The brand new Voicemail+ app, launching for the iPhone in the UK today and in the US later this year, brings text transcription, emailed voicemail receipts and push notifications, and it matches your messages to your contacts.
Once you've installed the app, you can begin your free 14-day trial -- if you want its voicemail services after that period, you’ll have to pay £2.99 (roughly $5) for 1 month, £6.99 ($11.50) for 3 months, £10.99 ($18) for 6 months or £19.99 ($33) for 12 months, which is pricey when there are free alternatives.
If voicemail has never been particularly high on my list of tech priorities -- I’ve given more thought to the iRobot Roomba in all honesty -- it’s because for a very long time I’ve had an iPhone on O2, which offers free visual voicemail. While visual voicemail is available on every carrier on the iPhone in the US, it’s uncommon round the rest of the world.
When I think back to the days before I had visual voicemail, there was a lot more hassle -- receiving a text, dialling the number, waiting, listening, selecting a number, and finally listening to someone hang up the phone. All that precious time wasted. That's what it’s like for iPhone users on any UK network bar O2, EE and Orange (which cheekily charges £1 per month for the privilege) and I’ve been taking it for granted.
Fortunately you don’t have to live in the Stone Age any more. Voicemail+ is supported by most UK networks if you’re on contract -- Three, EE, giffgaff, O2, Orange, talkmobile, T-Mobile, and Vodafone -- but for pay-as-you-go plans, only Three and giffgaff are supported.
It also goes one step further, bringing text transcription. When someone leaves you a voice message, the app automatically transcribes it into text and displays it in your list of voicemails after notifying you. You also receive an email notification, which displays the text and allows you to play the voicemail message from your phone or computer too. It’s currently only available in the UK app store, but will be launching in the US later this year.
The interface design is attractive and uncluttered, with a lovely green hue. It feels completely native to the iPhone, and it requires iOS 7 to run.
I had a few teething problems with the app to begin with as it wasn’t picking up all my missed calls, but I uninstalled and reinstalled it and it worked fine. It was very easy to set up: you install it on your phone via the app store and activate it by calling a number provided during set up.
Voicemail+ has only one main competitor -- HulloMail offers visual voicemail to all on iPhone, including text transcription, e-mail alerts, and push notifications, and it's available for free. It does, however, have ads and a premium subscription option. I found the stylish, easy design of Voicemail+ preferable, but I don't think I'd pay such a hefty premium for it.