Blog Post

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?

13 Responses to “YouMail: More Useful Voicemail”

  1. Markus

    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

  2. Jon – please contact us at [email protected] so we can dig into your situation. However, in practice, *82 to unblock does provide the number to YouMail and we do take full advantage of that. So we’d like to see what appears to be going on in your case.

  3. The only real issue I’ve seen so far (with no response from YouMail) is when callers unblock their number – the software does not recognize the call has been unblocked, even though the phone does. The greetings that are for blocked calls will always play, whether or not the caller unblocks their number or not.

    • Because unless you want to bid for a phone number off ebay, Google Voice won’t send your phone number before the end of the year if you’re lucky. Also, YouMail has many features that Google Voice doesn’t have (like “ditch mail” check it out). The point is, YouMail is here for you to use RIGHT NOW where Google Voice is not.

  4. I love You Mail. The customer service is great and they have a lot of options that I find useful. My son has a personal “love mom” voicemail, clients who know the drill… receive short and sweet messages, and new clients receive the whole message. And the coolest part, is since I am in the dog care business, I can leave personalized messages for any client who might want to check on their pet at a time, I might be unable to answer the phone. I can also create messages that greet existing callers by name. My number one priority is customer service..and YOU MAIL really helps me provide it. I pay to use the product, by the way and its so worth it.

  5. Harry

    Unfortunately for Sprint users, they hit you with a per minute forwarding charge (I think it’s .20) if you use a service like YouMail.

  6. I already use youmail and it’s AMAZING. I screen calls from numbers not in my phonebook, and youmail tells me who it is via caller ID 95% of the time.

  7. Wouldn’t it be cool to link the per-group and per-user voicemail preferences to user presence or availability information.

    Callers could be provided with richer information about the recipient’s status, enabling them to make better decisions about what messages to leave and where to leave them.