YouMail: More Useful Voicemail

YouMail logoVoicemail, useful though it is, is pretty unsophisticated: you record a greeting, caller leaves a message. YouMail aims to improve the voicemail experience, making you more productive in the process. It allows you to record per-contact and per-group greetings, receive voicemail via cell phone, email and web site, and get your voicemails transcribed.

Signing up with the service is a breeze. Just enter your cell phone number into the YouMail web site to receive an activation code sent to your phone. Copy the code into the web app, and you’re in. YouMail provides excellent setup instructions specific to your phone (complete with screenshots for my BlackBerry Curve). After setup, YouMail lets you select how you want to receive alerts.

Email alert from YouMail

YouMail sends a voicemail alert by email

The service has three options for checking voicemail. You can program the “1” key on your cell phone, dial the YouMail phone number that appears in all new voicemail alerts, or use visual voicemail by going to from a web-capable cell phone. Using visual voicemail, you can view the caller’s info including location, audio file, transcribed message and photo, if available.

YouMail on the BlackBerry

Checking voicemail at on a BlackBerry

One of YouMail’s unique features is the ability to record custom greetings for individuals as well as groups. This feature is great for folks like me who work with a diversity of clients and teams. Rather than emailing and calling everyone on one of my teams to report that I’m out for two hours, I can customize a greeting for that specific group. You can use one of many free prerecorded messages from the service or record your own through your computer or cell phone.

The clean and user-friendly web interface makes it easy to import and manage contacts. Select a contact to choose a greeting, record a new one, or “ditch” (effectively block the caller — YouMail hangs up on them as soon as the greeting finishes playing). You can also email and text your contacts within the web interface.

YouMail web interface

YouMail's web interface

Everything is free except for the voice transcription service, which varies in price, depending on how many many messages you will have transcribed per month. Paying users can receive voicemail transcribed into text messages, emails or both, along with an MP3 file of the original audio. You can try out the voice-to-text service before investing into a premium plan with Read-It Free Favorite, which allows you to receive transcribed voicemails as text messages from one contact.

The voice-to-text messaging service isn’t perfect. This was demonstrated when I left the following voicemail: “Hi, Meryl. This is Kay calling to see if you got my email. Let me know if you have any questions about the report. Thank you.” I took care to speak slowly and clearly, but the transcribed version came out as: “Hi meryl all does is kate calling Tuesday if you’ve got my email, let me know if u have in in question about.” You can help improve its accuracy of your voice by rating transcripts and sending corrections to the service.

YouMail stands out from similar services with its per-contact and per-group greeting customization and friendly interface, and the transcription service is useful, even if it’s not particularly accurate.

Do you use visual voicemail or any other useful mobile phone applications?

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