iOS 8 to feature Wi-Fi calling [Update - T-Mobile Confirms, it's coming!]

iOS 8 listsfeatures

There’s a sentence to make any T-Mobile fan skip a beat: Wi-Fi calling is an upcoming feature within iOS 8. Although it wasn’t among the main, highlighted features at the WWDC 2014 opening keynote, it was shown as a feature in the overview screenshot shown above.

Exactly how Wi-Fi calling will be implemented is yet to be seen. It’s very unlikely that T-Mobile phones will come preloaded with an app, or even a downloadable T-Mobile app from the App Store. If I had to guess, I’d assume it was a feature you could access from the Settings connectivity options. And – of course – there’s no guaranteed that T-Mobile iPhones in the US will have the feature enabled. But, the very fact that it’s going to be possible from iOS 8 devices is enough to get us salivating.

As for the rest of iOS 8′s improvements and main headline features, check out my roundup post from earlier.

UPDATE:

Well, that didn’t take long! Mike Sievert just published a new blog post at the usual location, stating that T-Mobile would soon be able to welcome iPhone users to its Wi-Fi calling group.

“…with the news coming out of Apple’s keynote today that Wi-Fi Calling will be enabled with iOS 8 – I’m excited to welcome our iPhone customers to the convenience and ease of T-Mobile Wi-Fi Calling as well.
 
When that happens, over 90 percent of all T-Mobile smartphones will feature Wi-Fi Calling. “

Exactly how that’s going to look, I’m not sure. But, I’ll try to find out.

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  • Verizonthunder

    Congratulations Apple welcome to 2014

    • MastarPete

      “Congratulations Apple welcome to 2007″

      FTFY

      • Verizonthunder

        Yes I am aware of that. I find it sad Apple has been at loss with creativity sense Steve Jobs passing though it would be interesting to see his point of view with the company if he was still around (sigh)

  • psychoace

    Considering that the Nexus 4/5 don’t have Wifi calling from T-Mobile I wouldn’t hold my breath for this. If it was just something you turned on in settings then I’m sure the Nexus or Google Play line would have had this by now.

    • fsured

      It may have been code in IOS that prevented WiFi calling. Are there apps for IOS that allow this now? I don’t own and IOS device to check. Nexus doesn’t have it because T-Mobile isn’t allowed to tweak the code and change things. If T-Mobile brings back their WiFi downloadable app then any Android device can have it.

      • http://rosarynovice.stblogs.com/ Augustine

        One can make calls without using plan minutes on an iPhone by using Google Hangouts, unlike on an Android phone. :-(

        • 80sGuy

          Wifi-calling is a totally different ballgame. It let’s you connect using the same number and automatically switches to cell/data signal if wifi signal is weak. There are tons of ‘voip-type’ which everybody calls it ‘wifi-calling’ which in fact isn’t the same.

    • http://rosarynovice.stblogs.com/ Augustine

      I tried installing the WiFi Calling APK from a TMUS phone into one without and Android complained about a missing kernel modules. I guess that, for security and network authentication, it needs access to privileged resources in Android. If so, it’s quite unfortunate, for it makes it very difficult that WiFi Calling would ever make to the Play Store. :-(

      • fsured

        T-Mobile changeed the application. It is now built into their baseband or whatever software they add to the OEM devices. That is why developers are unable to port it over. It’s proving to be a massive challenege to untangle and repackage it to install on it’s own.

    • 80sGuy

      Nexus is an entirely different device. There has been an out-pour, I mean the requests has been astronomical towards Apple to embed this feature. But then again, we’ll have to see when it to believe it. I’m hoping for the best

      • psychoace

        There has been an out cry for the longest time from Nexus users to get T-Mobiles wifi calling feature. There have been developers working hard to get it to work and can’t. So neither device is different in that aspect.

        • 80sGuy

          Well for one, Nexus is Google, and iOS is Apple. These two don’t get along. The new iOS 8 will be dropping Google and instead uses Bing as default search.

        • MastarPete

          It’s not a case of Google vs Apple and not wanting to play along.

          Wifi calling doesn’t need any particular OS in order to be implemented, but it does need API hooks in the OS in order to work seamlessly. Apple is notorious about keeping all of it’s API hooks a secret, and if you happen to find and use hooks that they feel only official Apple apps should have access to, your app gets the boot. It’s the number one reason T-mobile hasn’t brought a wifi calling app to iOS.

        • ChitChatCat

          Well, there’s a HUGE difference in the number of iPhone users and the number of Nexus users. So I’d imagine the outcry towards Apple might have been just a little bit louder.

    • Luis Medina

      I don’t want to sound like an a-hole but your comment is very stupid. The Nexus device family doesn’t get wifi calling because the feature is added through the OS itself. The iPhone is gettting because it’s being added to the OS itself. They might be able to release an app for wifi calling but it most likely not be efficient.

      • psychoace

        Stock Android has WiFi calling support and has had it for awhile without any apps. It’s in the settings.

        • Andrew

          No, that’s VOIP support which is quite different than T-Mobile’s Wi-Fi Calling feature.

        • kalel33

          Voice over internet protocol is exactly what WIFI calling is. It uses the internet.

        • Nurdface Gamerhandz

          Yes, but T-Mobile’s implementation is currently an in-house designed specification (to enable you to use your own number instead of a SIP) so it can’t be implemented without cooperation between T-Mobile and the device manufacturer. Since Apple and Google refuse to let anyone touch the software on their devices, they haven’t had it. Apple just decided to build it in on their end, like how personal hotspot used to be before Android built it in too

        • UMA_Fan

          No Voip is something else entirely. WiFi Calling is your cellular services working though the internet. Anything to do with voip is an over the top service running though an internet connection but doesn’t use your regular phone number. WiFi calling uses your regular phone number and calls/texts work as normal.

        • kalel33

          I can port my number to Google Voice and use my phone number for calling and texting, no problem. It’s the same thing, just with T-mobile you can set your phone up to make a cellular call or a VOIP call. Whether the phone number is attached doesn’t make a difference.

  • Alex Zapata

    Well I’m not an iOS user, but this is certainly welcome news!

  • KingCobra

    Finally. Wi-Fi calling was the one thing I missed the most when T-Mobile got the iPhone and I switched back to iOS. It’s really handy in some of the buildings at my University where cellular signals have a hard time penetrating

  • Nearmsp

    I need one more feature from Apple to make an iPhone work for me. And that is swype type of input text feature. Finger typing is not an option for me.

    • Adrayven

      Thats with iOS 8, 3rd party keyboards are official.. including Swype..

      EDIT: It’s part of their new extensibility ..Apps can now communicate with each other through extensibility.. and with that 3rd party keyboards can now be made default system wide..

    • KingCobra

      Yep done. 3rd party keyboards are allowed in iOS 8. I’m looking forward to using Swiftkey again.

      • timmyjoe42

        No Swiftkey was a major reason I’ve never bothered to switch to an iPhone. If it supported drag and drop, I’d get it for sure. My Nexus 4 not having wifi calling is a big drawback for me. I’m hoping to travel internationally this summer and the reception inside my house is “teh sux.”

    • donnybee

      That’s in iOS 8. 3rd party keyboards that can be enabled in all your apps. Plus the widgets that can be accessed from lock screen and home screen due to notification center. Quick replies. Updated spotlight search. Touch ID security throughout. Console-level gaming. Home automation centralization and fusion with Siri. Shazam integrated with Siri. Inter-app communication with extensions.. The list goes on and on but it’s now going to be the best ecosystem available. What more could you want on the software side for a mobile device??

      Suddenly no device running Android is looking so great. I was really excited for the G3 but now that I know the new iOS will destroy android, I just want to see what the new iPhone will look like already! Game changing day at WWDC!

      • Paul

        “…destry android…” and “Game changing day…”?
        No, but I like that Google and Apple push each other.

  • Aurizen

    I never really kept up with the news but if you have T-Mobile service what is so good about Wi-Fi calling?

    • Adrayven

      I enjoy bowling.. Problem: Bowling allies are big, large steel buildings.. no Cell signal usually.. They almost always have WiFi though inside.. With WiFi calling I can use their free WiFi to still make / receive calls and SMS messages.

    • S. Ali

      Make calls from areas you have no reception or coverage. Its also a higher quality call.

    • UMA_Fan

      Its helpful if you happen to be in a building where signal is not penetrating through. Also when used internationally WiFi calling makes your phone behave as if its located in the US

    • jj

      Its really nothing special itself but its amazing if you are in an area with no cell coverage. You can connect to WiFi and its like having full signal for calls,SMS, and MMS .

    • Kusgan

      Like me working inside a place where there is no phone signal and there is a work wifi or when i travel to asia and calls to the US is free through wifi calling.

    • dood

      Yeah, T-Mobile charges you the minutes off your plan when you don’t use their cellular network and use WiFi calling. It can be useful in a pinch, but since it’s not using their cellular network, IMHO, there should be a discount when wifi calling is used.

      • Anon

        Actually, you can add free unlimited wifi calling to certain plans, and most of the newer t-mobile plans come with unlimited minutes anyway so it doesn’t matter.

        • Moby

          All postpaid calling plans have unlimited minutes starting in May. There’s nothing to add. So a phone with wifi calling also has unlimited talk via wifi as well.

        • tylerderk

          Some of the benefits of T-Mobile WIFI calling feature is that you can make calls thru a WIFI router even with no reception on a mobile network.
          Can come in handy

      • Moby

        All of T-Mobile’s postpaid calling plans have unlimited minutes now starting last month. So Wifi calling doesn’t come off of your plan as you’re trying to claim. .

        • http://rosarynovice.stblogs.com/ Augustine

          No, not the awesome $30 plan for 100min of voice and 5GB of data. Then, these rules apply: t-mo{dot}co/TaEKIS

      • schweddyballs

        You still worried about minutes? Haha

      • http://rosarynovice.stblogs.com/ Augustine

        Incoming calls over WiFi are free and so is placing calls to the US over WiFi from abroad.

    • Paul

      I’ll give you a real world example of when WiFi Calling was helpful, I’ll even give you 2 now that I remember another one.

      Story 1:
      I’m in Texas and we do not handle ice very well. An ice storm came through in 2010 and shut the DFW area down for about 6 days. They were doing rolling brownouts because everyone was running their heater. Well, the brownouts were hitting the T-Mobile tower(s) near my apartment at the time. So when the power came back on I didn’t have service. Quite frustrating.
      Queue the WiFi Calling; all I had to do was wait for the internet to come up, which was about a minute, and I could send/receive calls/text via WiFi Calling. It’s not an everyday scenario, but it happened to me.

      Story 2:
      It was the chaotic time of the Big Blue Purchase Attempt. A tower near my parent’s place, in Austin, wasn’t working and tech refused, on their own accord, to fix it, regardless of how many times my parents called and complained. Every time I would visit I would miss messages and calls from friends that wanted to meet up while I Was in town.
      WiFi Calling helped me out because I could use it at their house and make send/receive calls/text. Then I could turn it off when I drove the one block it took to get 4 full bars. Luckily, they fixed the tower.

      A REALLY good example of how it could be useful is inside building that block the signal. This happens a lot, and we have all experienced it. Find a free or available WiFi, log into it, and use WiFi Calling to relieve any worry about signal strength.

      I LOVE this feature and find it UBER important when choosing a ROM for my Rooted Note 3.

  • Adrayven

    Nice

  • Guest

    So I guess this means that developers who are part of iOS 8 beta get access to this now instead of having to wait? hmm…maybe I should become a developer…

    edit: just remembered that not all features are even available in the first stage of the beta.

  • Justin Merithew

    With all the upcoming features in iOS 8 I’m tempted to finally give an iPhone a shot. I just don’t know how I’ll like it compared to Android.

    • Nurdface Gamerhandz

      I did a soak test, ran both my droid and my iPhone, and after going through five different droids in a span of six months, I finally dropped my last (the G Flex) and ran with a 5S and an unlocked Lumia. Android hasn’t offered me anything new since 4.1, iOS and WP continue to innovate.

      • superg05

        in what way?

      • Chris

        You do realize all the functionality in iOS 8 has existed in Android since 2011… So yeah iOS ‘continue’ to innovate = them implementing what Android already has.

        There are a lot of innovation that happened since 4.1 most of it is directly in the kernel – ART compared to Dalvik, additional functionalities in the interactive notifications, lockscreen widgets, changes to the Bluetooth stack, etc. I can go on but hey you already think Android hasn’t been ‘innovative’.

        • graywolf323

          since when does Android let you sync SMS texts with your computer?

  • Ara

    Is this based on UMA or SIP? I heard a rumour that T-Mobile had cancelled their UMA service?

    • Alex Zapata

      This is an IMS implementation, and if I recall correctly TMO’s WiFi calling implementation is OneVoice compliant.

  • superg05

    I’m glad apple can’t get in trouble from borrowing from android Samsung does nothing but copy apple

    • corona10

      That just made no sense.

      • superg05

        lol sarcasm apple is nothing but an over valued Hippocrates

        • HotWifi

          Ummm, nonsense does not equal sarcasm. Get hooked on phonics…

        • Jason

          Perhaps using punctuation occasionally would help. I’m also not sure how crates housing hippos have anything to do with this topic.

  • dm33

    I’m running iOS8. I don’t see a way to enable it. Cam… let me know if you hear details about how to enable it, or if its even in the preview.

    • Dark enV

      I’m not sure if they’re gonna have it available for the first few betas. Could be wrong though

      • frank

        It won’t be on any betas, tmobiles carrier update will supply wifi calling once its officially released

        • Dark enV

          Ah good to know thanks for the info

  • Dark enV

    Finally! So happy to hear I can get WiFi calling on my iPhone, definitely a feature that I’ve wanted since switching to T-Mobile. iOS 8 overall looks great liking the new features, won’t upgrade to the betas just yet, gonna wait till it gets a bit more stable.

  • Liam

    How does wifi calling work internationally? If I am in say Germany, and want to call back a restaurant there using my hotel’s wifi and using Wifi Calling – will I be charged the 20 cent a minute International Rate? Or will it be free since it is over wifi?

    • kevev

      Yes you will be charged the International Rate. This is because your call is still being routed over the internet to T-Mobile U.S. phone switches which need to pay tariffs to route your call over the telecom backbone under the sea. You may be better off getting a burn phone and a local German SIM when calling numbers in that country.

      • Steffen Wang

        Or he can just use T-Mobile’s roaming data and then use some VoIP program with minutes loaded. I find local german SIMs pretty difficult to get an account for, but its always a possibility if you can get a german friend to help

      • Stephen

        no, this is just flat wrong. I’ve been using Tmobiles wifi calling all over the world and you do not get charged when wifi calling is connected. Calls back to the US are part of your normal minujtes. proof — see http://support.t-mobile.com/docs/DOC-9997

        • pcjnyc

          If one is on the Simple Choice plan, Wi-Fi calls from one of
          the 120+ countries (Germany included) back to the States are free. A call to a local (for example, German) number is 20 cents a minute on Wi-Fi or on roaming partner’s network.

        • seancaldwell

          the original questions was if the caller was IN Germany and wanted to call a restaurant IN Germany, would wifi calling be free. I’ve not had that experience, but wanted to clarify the original question. It was not about a call BACK to the US.

      • UMA_Fan

        You are just plain wrong here. When you are in another country and are on WiFi Calling you are bypassing what normally would be international roaming with that local country’s network. So it’s no difference to T-Mobile from a cost perspective to call people in the US. Being all the way across the world and using WiFi Calling is no different than being stuck in a deep basement in the US and using WiFi Calling. There’s no roaming at all your phone just behaves as it’s in the US and hooked up to a T-Mobile US tower.

    • Mark

      If you’re in Germany, it’s one of the Simple Global countries. Using wi-fi calling means it’s free to call to the US. Calling without it would be $.20 per minute.

      • Liam

        Gotcha, well at least I would be able to call home no problem. 20 cents a minute isn’t terrible.

        I wonder how reliable FaceTime Audio is over the Edge network we get unlimited on.

        • bob90210

          FaceTime on EDGE is very reliable; you can always rely on it to not work. EDGE averages about 200kbps and that’s about minimum need for FaceTime (assume low quality video and not a lot of movement in the video). But the killer is the 1 second latency.

        • Adam

          The unlimited international networks are typically not Edge. They are normal 3G/4G networks (depending on the frequency capabilities of your phone), but your bandwidth is limited to around 130kbps. Surprisingly enough, this is enough to provide a quality connection. It turns out that 3G/4G at 2G speeds is much more reliable/usable than T-Mobile’s Edge, which is pretty terrible in my opinion.

          I’m not 100% sure it’s enough bandwidth to support a video call, but it should handle a voice call over data just fine (so, free!)

      • http://rosarynovice.stblogs.com/ Augustine

        But incoming calls over WiFi are free.

    • UMA_Fan

      The simplest way to think about it is when you are on WiFi Calling your phone thinks you are in the US and you are billed as such.

  • Paul

    This update in NO WAY destroys Android, for those that insist it’s a “game changer.” I’m not dissing the iOS update at all. I’ve accepted that Android and iOS are about on par, each offering some unique features.

    I am glad to see that they push one another. I’m sure at the Google I/O conference we’ll see some new features for Android. It’s really just down to which UI you prefer. Personally, I like Android but I tip my hat to the iOS.

    • Cam Bunton

      I agree, from the end user standpoint as it is, it doesn’t appear to be a game changer. A lot of the features are “catch up” for sure.

      But, for people who already use mostly Apple products, the continuity features between devices are fantastic. And, for developers, the Metal and Swift programs are two new programming tools that will make console-quality graphics and even simpler developing a reality. So you could see a big gap in game quality between iOS and Android, and more developers opting for iOS because it’s so much simpler to develop. These difference make their way to the end user experience eventually.

      But still, none of it matters to me until the iPhone has a larger display. Which – let’s hope – is coming later this year.

      • $15454173

        I might make the JUMP and see whats on the other side. Being on JUMP I have two new phone choices to use this year.

      • Paul

        There are pros and cons to creating a programs and language specific to a product line or device. It could be easy to grab and go, or be something altogether new for programmers and developers. It does help centralize and equalize the quality brought to the iDevices and OS.

        This might also be a catalyst for Google to make its own programs for developers in respect to Chrome OS and Android. This seems logical after Google has decided to reign in the manufacture’s flexibility with Android.

        As a graphic designer I’m less inclined to learn a new program, especially if it’s not Adobe based, unless it’s very specific to a client/job/career. I can see the good in this, but only time will tell if the game play and quality show a difference between iPhones and Android devices. We shall see, Cam. We shall see.

    • $15454173

      Good post.

      • Paul

        Thank you, I appreciate your compliment.

    • Dark enV

      I appreciate good posts like this. I love both android and iOS but I’m more partial to iOS myself. Just my preference as a user and I’m really liking the new features of iOS 8.

      • Paul

        I accepted, not that long ago, that they’ve hit the point that you just prefer one over the other. They offer similar and unique experiences with and over the other. It’s not fair to say one is superior to the other being that they are very much alike in many respects. I’m hoping to read how iOS users rate the updates over iOS7.

        BB on the other hand…ha ha.

        I also appreciate your compliment. I try to offer some substance to the conversation in the forums.

    • PMB01

      It’s more than just the UI; the biggest factor is definitely the ecosystem. If you’re already an Apple user, you’re better off sticking with an iPhone. Windows users can go either way, but skew toward Android (or even WP). If you’re in an industry that chooses to develop mostly for iOS (like myself), your choice is made for you. While many apps are available on both platforms, some offer better experiences on one or the other and that can be a decision-maker as well.

      I do appreciate anything coming from a fellow Paul :)

  • Alex Zapata

    Now here’s a question for anyone in the know: which features will be included with WiFi calling on iOS 8? Will it only be calls + SMS or will MMS work as well?

    • notyourbusiness

      I bet it will be both.

  • Alexander

    Wow Apple, welcome to 2007! BlackBerry has had WIFI calling built-in to their phones for 7 years now.

    • bob90210

      T-Mobile officially supported the iPhone last year. Sprint started their wifi calling support this year. Neither AT&T nor Verizon has wifi calling. So Apple had no reason to add wifi calling to iOS since none of the US carriers that sold iPhones had wifi calling until recently.

    • Nearmsp

      The BB was UMA, which had a handshake from Wi-Fi calling to network calling and vice versa. The current Wi-Fi calling does not have that ability.

    • UMA_Fan

      Yet it’s something Google has yet to support natively. So this is a pretty big deal.

  • Nearmsp

    There was one more feature which I needed and that is also coming in fall to iOs, and that is the swype key board. Apple is allowing third party keyboards and also introducing swype type features in fall. I am looking forward to passing on my SGS 5 and wife’s SGS4 for two sweat iPhone’s in fall. I find the SGS 5 too heavy.

    • KingCobra

      Welcome back to iOS

  • zx6guy

    How about for the Moto X or the Nexus line?

  • SEBA

    Wow, wifi calling? What a improvement! Not!

    • Matt

      That might be enough to make me come back to T-Mobile.

      • SEBA

        Wouldn’t be easier to get a real phone? It would be payed off already, plus you would save few $$$

        • notyourbusiness

          Real phone? PAYED??? Can you please spell easy words correctly?

        • SEBA

          Dude, I rather spell paid as payed then be at home without service that you PAY for. By the way did I mention you should get real phone that supports WiFi calling?

        • PMB01

          He gave you a chance to redeem yourself and you only regurgitated your dumbass comment. Typical Apple hater.

    • Paul

      Being in the middle of nowhere with no signal, from any carrier, is where WiFi calling would be a blessing upon any device owner. Now iPhones will have that ability, especially in building where signal weak. It’s not an improvement to iOS, but it’s a fantastic feature that iPhone owners will appreciate.

  • Nat

    I hate wifi calling. When I go to make a call and the phone says I need to be hooked up to wifi… Where’s the lightning speed 4 lte ? Such a PITA…..

    • schweddyballs

      Lol, then TURN IT OFF.

    • dtam

      or you can set it so that cellular connection is preferred so it only uses wifi when there is no cell signal

  • Brian

    So it looks like Apple is trying to do what BlackBerry has been doing for T-mobile for years with the wifi calling. Even better is the fact that BBM is cross platform and already allows you to make voice calls through BlackBerry Messenger, whether you are on wifi or not. Video calls will be coming soon as well.

    For all of you iSheep out there, here’s some good reading about the new boooooooring OS that Apple just made a big deal about:

    http://money.cnn.com/2014/06/03/technology/mobile/apple-wwdc-android-windows/index.html?hpt=hp_t3

    • trife

      Championing Blackberry and calling iOS boring.

      Dat irony.

      Enjoy your nearly outdated tech, good sir.

      • Steve

        That’s great… But it’s BlackBerry… : /

        S

  • johnediii

    The real question for me is, will this work universally in iOS assuming the carrier supports it, or will you have to buy a T-Mobile branded iPhone? This is important as bringing an unlocked phone from AT&T and not having to buy a handset is one of the great benefits of switching to T-mobile.

    • Evan

      If I had to guess, I’d say it’s universal, because Apple doesn’t tend to let carriers touch the software at all. Wifi-calling is software based, not hardware based (but requires deeper sftware access than just an app can get).

      • PMB01

        It’ll likely be a setting like Personal Hotspot that’ll be available depending on whether your carrier supports it. Should be something you set and forget like iMessage.

    • Brian

      See my comment below about using the BBM app to make calls via wifi (or even not on wifi….someone overseas with the app downloaded on their Android, iOS or. BlackBerry device can also call you, and vice versa, for free at anytime).

      • johnediii

        Sorry, but Blackberry is ancient history. I’ve never owned one. I do not intend to ever own one and the company will not exist in a very few years. Not to mention the whole reason for having Wifi calling is so that if somebody dials my cell phone number it gets to my cell phone. If it’s a business contact sitting at his desk and I’m in a low coverage area for T-Mobile, like the basement of my house, I can still get it without trying to make my customers download apps. BBM or any other VOIP solution is unacceptable for my needs in that regard.

    • Paul

      So far T-Mobile and Sprint, from what I’ve read, are the only ones of the big 4 that offer this with devices. Being active on XDA, I can tell you that the WiFi calling will not work with AT&T.

  • seancaldwell

    I wish T-Mobile would somehow bring this to the Nexus 5.

  • William Burr Winans

    Does anyone have any idea whether if T-Mobile is going to do HD Voice on Wi-Fi Calling?