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.