Hushed App: First Impressions

Adding virtual numbers on your mobile phone

Hushed promises “end-to-end encrypted messaging and unlimited private disposable phone numbers, and SMS messaging”. It offers the ability to have a second or even several telephone numbers on your phone using the Hushed App, and you can choose from telephone numbers from 45 countries.

Though Hushed targets those who need an alternative number for security reasons (such as using a different number for dating), it also appeals to to travelers wishing to avoid roaming charges or those who would like an overseas number which friends and relatives abroad can call at the price of a local call. So, for example, someone who has many relatives and friends in Australia may wish to get an Australian number.

Lifetime US Number

A couple of weeks ago, Bitsdujour made an offer that I couldn’t refuse: a lifetime US or UK mobile number with 500 minutes and 1100 SMS every year for the one-off price of $25. It was very good timing for I plan to travel to the US next month. Signing up was easy, as was downloading and setting up the app on my Android phone. For as long as I use it at least once every six months, I have a US number for life.

After a couple days of use, I discovered the following:

  • I could send texts to US numbers and receive texts from US numbers, but not to/from non-US numbers.
  • I could not call non-US numbers but I could receive calls from non-US numbers

My question was: if I bought credits, would I be able to send texts and make calls to non-US numbers? I also was not sure if I was charged for incoming calls, though I assumed I wasn’t. I sent an email to Hushed support (as there did not seem to be a number to call them – strange for a VOIP company!) to get some clarification. A week later, I still had not received a reply. I sent a direct message to the official Hushed Facebook page asking how long support normal takes to reply to emails and they replied that they aimed to reply within 48 hours. They advised me to check my spam folder just in case the reply to my support query had got there and/or resend my query. I did both but, over a week later, I’m still waiting for a response.

No technical support

I contacted Hushed support by email (as I could not find a number to call them – strange for a VOIP company!) to get some clarifications. A week later, I still had not received a reply. I sent a direct message to the official Hushed Facebook page asking how long support normal takes to reply to emails and they replied that they aimed to reply within 48 hours. They advised me to check my spam folder just in case the reply to my support query had got there and/or resend my query. I did both but, over a week later, I’m still waiting for a response.

Philippine number

The terrible customer service should have made me more wary of Hushed but they had one more thing that I wanted: a virtual Philippine number. Over the years, I had searched for VOIP companies for affordable Philippine numbers but those that I found catered to just businesses with prohibitive prices for individuals. Hushed was offering virtual Philippine numbers (but not mobile numbers which means no SMS) on the following monthly plans:

  • seven-day nationwide (15 minutes talk ) for $21.99
  • 30-day nationwide (35 minutes talk) for $24.99
  • 90-day nationwide (75 minutes talk time) for $79.99
  • 30-day international (with $1 pay-as-you-go credit) for $25.99

When I could not resist the temptation of a virtual Philippine number any more, I signed up for Metro Manila number (Cebu and Davao numbers were also available) on the 30-day international plan. On testing, I found that I could receive calls from any number and not just Philippine numbers.

So now I have two numbers on the same Hushed account. It goes without saying that I will keep the US number (I’ve paid for a lifetime subscription, after all) but time will tell if I will keep the Philippine number. The idea of my friends and relatives in the Philippines being able to call me for the price of a local call is very attractive but at $25.99 it’s still quite expensive, and that’s before I consider the additional costs of outgoing calls. To be fair, I intend the Hushed Philippine number primarily for incoming calls as I have other (much cheaper) ways of calling the Philippines.

Last words

The technical support that I have received so far (or lack of it) is disappointing but if Hushed continues to do its job well (i.e., give me global numbers on my mobile phone), I will continue to use it.

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