We can’t get enough of our Android phones here at 888VoipStore, in fact most of us just got the latest batch of phones from our carriers such as the Droid X for those on Verizon and the Samsung Vibrant (a Galaxy S phone) for myself on T-Mobile. While our old Blackberry’s did great on e-mail, they just weren’t up to the task of making VoIP calls over SIP. Even though there were already several SIP clients available on Android, 3CX decided to go in-house and put some dedicated developer resources to the task of creating the best SIP softphone available for the Android platform (and coming soon to iPhone). In this article we will walk through the basic steps of getting your 3CXPhone for Android up and running.
Getting the Softphone Installed on Your Android Device
Let’s face it, the Android Market is not the most user friendly method of finding apps that you want to use and even though you may be searching on the right thing, sometimes your results are not as good as you would expect. You can go to the Android Market directly from your Android-based based and search for 3CXPhone and it should come right up. Some alternative ways to get the 3CXPhone installed are as follows:
One of my favorite Android tools is AppBrain.com. Install the AppBrain app and the Quick Web Installer and you can easily to over-the-air installs of almost any app in the Android Market. If you already have AppBrain just go to http://www.appbrain.com/app/com.tcx.sip.ui to install the 3CXPhone.
Bar Code Reader
The Android community has embraced using QR codes to provide links to different applications. If you have the Bar Code Reader or Google Goggles app on your phone, simply scan this strange looking image here and you will get a link directly to the 3CXPhone in the Android Market.
Once you have the 3CXPhone installed, go ahead and launch it and then we can start working on the setup and configuration.
Press the Menu key on your phone and click on the Profiles icon to get into the configuration screens. If this is your first time, click on the Add New button to create a new profile. Note that you can have multiple profiles if need be.
Note: Pressing the icon next to the profile name will select it, while pressing on the name/IP will go into the edit functions.
Usually a single profile will work internally and externally but in some cases you may need different settings and options if you are outside your normal network so being able to have multiple profiles and easily switch between them can be a nice bonus.
Creating a Profile
Under the Password setting enter the SIP password (secret on some systems) for the extension you are setting up.
Under the Internal Server setting use the IP or Hostname of the PBX system that you would use when connected to the same local area network as the phone system.
Under External Server use the public IP address or hostname that you would use to access the PBX from outside of the local network.
Generally you probably want this set to ‘Always’ to make sure incoming calls come in as this will prevent the WiFi from going into sleep mode. This can also be set to ‘When Powered’ so it only keeps the WiFi on when the phone is being charged.
Most Android phones have a Proximity Sensor that will dim the screen and disable the keyboard when you have the phone next to your face. This is done to cut down on battery usage from having the screen on and also to prevent accidental key presses. We recommend you turn this on.
You will need to test this with your carrier. We have found that calls do not currently work right when using 3G on T-Mobile while some people have said it works on Verizon. If you cannot get calls to work properly then disable this setting.
Redirect Normal Calls
This is potentially the coolest feature as it allows your SIP extension to be the primary method of making outbound calls even when using the regular phone dialer. If you are in your office and using your phone as your extension then you definitely want this turned on.
Finally just hit the Return key to move back to the primary settings screen, press the Save button to save your settings, and then tap on the profile to activate it.
Now you are ready to start making and receiving phone calls.
If you are not getting the phone registered, start with setting it up on the same network as the phone system, and double-checking that the SIP login and password are correct.
Automatic Provisioning Using 3CX – The Windows-based IP PBX System
So far, the instructions given will work on pretty much any SIP-based IP PBX system since the 3CXPhone is really just a standard SIP client. With any system you would need to know how to create the extension and then go to the 3CXPhone and get it configured. However, if you are using the 3CX Phone System, much of this work can be done for you.
The following steps will show you how to mostly-automatically setup the 3CXPhone with 3CX. Keep in mind that this is the first incarnation of this and Nick Galea, 3CX’s CEO assures me that this is going to be improved on in the very near future.
The only real requirements here is that you have the latest version of 3CX Phone System version 9 and the Android device needs to have the 3CXPhone installed on it. The Android device must be connected to the same local area network as the phone system during this setup because they will be communicating with each other and need to be on the same network in order for that to work. Once setup, you can then take it outside the local network and it will continue to function.
When the phone app launches and there are no existing profiles a screen will appear telling you that no profiles have been found and asking if you would like to try to auto provision the phone. If you select No, then you will be able to configure the phone manually as shown above. If you select Yes then the 3CXPhone will send out a multicast message to try to inform the 3CX Phone System that the device is there and is ready to be configured.
Once you select Yes the 3CXPhone will switch to a screen telling you that it is waiting for a profile. At this time you are ready to go into your 3CX Administration tool to setup the extension.
Step 2 – Configure the Extension
The first step is to go into the Phones module. If everything worked right you should see the 3CXPhone for Android device in the list. If you select this, then you can click on the Add New Extension Button and create a new extension for the device.
Note: Nick Galea tells me that this process will be improved with better dialogs and the ability to assign the 3CXPhone to existing extensions as well. As I mentioned, this is the first version of both 3CX and the 3CXPhone for Android to have any of these features, so it will be improved as soon as possible.
Once you select to add a new extension, the extension manager screen will come up with the standard array of settings, feel free to change any of the settings on this screen to match how you want the extension to be configured.
Once you apply the changes they will be pushed out to the phone and the screen will change to the Profiles screen. You can now either select the extension and edit it or select the box next to it to activate it and return to the main phone screen where the phone will attempt to register with your 3CX system.
It doesn’t get much easier than this and knowing that these processes will continue to improve is a really big leap forward for the 3CX Phone System in making the provisioning and management of SIP clients on smart phones easier and easier.