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AOL To Launch Web Phone APIs

The Open AIM Phoneline initiative means to encourage hardware and software makers to build more consumer-oriented VoIP features into their wares.

AOL on Thursday said it would introduce in the fall three application-programming interfaces for manufacturers and developers to build products for the portal's Internet telephony service.

AOL hopes the Open AIM Phoneline initiative would encourage the building of devices and software that add functionality that consumers find attractive. AIM Phoneline is a voice over Internet protocol service that provides PC-to-PC and PC-to-telephone calling.

One API would provide the ability to add personalized ring tones, a feature that's become popular among mobile phone users. Another would allow manufacturers to build speakerphones and phone adapters that use a computer's USB port. The adapters could be used to allow standard cordless phones to initiate and receive calls over AIM Phoneline, AOL said.

Finally, the third would let developers build new call management functionality, such as context and relevance-based call handling that could treat each call on the basis of rules set for Caller ID, online presence, calendar activities and more.

AOL, a division of Time Warner Inc., plans to demonstrate use of the APIs at next week's VON 2006 conference in Boston. Companies whose products would be featured include VoIP software maker Iotum, MyNuMo, an online community that enables artists to create, show and sell digital content; and device maker Mvox Technologies, which is expected to demonstrate the use of its wireless and USB speakerphones with AIM Phoneline.

As part of the initiative, AOL plans to promote companies' products at an online store that users can access through a link on the AIM Phoneline dashboard. AOL is hoping the new program will be as successful as a similar initiative for its instant messaging service. The Open AIM program has more than 50,000 registered developers, AOL said.

To jumpstart the latest initiative, AOL has launched a contest that would award $3,500 to the developer of the most innovative and useful application for the APIs. The second-place finisher would get $1,000. The contest runs Sept. 11 through Nov. 30, and the winner would be announced Jan. 31, 2007.

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