Since the beginning of time -- or what feels like it -- we've been chained to our homes and desks by landlines. Ten years ago, landlines were the main vehicle of communication, used to run a business or keep in touch with family.
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Although people are spending more time talking on-the-go, most companies and homes still have landlines. After all, it's important (especially as a business) to have a secure number and a stable connection.
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But plenty of services and apps will calm your landline-loving fears. Voice over IP (VoIP) services products like Google Voice and Skype, which make it possible to communicate via phone on the Internet, could save you on expensive phone bills.
If you're ready to free yourself from the landline ball and chain, consider these services your new best friends.
Those who practice the art of Google-fu are likely familiar with the free calling service Google Voice. For anyone without a landline but in need of a second number, Google Voice is the best free option.
Plus, choose your area code, an option that comes in handy when working remotely or running a business -- that way, you don't have to explain when your wacky area code shows up in caller ID.
Google Voice backs everything up and integrates it with other services you might use every day, like Gmail. You can even sync your mobile number so that any calls from Google Voice are pushed to your device via SMS or call. If you'd like to sync the other way around, (to log a backup of your mobile device calls), you can port it to your Google Voice account for $20.
Another great VoIP service, Skype can also substitute as a landline. The free service is especially good for conference calls or Skype-to-Skype activity.
However, if you want to make and receive calls with non-Skype numbers, you can purchase a premium account with a personal number and unlimited calls. Depending where you need to call, unlimited premium services range from $3 to $14 a month.
Let's say you choose the premium service. Now, you have a landline capable of group video calling and group screen sharing, without partner advertising.
Many people rely on landlines because they provide a more secure connection than cellphones, but that can easily inhibit anyone on-the-go.
Instead of waiting around the home or office for a call, use Line2, a free app that lets you add another line to your mobile device. Users can add another phone number or choose one with their own area code.
Line2's strong suit is what the company calls "tri-mode calling." It will first attempt to connect via a Wi-Fi network. If unavailable, it will run on your 3G/4G data network, without using your minutes. As a last resort, Line2 will connect via your cell -- which uses your plan's minutes, but ensures you won't miss a call.
The free app is available for Android and iOS -- meaning you can even receive calls from an iPad.
2. Where's My Phone?
We constantly live with the fear of losing our phones, or even worse, getting them stolen, whereupon all important contacts and data go with them.
If you lose your phone, you can always purchase another one; however, it's important to have your data backed up -- as it is with any device, these days. That's where cloud-based services come in, which are also integral solutions for giving up your landline
If you simply can't find your phone around the house or office, and there's no one around to call the device, head to sites like wheresmycellphone.com, which will call your phone for free.
Forgot Your Phone Android app will push all of your phone's call or SMS activity to a separate phone's SMS. For instance, once the app is downloaded to your phone, you can send a text from a friend's phone at any time to receive alerts. If you don't have access to a friend's phone, route alerts to a VoIP service like Google Voice.
3. Blocking Numbers
Another advantage to utilizing a mobile device as a landline? The ability to block numbers. How many times have you repeatedly asked a telemarketer to take your number off a list? (And how many times have they "accidentally" called again?)
There are a number of ways to block numbers, depending on your carrier or service. Google Voice is the easiest to set up, and you can still have blocked calls sent to voicemail.
Some carriers charge fees for blocking calls. AT&T's Smart Limits cost $5 per month; Verizon will block up to five callers at a time for free -- however, each block only lasts for three months until you have to enter it again. (You can pay $5 a month for a more secure blocking service.) For T-Mobile, call 611 and a customer service representative will help you.
Finally, some of us miss the chord and handset of a traditional desktop phone. Luckily, there are plenty of accessories to fix that problem.
AudiOffice is a dock equipped with speakers for iOS devices. It plays music, makes calls and -- when integrating apps such as Skype and FaceTime -- allows users to video chat. You don't have to be tied to the computer to use it.
You can also attach one of Native Union's POP phones, a working retro handset that plugs into your phone. The company also sells wireless Bluetooth handsets, some with a dock that will simultaneously charge your iPhone and sync iTunes.
Lastly, if you're nostalgic for bulky technology, check out the cases from Mofones. The cases don't have any working features, but they will disguise your sleek cellphone as a clunky home phone. Win.
This story originally published on Mashable here.