For ages now our phone numbers have been completely tethered to the networks in the UK. In the US, though, Google Voice has given people a real phone number that's not tied to a particular contract or phone, allowing you to get calls or texts to any device, not just your phone and not just one phone either. Now Yuilop promises to do the same thing, and it's just become available in the UK.
Yuilop is based on VoIP just like Skype, meaning you have a calling app on your phone (iOS/Android/WP/BlackBerry), which connects to the outside world over your data connection. Unlike regular Skype, though, you have a real mobile phone number, one that can be called from a normal landline. Yuilop calls it a cloud number, and apparently it's the first of its kind to launch in the UK with real, standard "07" British mobile numbers.
To the person calling you, or you're calling, it'll seem like a regular phone call, making it a seamless extension of your phone. There's also the promise of free calls and texts to other Yuilop users and you'll earn credit for each call or text received from outside the network. Calling non-Yuilop users requires PAYG credit, where £4 buys you 300 credits and each text costs you three credits, which works out at about 4p a text. Texts you receive will earn you 2.5 credits, so if you get more than you send you could end up making enough credits for an endless supply of texts to normal people.
The biggest draw about this kind of thing has to be the ability to disconnect your phone number from a phone contract. You can take it abroad with you, no problem, from phone to phone, from device to device, making your phone number just another app that follows you around. O2's doing that with its Tu Go service, which we loved, but that's still tied to O2 and its tariffs. We've been waiting for what seems like eons for Google Voice to make its way over here, and while it's not Google, Yuilop could be the answer we've all been waiting for. [Yuilop via Wired]