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Summary:

Web Worker Daily readers are likely familiar with GrandCentral, a service that gives you a single phone number that can ring multiple phones including your office, cellular phone, and home number simultaneously. However, if you’ve ever thought it would be nice to read your voicemails either […]

logoWeb Worker Daily readers are likely familiar with GrandCentral, a service that gives you a single phone number that can ring multiple phones including your office, cellular phone, and home number simultaneously.

However, if you’ve ever thought it would be nice to read your voicemails either in as a text message or email, PhoneTag has a service in mind for you.  With this add-on PhoneTag service, you can have all your phones ring at the same time, and if you call goes to voicemail – ready your voicemail through PhoneTag.

These voicemail to text services have been around for quite some time, but before this integration between PhoneTag and GrandCentral, you had to choose between the two services. No more.

PhoneTag, formerly known as SimulScribe, was among the first to offer voice-to-text transcription.  PhoneTag also gives you a wav audio version of the email, along with your text summary of the message.  The company is well established and is compatible with many mobile carriers including AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon, Alltel and more.

After 10 voicemail tests, the PhoneTag service works very well.  All messages were transcribed with 98% accuracy.  If PhoneTag can’t decipher a word spoken to it, it puts a question mark at the end of the word to alert you.

The service is useful, but voice-to-text services as a whole are not without their flaws.  Voice recognition is still more of an art than a science, and errors can occur when a computer tries to interpret voicemails and relay them into text.

I have used a similar service from CallWave, with unfavorable results.  Voicemails were interpreted incorrectly and if you simply relied upon the text summary of the voicemail, you’d receive the wrong message.  For example, a person left me a message that actually said, “Hi Jason, this is Josh, please call me”.  The text transcription literally read, “Hi Jason, this is Josh, don’t call me”.  Luckily I had the raw voicemail to listen to and didn’t think my co-worker didn’t wish to hear from me.

PhoneTag service starts at $10/month for 40 messages or $30 for unlimited messages.

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  1. This really isn’t an integration between the two services. Your required to forward your phone to their service if no one answers. That eliminates some of the features of Grand Central and why I use it. I would say this classifies more as a mash-up than an integration.

    Wouldn’t they also be compatible with any phone service that can forward an unanswered call? (Vonage, etc..).

  2. I suspect all who offer such a service have at least a small human component for verifying results. Full transcription from telephony audio data seems illusory.

    The biggest splash in this space (voice-to-screen) has arguably recently come from SpinVox.

  3. I’ve been using Simulscribe, now PhoneTag, for about a month and it’s the greatest thing I’ve done for my communications slip-streaming in quite some time. I hate voicemail with the red hot passion of a thousand suns but PhoneTag makes is bearable. I also call into PhontTag to leave myself To-Do’s or reminders that are then sent to my e-mail address.

  4. Now, it seems the ‘automatic’ voice transcribing into SMS is not so automatic. Companies pass our voice messages to outsourced personnel in South Africa and they actually hear and type the SMS. Where is the confidentiality of all this? One of the outsourced employees was clear enough: “the machines (for automatic voice transcription) do not understand nothing, we need to start typing when the voice message starts”. I think WebWorker Daily’s reporters should investigate which other companies use acutally human beings to make ‘automatic’ transcription. This could be a major security breach for private and corporate clients that use those ‘automatic’ transcription systems. Please check this article by BBC http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/8163511.stm

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