(Usual Disclaimer - I work for Vodafone, but I do not speak on their behalf. Other mobile phone providers are available. I know some of the people at SpinVox and I have an account with them. All biases are my own and should be taken into account before you make a decision.)
There has been a lot of talk recently about alternate VoiceMail Providers - especially those who transcribe or otherwise deliver your message. I thought I'd give an overview of the four (!) VoiceMail services I use.
All screenshots taken on a BlackBerry 9000 to show you what the on phone experience is like.
These are service which turn your caller's voice message into a text. Quick to read and subtle to check.
SpinVox is getting a bit of bad press at the moment. Regardless of the controversy, the service works. You set them as your voicemail provider and you receive a text (and optional email) with the transcription of your message.
The message appears to come from the caller's number - so it's easy to reply by text or voice.
They include links for you to listen to the message and - crucially - allow you to dictate a reply. So, you call the number, leave a message, they get sent a text.
SpinVox is currently free in the UK for the first 30 days, although you may be charged for the cost of the diverted call. Thereafter it's £5 per month.
Vodafone Respond Plus
While debate rages about how many call centres SpinVox uses, there's no doubt that Vodafone UK's Respond Plus is staffed entirely by humans. When you call, you get a pleasant UK based call centre worker saying "This is Terence Eden's personal answer service" (you have a limited number of greeting options). You tell the answerer your message and they transcribe it and send via SMS.
There are a few problems with the service - mostly they hark back to the days when it was used for pagers.
- It doesn't show you the original caller's number.
- ALL CAPS.
But a pretty good service, nevertheless.
Different ways to get the audio of your message - commonly called Visual Voicemail.
HulloMail have a simple proposition. They deliver your voicemail as an MP3 attached to an email. If you've got a supported phone, they provide a "Visual Voicemail" style application.
Attached to the email is an MP3 of your message. Perfect for archiving.
HulloMail is currently free in the UK, although you may be charged for the cost of the diverted call. The application is also free.
I'm biased, but I think that Vodafone Mail is one of the earliest Visual Voicemail style services. It gives you a mobile website which allows you to read your emails and listen to your voicemails.
A simple interface for emails, voicemails and - bizarrely - faxes.
Fairly straightforward and fast. You can listen to the messages in whichever order suits you best.
The web interface also allows you to download the message in MP3 format.
The interface is very dated - and they're not accepting new connections. Although a new service is coming to replace it - so I'm told. There is no extra voicemail charge for using the service.
None of the services are perfect. I'd like the usability of SpinVox, the accuracy of Respond Plus, the MP3 delivery of HulloMail and the mobile web interface of Vodafone.net.
In my day to day life, I flip between SpinVox and Respond Plus - transcription rules the roost. However it is done.