Thursday, January 03, 2013

Why no cell fax?

Notwithstanding that scan+email has largely replaced the fax machine technologically, there are still occasions when someone insists that it’s the only way they can send and/or receive a document from me.  So, why can’t cell phones send and receive faxes?

There is apparently a hard-and-fast technological impediment I’m not aware of.  There are cell phone apps that let you upload a document to a paid service, which will then call the receiving fax machine on your behalf.  But that’s a sorry substitute for an app that has your phone itself dial the fax number and send it directly.

I have read that a fax machine needs a special chip that cell phones don’t have, modems don’t have any trouble, and can’t that functionality be implemented in software now?

The only possibility I can think of is something more fundamental:  land lines communicate at seven bits per sample, whereas maybe cell phones use fewer bits?  And there isn’t a fax protocol for anything less than seven bits?

Does anybody know the answer?

6 comments:

heresolong said...

If I had to guess I'd say that no one has written an app because almost no one uses fax machines anymore. I am always surprised when I am told I can fax stuff in, usually by a government agency.

newrebeluniv said...

I have discovered that whenever someone insists I FAX something to them, it is because they are a moron and don't know that their office can accept a scan image. The new stuff doesn't have FAX capability for the same reason it doesn't have Betamax. It's obsolete. Not worth the time to bother with.

Dr. Φ said...

I agree that the technology is obsolete, but we still use them, so market for a cell fax app ought to exist for that reason. I'm more interested in the tech limitations.

I myself set about to develop a fax app for the palm pre last year while I was unemployed, but couldn't find any documentation of sending data into the phone circuit.

newrebeluniv said...

While you are at it, I could use an app that reads 3.5" floppy discs. My thesis is on one and I can't read it on anything.

Sometimes backward tech is useful. My dad had some old computers and I needed to read the old hard drives to see if they had anything important on them befor tossing them. I found a device that allowed me to plug the drives into a USB port. Very handy thing. But the drives were unresponsive.

newrebeluniv said...

Did you see this already?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/T.38

heresolong said...

Hmm. In that case here are a couple apps I could use:

1) an app to convince people that I don't need to fax stuff to them because they have a perfectly good email address at work

2) an app to allow me to play my records on my Android phone.

And I'd certainly be willing to pay up to $.99 for these.

Thanks.