Daily iPhone App: Bridge Call Dialer speeds conference calling

As much as we love the multitasker flexibility of the iPhone, there are situations where you might find it slightly inconvenient to have your email, notepad, address book and phone all stacked atop one another on a touchscreen. Most business professionals experience one of those situations on a regular basis: the simple (or not so simple) conference call.

Sure, if your meeting host is using an integrated service that supports iOS directly (WebEx, GoToMeeting, Fuze Meeting etc.) then it's one-button easy to join the call via VoIP or a callback. But most of the time, you'll find yourself jotting down a bridge number and PIN on a piece of paper, or switching between apps hastily to memorize the access code before the voice prompt times out. Not ideal.

That's why I'm so fond of AHUB's $1.99 iPhone utility Bridge Call Dialer. The feature list is brief and the interface utilitarian (at best), but what it does it does oh so well. If you've got a calendar appointment with a conference call number listed, pop open BCD and it will scan through the event description.

Tap once to enter the bridge number, again to capture the PIN, and then tap "call." Watch, pleasantly relaxed, as BCD hands off the dial string to the Phone app, complete with pauses and octothorpes, to join you to the conference.

The current version of BCD lets you save one-click "frequent calls" detail so you can quickly rejoin a regularly scheduled phone meeting. You can also associate a conference call number and PIN with a particular iPhone contact; that way, whenever that person sends you a meeting invite, their conference info will be prepopulated automatically.

New in BCD 3.0 is the ability to specify a VoIP app to handle calls selectively (on WiFi or when they're internal PBX calls), rather than using the iPhone's built-in phone. Configuring your VoIP tool in BCD requires that the dialing app support a URL scheme to hand off the number, which not all apps do; Talkatone is explicitly supported, and it looks like Acrobits SIP, Line2 and the open-source Siphon all have the ability to take a call handoff. I'd love to try it with Skype or Bria, which are my go-to apps for calls, but it may take some tweaking.

The next time you reach for a pen and paper before a conference call, consider a $2 investment in streamlining your day and treat yourself to a license for BCD.