Jangl's calls — free, international and anonymous

Jangl, a Pleasanton, Calif. start-up released a noteworthy little messaging feature this week.

It lets both parties leave messages or talk with each other without using their real numbers. It’s free, even internationally, because it is over VoIP.

How does it plan to make money? It doesn’t — for now.

Here’s how it works: First, let’s say you have only someone’s email address. You can enter their email address on the Jangl homepage, and Jangl will issue a new phone number to call. You call it, and leave a message. Jangl ties that message to the email you gave it, and forwards your voice message in an email (they click on a link to hear an audio message). It also issues a local number for you, so the recipient calls you back, again without having your real number. This saves money on International calls, because it’s done through VoIP. You can do the same with an IM address: Just plug that into Jangl, and it will let you leave a voice message for them via IM.

Once you’ve registered, Jangl will give you a dashboard so you can choose which messages you want to respond to, and it lets you change settings, such as how you want to be reached (phone number, email, etc) or how want to respond when reached (phone, email). Because it lets you call a local number, even when someone is abroad, it is free. You pay for any local minutes your carrier charges you, obviously.

Jangl has also issued a widget. See image above. Here’s how it works: I come a long to your widget, and I type in my real number at top. Note that your number, below, is blurred out, so I don’t see it. Jangl then issues a different phone number for me to call you on, and leave a message. You don’t ever see my real number. You call me back on the same issued phone number. It sounds weird that we share a number. But think of it as a virtual number: Jangl knows our real phone numbers, so can put the calls through to our real phones.

Here’s the tough part. There’s no clear way for the company to make money short-term. The company says it plans for mass adoption first. It will seek to make money by offering premium features or advertising, such as within the widgets, or within calls, but hasn’t made any decisions about this.

We talked about this with chief executive Michael Cerda about these new features a couple of months ago, when the service was still under wraps. We missed the announcement when it went live a couple of days ago. To bring this up to date, Jangl has just integrated the widget service within Facebook.

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