GotVoice makes voicemail fun and functional

Most people either dread voicemail or just accept it as a necessary drudgery. GotVoice is a Voice 2.0 service that takes voicemail to the next level and gives you a ton of functionality and lots of customization options that make voicemail something fun to play with and manage. Most all of the functionality is available now for free and there is a premium option available for a bit more functionality. Check out the service screenshots and give it a try today.
Written by Matthew Miller, Contributing Writer

You may have read my blog post title and said to yourself, "Yeah right, how can voicemail be fun?" Well, I met with the folks at GotVoice on Friday and learned all about the post-beta version of GotVoice that was just released a few hours ago and have to say that I think you will enjoy your voicemail with GotVoice. If you are like me, then you currently just plod away through your carriers voicemail system listening to each message one at a time and trying to remember which button is used for each carrier to delete a message. As a father of three daughters I also like to save some of their voice messages, but I have lost several of them with my carrier's system. GotVoice takes voice messaging to the next level with their cool Voice 2.0 technology that goes directly into the carrier voicemail system and navigates it automatically so you do not have to do anything differently to have a much richer voicemail experience. GotVoice is even free, although there is a premium option available if you want a bit more functionality from the system.

I signed up for the previous beta version of GotVoice, which allowed you to have your voicemail "pushed" to your device as detailed in Kevin Tofel's review. The release version of GotVoice shows how they took their Series A VC funding and put it to excellent use to extend voicemail way beyond your carrier's system. With GotVoice you can receive, create, and store voicemail with lots of custom options.

 Image Gallery: There are major updates in functionality in the release version of the GotVoice voicemail service.  
Image Gallery: Listening to a voicemail online

Voicemails that you receive appear in your "inbox" similar in appearance to an email inbox. GotVoice integrates a visual email functionality so that if your contact is in your GotVoice system then the contact name will appear in the From field. If a name is not associated with the number then the number or unknown will appear. You can simply click on the name or number to specify the name, number, and type (home, mobile, work) of the voicemail. Then the next time a voicemail is received from that number, the fields you assigned will be associated with the voicemail. Again, similar to an email inbox, you can reply to a voicemail, email the voicemail message to someone (free version sends a html link to the message and Premium version allows you to send a MP3 file), download and then archive the voicemail, or delete the voicemail. Inbox, Drafts, and Sent pages are part of the Messages tab.

After you listen to a voicemail and want to save it for future usage then it is a good idea to click on the subject field and add a subject associated with the voicemail. This will allow you to take advantage of a very powerful functionality associated with the system, which is the ability to quickly search for voicemails. As you enter letters in the GotVoice search box voicemail messages are automatically filtered using the From and Subject fields.

To help you assign or have contacts automatically assigned to your voicemail it is a good idea to create a contact list or import contacts. You can import contacts from Hotmail, Yahoo, Gmail, AOL, Outlook and Outlook Express. You can also manually add contacts one at a time and are allowed to enter three (3) phone numbers and two (2) email addresses for each contact. You can also create custom groups of your contacts that I'll discuss a bit more below since this is a feature that I cannot wait to try soon in real life usage.

The next function that I am very excited about since it should help me immensely is the voicemail composition functionality. There are three simple steps to go through to create and send an outgoing voice message. The first step is to address your voicemail. You can simply click the To: hyperlink and add contacts from your contact list or add groups from your contact list. Since I coach a girl's softball team and often have to call 13 people (plus sometimes both work and mobile numbers) if there is a rainout I setup a group for softball that includes all the players' parents numbers and email addresses. I can now send out on update with one simple outgoing voicemail and save myself a considerable amount of time and effort. After selecting the recipients you then select what number (home, mobile, work) you want your voicemail to be sent out from and you just use the quick drop-down selector for this. Then enter the subject of the voicemail. Step 1 is complete.

The next step is where you create your message and there are again a number of options to help you accomplish this step. You can record your message using the microphone attached to your PC using the simple record, stop, and play media buttons. If you do not happen to have a mic on your PC, then you can record with a phone. You designate a number to have GotVoice call then click the Call My Phone button. Simply follow the prompts on the selected phone and your message will be created. You can playback the message on your PC to check the message. The last option to create a message is to use text to speech and simply type in a message and then select a female or male voice. This may be a great option if you are in a meeting or presentation and can't speak on the phone, but have to get a message out to people. The voices sound fine, but you can tell they are computer generated. Another option available when you create a message is the ability to add a background. You can use the GotVoice audio library or your own MP3 and make it sound like you are on the streets of Tokyo or placing a call from the beach. Step 2 is now complete.

The last step in creating an outgoing voicemail is to send your message. You can choose to have the recipient's phone ring when the message is sent or to have it sent directly to the person's voicemail system (only supported by some carriers). If you want it to be sent silently, but do not know if the recipient's service supports this then the safe bet is to try silent and then ring the phone. You can then click to save a draft of the message or send the message. I may setup a draft message for rainouts and then only have to click send when a rainout occurs to make the process even easier at that time.

Another way that GotVoice makes voicemail a fun experience is by allowing you to create a custom voicemail greeting. While you can create a custom greeting on most mobile phones, the GotVoice system allows you to add a background using their audio library or by uploading a MP3 file. I am thinking of using The Office background to let people know when I am out of the office. You can select which phone you want to install the greeting to and then install the greeting. You can install up to three greetings with GotVoice. Celebrity greetings will be available soon and may have a small charge, depending on the provider.

There are a few settings you can control on your phone, including whether to save or delete messages and when you want your voicemail to be retrieved from the system. The free version of GotVoice allows you to receive voicemail 3 times per day and the Premium version allows you to receive voicemail 24 times per day.

GotVoice is available now for FREE and if you have voicemail on your phone I highly recommend you give it a try. There are some ads to the right of your voicemail message when you listen to it and a banner ad at the top of your main navigation page, but these are a small price to pay for all the functionality given to you for free. For a bit more functionality, you can purchase the Premium service for US$9.95 per month that gives you up to 24 scheduled voicemail retrievals per day, MP3 email attachments, and RSS feeds.

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