Onoff gives you a burner number that acts just like a regular line

onoff news rsz cno17gpweaa4rmb
Services like Burner and T-Mobile’s Digits make obtaining a secondary, disposable number as easy as downloading an app. They’re good for putting telemarketers and robocallers off your trail, but they don’t usually make great replacements for your carrier’s number — most leverage an internet connection to place calls, meaning they can’t make or receive calls from mobile and landline numbers. But French startup Onoff is different.

Onoff was founded by Greek-Algerian professional vert skater Taig Khris, an athlete-turned-entrepreneur who won the X Games Inlite Vert event with the first double backflip in X Games history. In 2010, he broke the world record for the highest inline skate jump by dropping from the first floor of the Eiffel Tower onto a massive ramp below, and set a new world record in 2011 for roller skating down a 95-foot ramp in front of the Sacre Coeue Basilica in Paris.

But after repeatedly breaking legs and arms while preparing for events, he decided it was time for a change. It was while lying in a hospital bed that Khris conceived of Onoff: a phone company that stored numbers in the cloud. “I wanted a challenge. I wanted to reinvent the industry,” he said. “Phone numbers are locked inside the SIM card. I wanted to invent a new standard.”

Khris, despite lacking a background in telecoms, invested $6 million to hire a team of engineers to build a telecom network from scratch. “We basically locked ourselves in a room for three years,” he said.

The result of the team’s hard work was Onoff, a service that supplies working telephone numbers to customers in ten countries. But unlike apps that do the same, Onoff lets its subscribers send texts and place calls to both traditional landlines and cellphones.

That’s because there’s more to Onoff is than just a mobile app. It’s what’s known as a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO), a carrier that works atop existing mobile networks to interconnect with major service providers like Sprint, Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile. “We’re totally different than every mobile application,” Khris said. “Our technology is unique because it’s compatible with every major carrier and operating system, allowing more than 98 percent of smartphone owners in the U.S. to use Onoff.”

The details are a little technical, but from a service perspective, having MVNO status means that Onoff can provide inexpensive numbers that work almost anywhere in the world. Onoff users can call and message each other for free using an internet connection, but for $3 a month, subscribers get a number that works across smartphones, tablets, and even cell-enabled smartwatches. Onoff is even launching a web portal in the near future that will let customers place calls from computers.

And Onoff applies intelligence to numbers. Every number has a cloud-based voicemail inbox. Subscribers can schedule text messages, or arrange for the service to reply automatically to messages from certain numbers. And Onoff supports “selective airplane mode,” a feature which allows customers to selectively “switch off” features like SMS, voicemail, and calls on demand. “If you’re in a meeting and you want to receive messages but not calls, it’s really useful,” Khris said.

There’s more to come. A future Onoff app will let subscribers essentially password-protect their secondary numbers: The number, along with its associated text messages and call log, remains concealed from view until the correct password is entered. “It’s good for someone who has a double life,” Khris said. And eventually, subscribers in the U.S. will be able to port their existing numbers to Onoff’s service without charge. (Number porting is already live in France.)

Onoff’s service isn’t without limitations, though. Because it relies on a cellular connection to handle phone calls, its usage is constrained by cell plan minutes — if a user has two hours of calling each bill cycle, for instance, they’ll only be able to use Onoff for those two hours. And international calling isn’t free — the rates vary by country.

But the appeal, Khris said, is far more flexibility than most carriers can afford. “No company in the world can do what we’ve done,” he said. “And we’re planning to grow.”

It’s already a force to be reckoned with. Onoff’s active subscribers number more than 250,000, and the company plans to expand to as many as 30 countries over the next few months. “It’s the future of telecom,” Khris said. “It’s like a world championship, in my mind. If you don’t do it fast, the incumbents are going to come and take your place.”

Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: 1-handed drone control, a pot that stirs itself

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Mobile

Use multiple phone numbers on one device with Verizon’s ‘My Numbers’ app

For those who have separate phone numbers and devices for your work and personal lives, Verizon wants to help you get more organized. With its new "My Numbers" app, you can use up to four additional phone numbers on a single smartphone.
Computing

Latest SMS breach could allow hackers access to your online accounts

A new security breach that exposed more than 26 million text messages could be a huge nightmare for users relying on two-factor authentication. Many of the SMS on the database contained security codes and account reset links.
Computing

Protecting your PDF with a password isn't difficult. Just follow these steps

If you need to learn how to password protect a PDF, you have come to the right place. This guide will walk you through the process of protecting your documents step-by-step, whether you're running a MacOS or Windows machine.
Cars

Uber rolls out rewards program that lets its most loyal riders lock in prices

Uber launched a new loyalty program today called Uber Rewards. It offers frequent riders credits to Uber Eats, car upgrades, and the ability to lock in prices on their most traveled routes.
Gaming

15 tips for keeping your vault-dwellers alive in ‘Fallout Shelter’

The wasteland can be an unfriendly place, if you don't know what you're doing. Here are 15 tips that will help your vault thrive in Fallout Shelter, including information on questing.
Mobile

Motorola Moto G7: Here’s everything we know

The Moto G6 range is still relatively new to the market, but rumors have already started about the Moto G7, which is expected some time in 2019. Apparently, a G7 Power version will be joining the G7, G7 Play, and G7 Plus.
Mobile

T-Mobile's new Revvl 2, Revvl 2 Plus are now available for purchase

Last year, T-Mobile launched its own line of branded smartphones. As a follow-up to their predecessors, the carrier has unveiled the Revvl 2 and Revvl 2 Plus -- complete with a sleeker design. Here's everything you need to know.
Mobile

How to take great photos with the Pixel 3, the best camera phone around

You’ve scored yourself a new Google Pixel 3 or Pixel 3 XL, and you want to take advantage of that incredible camera. We’ve got everything you need to know right here about how to snap the best photos with your Pixel 3.
Wearables

Google's Wear OS update 'H' promises battery life improvements

Google has rebranded its Android Wear operating system to Wear OS. Removing the Android name may help people better understand Google-powered smartwatches, which also play nice with iOS devices. 
Smart Home

Huawei could soon take on Google and Amazon with a new digital assistant

According to a report from CNBC, Huawei is working on a new digital assistant that could try to take on the likes of Google and Amazon's Alexa. Huawei already has a digital assistant in China, but the new one will be aimed at markets…
Mobile

Leak shows a third, budget Google Pixel 3 with a Snapdragon 670, headphone jack

The Google Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL are considered to be two of the best Android smartphones, but it looks like Google could be prepping a third. A budget Pixel 3 device that boasts some of the best features of the other two has been leaked.
Smart Home

All the best Amazon Black Friday deals for 2018

Amazon may be an online-only retailer, but that doesn’t mean its Black Friday sales are anything to sniff at. In fact, due to its online status, Amazon has huge flexibility with the range of products and deals it can offer. Here's our…
Mobile

Need a quick battery boost? Try one of our favorite portable chargers

Battery life still tops the polls when it comes to smartphone concerns. If it’s bugging you, then maybe it’s time to snag yourself a portable charger. Here are our picks of the best portable chargers.