Roundup: Cleverest voicemail apps

There are several innovative voicemail applications that we have tested and reviewed recently. They all have very useful feature sets, with one or two whiz-bang elements that makes them quite unique.

Jott: This is a voicemail to text or voicemail to email service. You leave a voicemail message at the Jott phone number, from your registered cell phone, and the message gets translated into text and delivered to your email inbox or phone sms, if you send it to yourself (reminder, calendar item etc.), or it gets sent as an email to anyone you pick from your contacts list.

The strong point of Jott is that the translation is flawless. I’d really like to know how they do that! Having tried various desktop translation softwares, where you have to train the application endlessly to recognize your accent, I have yet to find one that has better than 90% accuracy. Yet Jott works with your normal speaking voice. One thing though, the text gets delivered after a few minutes of “processing”, so one wonders if there is not some human editing going on in the background.

YouMail: YouMail is a service that takes over the voicemail service from the carrier and routes it to their servers where you can pick up your voicemail in the usual way, or have it emailed it to you, and of course you can store it all forever.

The nicest feature of Youmail is the fun library of greetings that you can use to set up your outgoing greeting individually, by user. You can also add a “This phone is disconnected” message for people you don’t want to hear from, or use their famous “Ditchmail” for unwelcome suitors.

CAllWave is a voice mail and voice to text service. Callwave lets you set up a voicemail box on their server so your callers can leave you messages.

The really useful feature is that the messages get translated into text and forwarded into your email inbox or to SMS on your cell phone, in text form, along with the name of the person who called (from the caller ID). The text translation does not work perfectly but you can get the gist of what the caller is trying to say. The ability to “read” the voicemail (specially when you are in meetings) - and getting it filed in text fashion in your inbox is a huge plus.

Pinger is a hands free alternative to SMS. It is unobtrusive voicemail that you leave for others. If someone is in a meeting and you don’t want to bother them, you “ping” them, ie leave a voicemail on their cell phone number. The Pinger site lets you check if they picked up your message. You can also use the service like an audio Twitter, where you leave voice clips on a website using an embedable widget.

With the carriers focusing on the size of their customer bases, and innovating very little over the last decade in the areas of messaging or voicemail, the door is open for entrepreneurial companies to develop exciting applications which make the mobile phone not only more useful, but more fun. It would not take a crystal ball to see some of the carriers snapping up these companies in the future when they find that consumers are beginning to expect more clever features on their mobile phones.

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Jott might just change the way you communicate

jott logoJott is a very smart service which converts your voice mails into text and emails them to you. This blog post is being written by using Jott.

Jott is a free service - after you register your cell phone, you can call a toll free number to leave a voice message. The message will be converted to text within a few minutes, and forwarded as an email to a person (or group) on your contacts list, or to you.

Jott can be used in many clever ways:

1. Send emails to people when you are away from your computer.
2. Leave reminders for yourself from your cell. The reminder gets delivered in your email inbox.
3. When you get the idea for “the next big thing” record it by calling the Jott phone number (Jott to myself).
4. Use Jott to blog like I am doing here.


The application works really well. With normal speech, the text I got back was free of errors other than a slight misinterpretation now and then. The length of the voicemail is restricted to 30 seconds, although on a single phone call, you can leave several voicemails.

Who could use voice to text converters like Jott?

1. People on the go
2. Those who need to record news items and send them on for publication
3. People with injuries who are not able to type
4. The visually impaired who want to send email
5. The hearing impaired who would like to be able to “read” their email

Mark Rejhon has a thought provoking article on the blackberry forums on how he forwards his phone number to a “voice mailbox number” which converts his messages to text which he can receive, and read, via email, so business contacts do not even realize that he is deaf.

Jott is currently in limited beta and it is free. There is also a desktop version that lets you sent emails directly, without even going into your e-mail program.

As I mentioned before, this blog post was recorded entirely using Jott, with about 5 minutes of edits. For now, the Jott phone number has taken up the speed dial for “J” on my cell phone (sorry John!).

Other cool cell phone apps: Pinger YouMail

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Pinger: Did they hear your voicemail?

pinger logoYou left a voicemail on someone’s cell phone. Now you are sitting around wondering if they listened to you message. What do you do? Call them back? Wait it out? Now there is something that you can do!

Enter Pinger, a cool cell phone voice mail application. When you sign up for Pinger, it allows you to call a phone number and leave a voice mail on any cell phone.

This is where it gets really neat. Pinger has introduced a new feature where you can actually see whether your message was picked up or not - an ear icon shows up next to the item in the outbox of your web account, when your message is played.

Pinger turned out to be remarkably easy to install. Like all web based mobile apps, you give them your mobile number when you open an account. They text a code to your phone, which you use for verification.

The feature that worked really well was the address book. You type in names of your contacts. When you want to leave a voicemail for them, you just speak their names into the phone. The name recognition worked well (seems to even pick up on foreign sounding names). You can also send a broadcast voicemail to a group of people.

pinger mail box

According to John Lai, Product Manager at Pinger, they have several other new features such as Pinger Promotions.

“This service allows our partners to post a widget on their website so that users can subscribe to receive audio clips from the partner. This also works if the partner already has a subscriber list whose members have opted into receiving content on their mobile phones. “

Previously we wrote about YouMail, a service that makes your voicemail a whole lot more exciting, by allowing you to customize your outgoing voicemail greetings, along with a host of other handy features.

Pinger provides a convenient voice alternative to text messaging.It is scary enough when people drive down the highway talking at length on their cell phones (while reading the newspaper, and eating at the same time), they don’t need to be sending SMSs as well. Hopefully, a service like Pinger will dissuade that kind of behavior!

Pinger is based in San Jose, and received $3M in series A funding from Kleiner Perkins Caufield and Byers, and $8M in series B in a round that also included a new investor, DAG ventures.

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