Telefónica uses WebRTC for TU Go, as Orange ramps up Libon

Telefónica and Orange announced further enhancements to their respective messaging and calling apps, although the two operators continue to maintain very different strategies for TU Go and Libon.

Telefónica, which ditched its previous TU Me over-the-top (OTT) app in favour of the highly integrated TU Go application that enables users to carry out multiple calls across different devices, said TU Go is now available directly in compatible web browsers for Telefónica customers in the UK and Argentina, with more markets including Peru, Mexico and Brazil coming soon.

The operator said it using WebRTC technology to remove the need to download an application for desktop use and make "cross-device calling and messaging easier than ever".

"When we first launched TU Go in 2013, the aim was to give our customers a connected experience that is reliable, simple and seamless--no matter what device they are using. By taking the lead and putting TU Go directly into the browser we are simplifying cross-device connectivity even further for our customers helping them to stay connected regardless of where they are or what they are doing," said Jorge Serna Pozuelo, TU Go director of products at Telefónica.

Orange, meanwhile, plans to preview a new feature on the Libon OTT app that will support incoming calls on mobile and Wi-Fi networks. The 'Reach Me' feature is to be launched commercially later in the first half of this year.

"Libon with Reach Me stands out from alternatives such as Skype and Viber that require callers to dial a special number, enabling it to be positioned as a pure called-party use case, a practical remedy for poor mobile coverage. Reach Me neatly complements 'Libon Out' calling, although its pricing structure has not yet been decided," said Peter Briggs, senior analyst at Current Analysis.

Briggs noted that the two products from Telefónica and Orange have very different objectives:

"TU Go remains clearly centred on the user's mobile account, but aims to decouple usage from the mobile phone and cellular access by allowing basic calls and text messages to be handled much more flexibly and on multiple devices, over cellular data or Wi-Fi access. Libon is a pure OTT app with joyn-like rich communications features, independent of any Orange mobile account," he said.

Briggs said Telefónica's browser version of TU Go is notable for its step into use of WebRTC technology rather than any significant functionality enhancements or broad applicability. "Indeed incoming call support already in the app and PC versions is not yet there and users are being advised that it 'currently works best on Chrome and Firefox'," he added.

Telefónica clearly has more plans ahead for the TU Go app, and is seeking customer feedback to guide future development of the WebRTC version.

"And this is just the start…with this new WebRTC functionality we open up a world of future potential for TU Go that moves beyond just making calls and texts--watch this space," said Pozuelo.

For more:
- see this Telefónica release
- see this Orange release

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