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How to Make Phone Calls on Web, iOS and Android with Ionic

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How to Make Phone Calls on Web, iOS and Android with Ionic

This blog post takes you through a project that showcases how to build an Ionic app that lets you make a call across three platforms using the Vonage Client SDK. The project for this blog post uses React.

Prerequisites

Set Up Ionic

Ionic can be installed with npm but requires Node.js. Ensure that you have Node.js installed before continuing. Install Ionic with the following command:

npm install -g @ionic/cli

Clone the Project

You can clone the project to your local machine by running the following command in your terminal:

git clone git@github.com:nexmo-community/ionic-app-to-phone.git

Then change directory into the new folder cd ionic-app-to-phone.

Now that you have cloned the project, you can install the project dependencies by running npm install. This command will install the dependencies listed in the package.json file. Note the nexmo-client listed; this is the Client SDK.

Ionic also needs some environment variables to be set up for Android development. Edit your PATH with:

export ANDROID_SDK_ROOT=$HOME/Library/Android/sdk
export PATH=$PATH:$ANDROID_SDK_ROOT/tools/bin
export PATH=$PATH:$ANDROID_SDK_ROOT/platform-tools
export PATH=$PATH:$ANDROID_SDK_ROOT/emulator

Once done, load the config into the current shell using the source command. You can find more detailed instructions in the Ionic documentation.

The Vonage Application

To create the application, we will be using our command-line interface. If you have not set up the CLI yet, do so by running the command nexmo setup API_KEY API_SECRET in your terminal, where the API Key and Secret are the API key and secret found on your account’s settings page.

Create an NCCO

A Nexmo Call Control Object (NCCO) is a JSON array that you use to control the flow of a Voice API call. The NCCO must be public and accessible by the internet. To accomplish that, you will be using a GitHub Gist that provides a convenient way to host the configuration.

Go to https://gist.github.com/ and enter call.json into the "Filename including extension" box. The contents of the gist will be the following JSON:

[
    {
        "action": "talk",
        "text": "Please wait while we connect you."
    },
    {
        "action": "connect",
        "endpoint": [
            {
                "type": "phone",
                "user": "447000000000"
            }
        ]
    }
]

Create the gist, then click the "Raw" button to get a URL for your NCCO. Keep note of it for the next step.

ncco raw button

Create a Vonage Application

You now need to create a Vonage Application. An application contains the security and configuration information you need to connect to Vonage. In your terminal, create a Vonage application using the following command replacing GIST_URL with the URL from the previous step:

nexmo app:create "Phone To App Tutorial" --capabilities=voice --keyfile=private.key  --voice-event-url=https://example.com/ --voice-answer-url=GIST_URL 

A file named .nexmo-app is created in your project directory and contains the newly created Vonage Application ID and the private key. A private key file named private.key is also created.

Create a JWT

The Client SDK uses JWTs for authentication. The JWT identifies the user name, the associated application ID and the permissions granted to the user. It is signed using your private key to prove that it is a valid token. Create a user for your application, you can do so by running nexmo user:create name="Alice" to create a user called Alice. Then create a JWT for the Alice user by running the following command replacing APP_ID with your application ID from earlier:

nexmo jwt:generate ./private.key exp=$(($(date +%s)+21600)) acl='{"paths":{"/*/users/**":{},"/*/conversations/**":{},"/*/sessions/**":{},"/*/devices/**":{},"/*/image/**":{},"/*/media/**":{},"/*/applications/**":{},"/*/push/**":{},"/*/knocking/**":{}}}' sub=Alice application_id=APP_ID

Run the Project

Now that you have set up the Vonage application, you can make some calls.

Web

The first platform that you will run the project on is the Web. To do so, edit the Home.tsx file (/ionic-app-to-phone/src/pages/Home.tsx) by replacing ALICE_JWT with the JWT you generated earlier.

Once done, run the project from your terminal using ionic serve. This command will start a local server on your machine on port 8100 and open the app in your web browser. Click the login button, which uses the JWT to authenticate the Client SDK. Once logged in, you can now make a call to the phone number specified in the NCCO.

web log in interface

iOS

Ionic uses Capacitor to build the web app you just used for native platforms. Keep the Ionic development server running in your terminal and open a new terminal window in the same directory. The iOS and Android apps require the development server to be available via HTTPS, so you can use localtunnel to create an HTTPS URL. Enter the following command into your terminal, replacing SUBDOMAIN with a unique string:

npx localtunnel --port 8100 --subdomain=SUBDOMAIN

This command will open a tunnel to your machine's port 8100.

Building a native project with Capacitor happens in 3 stages. First, the web code is built. Next, the code is copied to each platform then platform-specific tools are used to build the app.
Open a new terminal window in the same directory. You can do the first stage and second stage with ionic capacitor sync ios. Then run the iOS project using Capacitor, replacing SUBDOMAIN with your unique string:

ionic capacitor run ios -l --external --livereload-url=https://SUBDOMAIN.loca.lt

This command opens Xcode for you and enables live reload of the code. Build and Run (CMD + R) in Xcode, and when the app is running on the simulator/device you pick, you can log in and make a call, the same as on the web.

ios idle interface

Since Ionic is web-based, the iOS app can use the same Client SDK JavaScript dependency and works with no platform-specific code changes.

Android

The process for android is very similar to iOS. In your terminal window running the iOS project, quit the process with Ctrl+C, then run ionic capacitor sync android. Then run the Android project using Capacitor, replacing SUBDOMAIN with your unique string:

ionic capacitor run android -l --external --livereload-url=https://SUBDOMAIN.loca.lt

This command will open Android Studio for you, where you can Build and Run the app on an emulator or device. When the app runs on the emulator/device you pick, you can log in and make a call, the same as on the web and iOS without any code changes.

android calling interface

What Next?

You can find the complete project on GitHub. You can do a lot more with the Client SDK, learn more on developer.vonage.com.

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