Party Line: Group calls on Lumia
Whether it’s your weekly sales meeting or a gabfest with far-flung friends, use these Windows Phone apps to make group calling easy on your Lumia.
From the 1890s to the mid-late 20th century, many people in the U.S., Canada, U.K and Australia had party phone lines. No, that doesn’t mean they drank, danced and played silly games while on the telephone. (Well, maybe some did.)
Party lines were communal telephone lines that up to 20 homes shared, a service that was cheaper than a private line, and a necessity in many rural areas. How times have changed!
Now, lots of people now don’t even have a land line. But there’s still a need–perhaps now more than ever–for group calls. Conference calls are a staple in the modern business world and often span many time zones.
Making group calls on your Lumia is easy: Go here for a quick how-to. But work-related conference calls are usually more complex, involving conference identification numbers, PINs or passcodes
So here are couple of conference-call Windows Phone apps that help you dial in when you’re on the go. We end with a few tips on conference-call etiquette so you don’t embarrass yourself (hint: The mute button is your friend).
With just one tap, dial into a group call with this free app for Windows Phone 8 and above. First, choose whether you want to make a “basic” or “advanced” conference call. A basic call is one that just needs a phone number and passcode. An “advanced” call requires more numbers, such as an additional PIN.
You can then save that number and pin it to your Start screen so you can dial in with a single tap. This feature is especially helpful for conference calls that you attend on a regular basis.
If one tap is just too arduous, you can also use voice command. Just long-hold the start button and say “Conference in” and the name of the conference call. To ensure you don’t lose any information, You can also back up all of your phone numbers on OneDrive. These last two enhanced features require an in-app purchase of 99 cents.
What I like about this free app for Windows Phone 8 is that it automatically searches for conference calls and pulls phone information from your calendar.
Set the app as a Live Tile and when you want to connect, just tap the tile and voila, you’re dialled in. Once a meeting is over, the Live Tile will refresh to show the next conference call on your calendar.
You can also set up a “Call Profile,” so if you have a weekly team meeting, name it (e.g. “weekly team sync-up!”), add contacts, enter their phone numbers as well as extensions or pauses, if necessary, and pin it to your Start screen.
The free Skype for Windows Phone 8.1 isn’t technically an app for conference calls; for example, you can’t start a group call via the app. However, you can receive and participate in audio calls.
I’ve used Skype for Windows Phone a number of times for conference calls, and it works like champ. Please note that group calls are audio calls only (no video), and that the group call may appear as a normal Skype call.
Identify yourself. No one can see you, so it’s helpful to introduce yourself, especially when you’re in a call with lots of people. Keep it short and sweet–just your name, title, and, if necessary, your company or organization.
Mute your call if you’re not speaking. Because no one wants to hear you slurp your morning cup of joe. Hitting the “mute” button also helps cut down on general background noise.
Don’t interrupt. While it’s always rude to interrupt someone, it’s even more annoying on a conference call since no one can tell what you or the person you interrupted just said.