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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CallWave: I said They said

callwave logoCallWave is a voicemail to text conversion service, similar to Jott which I reviewed previously.

CallWave provides “visual mobile voicemail” - it allows you to set up your cell phone voicemail system so that callers can leave messages which then get converted into text and emailed to you, along with caller id information. You can choose to have notifications forwarded even when the caller does not leave a message, or when there is no caller id.

ImageThe service is useful for simple notifications, and inbox reminders of phone calls that you need to return.

The CallWave basic service is free. The paid version includes call live call screening with the option of picking up the call or transferring to a different phone number.

Although the notification of the voicemail gets delivered to the email inbox along with the text, to listen to the voicemail, you still have to go to the website (the sound file is not attached to the email).

One problem is that the voicemail to text conversion is not usable at this point. I tried the service twice and both times, the text did not reflect the first part of the voice mail at all, and whatever was transcribed, did not make sense.

I got the following text back:

…believe along to me as much couldn’t gets converted into text and he made it to you.

What I really said:

…lets you leave a Voicemail that gets converted into text and then emailed to you

Needless to say, this post was not written using CallWave, unlike yesterday’s post on Jott, which was actually written using the Jott reminder recording facility.

CallWave is based in Santa Barbara, and is currently in beta. Hopefully they will improve their voice recognition so it can augment their Voicemail service, which otherwise, works quite well.

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