For those with families in foreign countries, it can get difficult to stay in touch as much as desired, but the new app PopTalk helps pay the cost of international calls.
PopTalk places ads on your phone's lock screen, which pay for minutes on the app which can be used for calling or texting any cell phone or landline around the world. "My co-founder and I met when we were both at goggle, we were co-leading the team on Adwords, and he had a background in telecomm, having founded a company in telecomm before. I had a background in ads having worked at google," co-founder of PopTalk Sara Choi said. "We came together and thought, 'Why not harness the power of ads to do something that really does a big impact.' Because if you think about it we see advertisement alot in a lot of different places, but we don't really get any value from it."
PopTalk is a free application allows Android users (iOS to follow in March) to call or SMS any phone for free by simply renting their smartphone lockscreens to sponsors, receiving credits every day by using their phones normally. Users can also use the credits to pay for their relatives’ cellphone service and data in Latin America.
Poptalk offers the highest-quality voice service with rates that are just a fraction of calling cards (30x-100x) and local carriers (10x) so every free credit gets you an abundance of minutes and texts. For example, the average Poptalk user can call a Mexican landline for 600 minutes every month, for free.
"With PopTalk, you are being the ads on your lock screen, which in return you are getting free calls, text and prepaid data all around the world," Choi said.
For users concerned how the battery life of the phone will be affected, it will all depend on how the user decides to use the lock screen ads.
"It only affects the battery life as much as you view the ad," Choi said. "If you think about it we are only renting the phone's lock screen to our sponsors."
The battery life will only be affected by playing around with the ad or following the URL, it's all on how the user decides.
"If you download PopTalk and enable and the lock screen takes over, then on average our users are checking their lock screen 80 to 100 times per day," Choi said. "Then from the money we are making from ads we are returning, actually, 100 percent back to the user."
That makes on average about 600 minutes for those using PopTalk to call Mexico.
The creators of the app are focused primarily on Latin America and immigrants here in the United States, but the app can be used to call any phone number.
"Latin America actually has the highest telecomm rates in the world," Choi said. "On average, if you have a cell phone in Latin America, you are spending eight percent of your income on your phone bill."
Choi said that it was communication is too expensive for too many people.
"Our whole mission, since day one, has always been to help people stay connected and get online," Choi said. "Victor and I both come from immigrant families and the cost to stay connected are ridiculously high."
The route of going for a free option to stay connected, rather than a pay-as-you-go service, took longer to develop, but Choi said she is happy they took the extra time to develop it so everyone can benefit from it.