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09. 29. 2006

GotVoice voicemail mangement

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Iíve spent some time using the GotVoice voicemail recording service and I wanted to review it for the Popgadget crowd. The company offers a service for capturing voicemail messages from your telephone providerís messaging system, and making them available as handy mp3s. It means no more punching keypads to get to that vital message I saved two weeks ago, and always having a web accessible method for listening, trashing, and saving voicemail.

GotVoice does offer a free package with basic functionality. It will automatically sync with the voicemail system a maximum of three times a day, and allows for automatically deleting old messages once a week. Thatís it, but thatís a perfect bare minimum of functionality to simply use their service as a voicemail reference archive, which is what Iíve wanted for a long time. The free versions are heavily advertising supported, but thatís par for the course when discussing great online services that are free to use. Thereís a full review below the fold so click through and weíll run through it together.

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The initial setup is very straightforward. GotVoice only needs a phone number and the appropriate PIN to access your voice mailboxes. GotVoice supports many of the most popular phone service providers whether the number is a cell phone, a landline voicemail service, or a VOIP provider; but they donít yet support all of them.

Much like signing up for high speed internet in the old days thereís a vetting process where the service will verify your Telco providerís eligibility and give a yay or nay. Thereís no official list of all the supported services, but give it a shot. I had great luck with a Sprint PCS cell, and one reviewer reported that Verizon Wireless and home have worked fine.

GotVoice was designed to work with automated Telco systems and can check your home voicemail, but only if youíre using the services provided by your telephone provider. If youíre using an external answering machine then GotVoice wonít be able to check your messages.

There are four ways to check your messages with GotVoice. Their website has an interface for manually retrieving messages, and a flash based player for listening and downloading. All accounts have access to the web interface, and a great complement to the website is a handy Windows utility that runs in the system tray. The GotVoice Message Center can also be used to manually check for messages, jump straight to the account pages, and retrieve all the saved messages. If you really need to have your voicemail checked more than three times a day on the free account this is the easiest manual way.

The Plus ($4.95/month) and Premium ($9.95/month) plans both offer notification emails with the messages attached as heavily compressed mp3s. The file sizes are small and the audio quality is definitely good enough. The top tier of service offers a personalized RSS feed with all your messages; in my reader it showed up as a Podcast since all the messages were referencing audio files.

I've been using a Premium account, which lets me check my voicemail up to twenty-four times a day. The Plus account is limited to ten scheduled checks, and the free account to three daily. But your messages will always be available for manual retrieval if you so desire.

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Custom schedules can be set up for those times outside the daily routine when youíll have very limited access to a computer, or to make sure that your messages are checked before you walk into the office. The smartest move is to schedule checks for those times when you know that youíre available and can receive, sort, and listen to voicemail from all sources at once. The javascript interface is a simple affair to add different times for each day, or use the little green arrow to choose that time point across the entire week. GotVoice checks mail every thirty minutes either on the half or whole hour. Save multiple custom schedules and select between them at a momentís notice. The system is very flexible, and the interface is nicely done.

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I had to ask the powers that be about their message retention policy since it wasnít covered in any of the GotVoice help files: There are no limits on the number of messages, and no limits on the total recorded time. That may change at some distant point in the future, but for the time being Iím holding onto every single message that I receive for archival purposes. This is the true beauty of their free service, and is going to get geeks of all kinds to sign up in droves.

Of all the things that GotVoice has done on this system, I only have a couple of very minor complaints. I carry a Treo, and Iíve had my entire contact list in a digital format for years. Itís really annoying to read ďMessage received from 314-361-9444.Ē I havenít memorized a new phone number in years because theyíre all in my little electronic wallet. At the very least we need a feature that lets me add names to a master contact list so I can see ďDr. CupcakeĒ instead of just a phone number.

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Secondly their website needs a redesign, as a few functions are not very intuitive. For example, below the message list are buttons for ďFirst, Next, Previous, etc.Ē When I started accumulating lots of messages, I just assumed that there were controls for playing the next message in sequence and that my old messages were being erased, but no, the buttons are for skipping to the next page of indexed messages. I felt like a moron, but Iím sure that Iím not the only one confused by unlabeled controls.

I enjoyed using GotVoiceís services quite a bit. Iíll be keeping a free account when my trial runs out, and if I really canít live without the email and RSS features Iíll be paying for a premium account. Iíve liked the service, but more importantly Iíve found myself using it often. Iíve always wanted archival access to my voicemail messages, and now I have it.

If youíre an always on the go worker bee having to juggle multiple voicemail systems, then this service is a necessity. Give the free account a shot to test it out for yourself, but Iím already hooked.

Posted by Johnny    Category: feature | software
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Comments (2)

Jo:

Thanks so much for the review. I have actually been using the free version for several months now and, other than being disappointed with the audio quality on the free version downloads, I have just loved the service.

I had been wondering if what the advantages of the fee based services were, and if the sound quality of the downloads was any better, and am pleased to discover, based on your example, that they are. It is just like listening to them via the web link, as opposed to downloading them directly to the computer, but I wanted to be able to save some of them in a retrievable way when I am not online. Sounds like one of the paid levels will be just the ticket.

xyz:

Hi,
I wish to have more infomation about GotVoice customers.

Thanks
xyz

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