Introducing FrontlineCloud

Today, we’re proud to introduce FrontlineCloud: the next generation of FrontlineSMS, the world’s most popular professional text message management platform. It’s been a little while since you’ve heard from us, and there’s a reason for that: we’ve been listening and we’ve been building.

Our users come from over 135 countries, connecting on hundreds of mobile networks using thousands of devices in order to reach millions of people. The challenges they face range from pricing to coverage to culture, and we’ve been working for the last eight years to make each problem easier to solve. After 100,000 downloads - and exponential growth in the last two years - we know we’re onto something.

We built FrontlineCloud because we believe that solving problems starts with finding better ways to work together. This product is designed to make it easier to communicate with the people around you and work together to solve the problems you face. By combining the power of Internet computing with the reach and accessibility of mobile phones, we’re taking the first step toward the multi-platform future that we all know lies ahead. FrontlineCloud is the first line we’ll draw between the growing number of dots in the mobile communications space. There are a lot of reasons this is significant- but let’s start with what’s new and what’s different.

Reasonable Pricing. Without Limits.

FrontlineSMS is, and will always be, free and open source software. We’ve had a lot of generous support in building FrontlineSMS and we believe you deserve the same from us. FrontlineCloud, though, is a software-as-a-service offering, for which we’ll charge a modest subscription fee. There are a lot of reasons for that, but there’s one that’s more important than the rest: we want to work for you, our users, and you alone. In every company around the world, the people who pay for the service make the decisions that matter. For us to be able to give you the pricing, tools, data protections, and customer service we believe you deserve, we need that to be you. That said, we believe that you shouldn’t have to pay more to reach all your contacts, have multiple numbers, or send as many messages as you want. You deserve to be as connected as you can, as cheaply as you can. As an organization that builds tools, we don't want to penalize you for using them- nor do we think we deserve to make more money because you enjoy doing so. We’re building for sustainability, not profit, which means that the only thing you’ll ever need to pay us for are the tools you use.

More Connections. More Coverage.

We work everywhere. You can connect FrontlineCloud, in one way or another, to every single mobile network operator in the world- and we give you more ways to do it than any other service provider in the world. More importantly, we don’t want to get in between you and your favorite service provider. We’ll leave the messaging delivery to the local networks, service providers, and hardware set-ups that make you most comfortable. Here’s a quick rundown of different ways to connect:

  • SMSSync- Simply download the SMSSync application to any Android phone, connect to the Internet, and begin sending your messages from the phone to FrontlineCloud. SMSSync is one of the world’s best-known open source gateway applications, made by our good friends at Ushahidi. It’s a great piece of software, it’s free and open-source, and- if you have reliable power and Internet connections for the messaging you want to do in that country, on that network- this is a great way to get local, direct pricing. In many markets, though, providers (or regulators) put limits on the number of messages that are technically (or legally) allowed to go through a single account. For people who work in multiple countries or who want to send more than 100 messages a day, keep reading.
  • Virtualize Your SIM- To get started, all you need to do is buy a local SIM card and then connect to WorldText- one of our aggregator partners. They will “virtualize” your SIM card, meaning they’ll connect your local account and enable you to send and receive messages, anywhere you have an Internet connection. This option is great if you’ll spend some time in the place you want to send messages, but don’t want to have to deal with the hassle of charging, topping up, and ensuring the Internet connectivity of a phone. Still, as with SMSSync, the ability to send messages through a single SIM account may be limited, so if you want to send a LOT of messages, aggregators and virtual numbers are probably your best bet.
  • Aggregators and Virtual Numbers- Possibly the easiest option of all, you can sign up for an account with any of our aggregator partners (more coming soon!) and begin sending messages right away, without ever leaving your chair. Our aggregator partners have direct hook-ups to mobile network operators meaning that you can send as many messages as you want, as instantly as the network is capable of handling. Really. While we certainly understand the value of big volume, we also believe that real connections come from thoughtful, accessible, two-way communications. That’s where virtual numbers come in. In many of the world’s most active mobile markets you can sign up for a local telephone number through the Internet- just like an e-mail address. That means that you get all the ease of use and flexibility of the Internet, with the accessibility of a local number and aggregator pricing. This is just the start for us in virtual numbers and, as markets and our partner list continues to grow, expect to see even more options.

Activities and the Inbox, re-imagined.

You’ll recognize the inbox interface in FrontlineCloud- it’s designed to look exactly like the one in FrontlineSMS. What has changed some, and will continue to change, is what happens under the hood. Our ‘Activities’ function has always helped users structure and automate interactions, reducing the time involved and complexity of interacting with others. For FrontlineCloud, we’ve added “Custom Activities,” letting you design whatever workflow makes the most sense. Maybe more importantly, creating an Activity also creates a folder, meaning that when things are going as they should, messages stay out of your inbox. That also means that when a message needs your attention, when it’s misspelled or just out of the ordinary, it gets your attention right away. That’s right, FrontlineCloud is designed to help you stay at inbox 0.

Your Data. However You Like It.

FrontlineCloud is designed to support you. For some, the tools we’ve built are all that’s necessary, and that’s great. Others already have information management systems in place or want data to go to a variety of places. Regardless of where you find yourself, we want FrontlineCloud to give you full ownership and control of your data- which means we won’t ever keep it without your permission and we’re building as many ways for you to channel it wherever you like, as easily as possible. At the moment, you can export all your data via web connections, .csv files, and .pdf. That’s not enough for us, and we don’t expect it to be enough for you, so expect to see more options, more APIs, and simpler configurability soon.

What’s Next.

FrontlineCloud is a huge leap forward for us and, we believe, for professional mobile messaging. We are exceptionally proud of this product and we think it lays the foundation for our future. That said, we know there’s a lot further to go, and we mean to get there together. That’s why we’re releasing in beta, meaning “in progress.” As you take the time to try FrontlineCloud, we’ll be learning from your experiences- good, bad, and (we hope not too) ugly. In the meantime, though, we’re already hard at work on making FrontlineCloud better. To start, we’re building better connections, a networked ecosystem, and more configurable export options. We’re increasing the number of mobile service providers that integrate with our interface, making it easier to interact with our aggregator partners, and building tools to give you the clearest and best pricing options available. We’re also making it easier to use FrontlineSMS and FrontlineCloud together, so that you can create the systems that fit your organization and work on- or offline, and seamlessly sync whenever you have the bandwidth. And, we’ll build out more sophisticated web connections, configurable structured data, and APIs- tailoring our tools to your work, so you don’t have to do it the other way around. With each of these developments, we’ll continue to improve the look and feel of the software so that your good work doesn’t mean hard work. If you know us, you know that we care most about connecting you. We believe that’s the first step and the best way to begin building the better world that we all want to see. FrontlineSMS and FrontlineCloud are how we know how to do that- and, as you have for eight years, we hope you’ll keep helping us figure out how to do it better. All of which is to say, we hope you like it.