on these kinds of issues, and as we all know Apple is not yet allowing third party apps to run in the background.

Meanwhile, Truphone itself appears to be going to some internal pain. At least that’s what it looks like from the outside. A reliable source told me the company has had to “slaughter a few holy cows”. That may or may not refer to the shift earlier this year of CEO James Tagg to Chief Architect, while new CEO Geraldine Wilson was brought in from Yahoo’s mobile division to shake up the company. They also moved from plush offices overlooking London’s Tower Bridge, to more spartan offices nearby enabling all staff to be on the same floor.

In addition some key members of the original team are rumored to be in negotiations about a quiet exit although when I asked her about this Wilson declined to be drawn on the details, saying only “We have made a number of positions redundant, we wanted to get the cost base down mainly as hard core development had been completed and we also wanted to change our mix of skills. We have very few commercial skills. So we made some redundancies. That process is nearly complete but not quite.”

Not that any internal changes reflect the company’s financial position. It has £31.5m funding and word is that revenues from call charges are going well. Plus it just released an app for the iPod Touch which effectively turns the device into a cellphone.