Have you ever been in a situation where you need to make a phone call from your mobile phone but don’t necessarily want your cell phone number showing up as the caller ID? If you have this tip may be the trick for you. Lest you think this only applies for nefarious reasons let me give you some scenarios.
- You are an on call support agent and need to call back but dont want your personal cell number compromised.
- Your are a doctor returning after hours calls.
- You have offices in many cities and want to dial out as a local number.
- You are a small business who wants to insulate their business from their personal life.
- You want to return calls to customers or clients but need to control the number being delivered outbound.
The way we make this work is simple. We use a service called Twilio. Twilio.com is a set of APIs that allow you to interact with voice, text and video communications.. in shot they have boiled these communications into a set of cost effective API calls. For those reading this who are not nerdy – never fear, you don’t need a programmer to make this work.
First you need a Twilio.com account. This is easy, go to www.twilio.com and create an account. You will need to purchase a phone number – this will cost you $1/mo – and you will need to enter your credit card info to convert your account to a valid (not test) account.
Second you need to decide if you want to call using that Twilio number (just purchased) or if you have additional caller ids you wish to verify. You can add any number you have access to as a verified caller id. The process is simple – just add enter the number you wish to verify in the Verify Call.
This is where the flexibility comes into play. For outgoing caller id values you have several choices.
- Add new Twilio numbers in as many cities as you like ($1/mo)
- Add existing land line or cell numbers that you presently own or have access to verify.
Once you have the account created, a phone number purchased and any numbers you wish to verify added you are ready for the next part – the mobile app.
The mobile app we are using is twiDial – www.twidial.com. This app is a basic dialer interface for Twilio. The basic idea is the app can be configured to use your Twilio account to place a call to your cell phone. Once you answer that call you will be bridged to an outgoing call using the Twilio phone number or any verified caller id value your account. Super cool right?
You can check here for the current per minute pricing details: https://www.twilio.com/voice/pricing.
The setup of the app is pretty straight forward but there are some details you need to pay attention to.
Here is a screenshot of the app dialer and the settings pane.
You will notice on the right side you need a few things.
Twilio SID – This is essentially a username value. It is part of what allows the app to use your twilio.com account. It is NOT your Twilio.com username though, so keep reading.
Twilio Token – This is essentially a password value. It is part of what allows the app to use your twilio.com account. It is NOT your Twilio.com password though, so keep reading.
After logging in at Twilio you will see in the top right a drop down arrow. Tap that and select Account.
You need to make note of the API Credentials. You will see there is an AccountSID and an AuthToken. You need both of these to setup the app. Once you have carefully transcribed these beastly numbers tap the Test Twilio Verification button to double check your entries. A confirmation box will alert you if you are successful.
Next in the settings we need to enter is the value for Your Mobile Number. This is the mobile number you have the app installed on. When the call button is pressed this is the number where you are reachable to conduct the call.
The other settings you need is Using Twilio Number. Here you will select one of the twilio numbers you have purchased. When the call is placed to your cell phone it will come from this number. The ultimate destination of the call will not see this number but it is an important part of the process.
Finally we need to enter the desired choices we can use as outgoing caller ID numbers. This is where you can enter either:
- Any of your Twilio phone numbers
- Any of your verified caller id numbers.
By entering these numbers here and clicking the green plus sign you will add them to the list of optional numbers to call using.
That’s all there is to it. You can now local dial using phone numbers from a huge selection of countries for very reasonable per minute costs.
If you are interested in accomplishing the inbound calling side (get Twilio calls routed to your cell phone) of this you will want to check out this post for setting up call forwarding using Twilio numbers.
In the interest of full disclosure, this is my app. I have an interest in the app being purchased, but I also really believe it can be a great help to a great number of folks who need this sort of functionality. The app was built in partnership with Jess Patton who can be contacted here.