I’ve been a customer of Line2 / Toktumi for almost two years, and recently I’ve canceled my service. Not much has been written about the service, so I thought I’d share my thoughts.
Line2 is missing features in some key areas and I’ve grown tired of dealing with their absence. Some of the missing features are because of Apple’s iOS restrictions and others are simply missing because Line2 never implemented them.
Features missing because of iOS restrictions:
- Integration with iOS’s Phone app. This means actions like tapping a phone number in a web page, dialing via my car’s Bluetooth interface, or having Siri place a call for me do not route my calls through Line2, thus revealing my iPhone’s real phone number, which previously I never wanted to do.
- Answering a phone call requires unlocking my iPhone and entering my PIN before I can answer a call.
Features missing because Line2 / Toktumi never implemented them:
- Receiving texts (SMS) via email. All major mobile phone carriers provide an email address that will route texts to your phone. As Line2 / Toktumi never implemented this, I’ve been unable to receive text messages on my Line2 number from sources like Nagios pages or many of those free iOS texting apps. I’ve never received an adequate answer from Line2 about this glaring omission. People expect texts to “just work” and not supporting this particular use of texting catches a lot of people off guard.
- Sending and receiving photos or videos via text (MMS) has never been implemented either. I don’t need this very much, but I have missed out on a few photos friends have tried sending me.
I know that implementing some of these features is made artificially difficult by the horrors of business relationships with mobile carriers, however the fact that Line2 doesn’t have an obvious page on their site that points out these huge omissions is damning. It means they hope their customers won’t notice these missing features until they’re already committed by having ported their number over.
One of the major reasons I was using Line2 was because I was on AT&T. For a long time, they were the only U.S. carrier that had the iPhone, and I wanted one, so I had to use AT&T. Their coverage of the entire state of California is, without a doubt, the worst of all carriers. Everywhere I’ve lived, worked and traveled to in California over the last couple of years has barely had any service at all.
The worst place for coverage in San Diego County is where I used to work, in the Torrey Pines area of La Jolla. Despite the high business density there, you usually have, at most, one bar of signal strength. The vast majority of calls one receives via AT&T go directly to voicemail because your phone can’t stay on the network reliably. As this is where I spent most of my days working, I had to do something to make sure I could receive calls. That’s what made me start using Line2 long ago. My office building had amazingly reliable WiFi service (I built it myself) and as long as I was in that building, I always received my calls.
However, I no longer work there, and Verizon carries the iPhone now. Thus, one of the major reasons I had for using Line2 is now gone.
Not On Call Anymore
The final reason I was using Line2 was to defend my sleep from interruptions. If something broke in the night, I had to be reachable by phone or page to fix it. This meant I couldn’t turn my ringer off at night. The unfortunate problem here is that I also received many phone calls from sales zombies, many of which were based on the east coast. They start their spamming at 8AM ET, which is 5AM PT. There’s nothing worse than having your phone ring at 5AM, waking up thinking you have to fix something, only to have to tell some brainless jackass that, no, you’re not interested in their shit.
Line2 gave me a great way of handling that. I set the service up such that any phone calls received after 11PM or before 9AM didn’t ring my phone. Instead, callers were sent to a menu that said “I’m unreachable. If this is an emergency that requires my immediate attention, press 1. Otherwise, leave a message.” This let people who really needed me when I was asleep get through, and everyone else would just leave a message. (Except this one sales zombie who actually did press 1. I had an interesting conversation with that guy.)
However, I changed jobs, and for the first time in 11 years, I’m not on call anymore.
So, there you have it. Line2 is an interesting, mostly reliable service, but with some shortcomings depending on how you use it. Calls to my Line2 number would sometimes go straight to voicemail, or go nowhere at all, though this happened rarely. Once all my reasons for needing it were gone, I had Verizon port my number to them. This was easy, though it did take a long time (about 8 days.)