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Time For Voice-Mail To Throw In the Towel

kdawson posted more than 5 years ago | from the surging-unemployment-among-voice-actors dept.

Cellphones 393

theodp writes "Slate's Farhad Manjoo feels the end of voice-mail is nigh, and it won't be missed. Since March, he's been using Google Voice to transcribe his voice-mail messages into text that he gets as skimmable e-mail. No more listening to at least a bit of each voice-mail message, hearing the same instructional prompts between each, and worrying about whether it's 9-to-archive and 7-to-skip (or vice versa). Goodbye and good riddance, says Manjoo, to an 'absurdly backward mode of human-computer interaction' that he half-jokes must violate the Geneva Conventions."

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i ignore voice mail (4, Insightful)

wjh31 (1372867) | more than 5 years ago | (#27894973)

it costs me to listen to it, and if it's important enough, they'll call again or leave a text or something

Re:i ignore voice mail (2, Insightful)

linzeal (197905) | more than 5 years ago | (#27895075)

Yeah, I have listened to my voice messages like 10 times since 1996. It is a cumbersome way to try to communicate someone. Since 2006 my current voicemail box has been full since Verizon does not allow you to choose to not have the service.

Re:i ignore voice mail (5, Insightful)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 5 years ago | (#27895661)

I'd be careful to think that voice mail is only an 'absurdly backward mode of human-computer interaction'. Since I am hearing a person's voice, it is a 'human-human' interaction and one that's rich in information if you care about details.

There is more information and meaning in a 15 second voice mail than in any text. Is the caller angry? Sad? Frustrated? What did the environment he was calling from sound like?

If you think that simply converting all voice mail to text is going to solve the problem, you're missing out. I would think that a jog-wheel to allow me to speed up the voice mails, along with some audio or visual cues to let me know when the message ends would be much more efficient than speech-to-text while maintaining all the meta-information. Just get rid of those stupid menus completely. Since it's trivial to speed up a person's voice without altering the pitch using DSP you'd still be able to understand the message at 10x speed (or more) and still keep the subtler message intact.

I know some voice mail systems already allow speeding up the message, but it's not very intuitive and you still get those awful menus. Plus, the voice on the menus speaks So. Fucking. Slowly. When. They. Tell. You. What. Time. The. Person. Who. Left. The. Message. Called.

I would think that information could be imparted to me much more quickly. Yes voice-mail systems suck. Text is not necessarily the answer unless I can get a great novelist to pre-screen the messages and then write me a few paragraphs describing what the person said and how they said it, etc. Even so, I like hearing my wife's voice. She's got an accent that is like music to my ears and never fails to make me smile even after all these years. Happy mothers day from the kid and me, ljubavi.

Re:i ignore voice mail (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27895123)

I think it's time to throw in the towel on "throw in the towel." Perhaps we can also throw in something more interesting, perhaps a bowl of clam chowder or a set of refrigerator magnets.

Re:i ignore voice mail (4, Insightful)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 5 years ago | (#27895149)

it costs me to listen to it

On most networks, if you call your own phone number, you get kicked over to voicemail and it is considered an in-network call (AFAIK) that doesn't cost you anything.

Re:i ignore voice mail (0, Troll)

seededfury (699094) | more than 5 years ago | (#27895241)

time is money

Re:i ignore voice mail (4, Insightful)

dbcad7 (771464) | more than 5 years ago | (#27895531)

But isn't that the same time you would have spent if you had answered the call in the first place ?.. and isn't it kind of selfish to make someone call you back a second time?.. I mean isn't their time money too ? ... With a few exceptions, most people don't want to leave a voice mail, so the fact that they do, either means they want to give you information, or to tell you to call them back. To ignore voice mails altogether is just being crappy and rude.. and if you legitimately have that many people who leave pointless time wasting voice mails, then it makes more sense to get a new number with ID blocking, and don't give it to those people.

Re:i ignore voice mail (0, Troll)

noidentity (188756) | more than 5 years ago | (#27895681)

On most networks, if you call your own phone number, you get kicked over to voicemail and it is considered an in-network call (AFAIK) that doesn't cost you anything.

It costs me something I only get 24*60 of each day.

Re:i ignore voice mail (5, Funny)

interkin3tic (1469267) | more than 5 years ago | (#27895157)

I also ignore my voicemail. Big problem though: Mom.

Hearing "Hello you have reached 'Mother, please, we've been over this, do NOT leave a message, I'll call you back without checking my voice mail anyway, and voicemail is annoying'..." only makes her leave upset messages on my voice mail. Failure to set up my voice mail so that she can't leave any message only leads to that being the sole topic of conversation every time we actually DO talk on the phone.

I'm sure I'm not alone in saying "Please, let voice mail die faster so my mother can't leave extremely long rambling messages which I have to listen to or face the penalty."

Re:i ignore voice mail (5, Funny)

supernova_hq (1014429) | more than 5 years ago | (#27895407)

If you move out, she won't have to leave you a message saying dinner is ready.

Re:i ignore voice mail (2, Interesting)

bhima (46039) | more than 5 years ago | (#27895709)

I have been going through this with my mother since they invented answer machines. She will call and just carry the same one sided conversation she had on her mind when she dialed. With the exception of putting the most important tidbit at the end (like the fact the family is getting together for dinner or whatever). I have not listened to recorded message start to finish since something like 1989... so I never hear these things.

I thought that email would help this. But she sends email like they are telegrams and she is paying per letter. And she treats her email like a postal box: She checks it once a month.

So these days I disable voice-mail on every device I come in contact with... just in case my daughter or my girlfriend begin to develop the same habit.

Re:i ignore voice mail (2, Funny)

Snaller (147050) | more than 5 years ago | (#27895723)

"Failure to set up my voice mail so that she can't leave any message only leads to that being the sole topic of conversation every time we actually DO talk on the phone."

But that's great! Then you don't have to talk about your skipping school, growing weeds in your bathroom and that you are coming out as gay! Safe topics!

Re:i ignore voice mail (4, Insightful)

quenda (644621) | more than 5 years ago | (#27895225)

Thats a bit rude!
Why don't you just turn it off so they don't get prompted to leave a message? Its ##21# to cancel all diverts.

Re:i ignore voice mail (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27895235)

Eat my goatse'd [goatse.fr] penis!

Re:i ignore voice mail (1)

stms (1132653) | more than 5 years ago | (#27895251)

They'll call you back or text you if their not already dead. That's happened to me like 3 times... I ignore voice mail too.

Re:i ignore voice mail (2, Insightful)

Frnknstn (663642) | more than 5 years ago | (#27895339)

If you are able to ignore your voicemail, then YOU aren't important enough.

Re:i ignore voice mail (1)

Dogtanian (588974) | more than 5 years ago | (#27895511)

If you are able to ignore your voicemail, then YOU aren't important enough.

Funny, isn't it normally the other way round?

Re:i ignore voice mail (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27895523)

If you think you are so important that you can't ignore your voicemail, you are probably mistaken.

Re:i ignore voice mail (1)

mopower70 (250015) | more than 5 years ago | (#27895559)

If you are able to ignore your voicemail, then YOU aren't important enough.

What does that even mean? Are you saying that the more important a person's position is, the less able they are to ignore voice-mail? Do you even know what voice-mail is?

I still stand by the belief that the symbol of power, the REAL status symbol of the future, will be the ability to be completely unreachable. Feeling the need to have to answer every phone call and respond to every text is what's led to the douchebaggery of bluetooth headsets and simian texting while ordering a coffee.

Re:i ignore voice mail (1)

Kibblet (754565) | more than 5 years ago | (#27895609)

I must be the most powerful person on slashdot.

I love voicemail (2, Funny)

UncleWilly (1128141) | more than 5 years ago | (#27895393)

It gives the caller the illusion (maybe it's my message) that the message is Very Important to me and will be returned (right, delete) ASAP!

Re:i ignore voice mail (1)

Kibblet (754565) | more than 5 years ago | (#27895603)

That seems kind of selfish, making people chase you down like that. Why does the other person have to do the work? What if they are calling to do you a favor or something for you? How awful! And leave a text? I have no way to leave a text for someone. I'd much rather get a voicemail, than a text, and I conduct a lot of my life via voicemail.

Two words, one of which is two words. (4, Insightful)

Xenex (97062) | more than 5 years ago | (#27894975)

Visual voicemail [wikipedia.org] .

The concept of voicemail is sound; the technology has been poor. Visual voicemail fixes the technology.

Re:Two words, one of which is two words. (3, Insightful)

David Gerard (12369) | more than 5 years ago | (#27895059)

As TFA points out, by encouraging you to use the metadata - who called and when - and just delete the actual voicemail.

Re:Two words, one of which is two words. (1)

SoupIsGoodFood_42 (521389) | more than 5 years ago | (#27895341)

Still means you have to scramble for a keyboard or paper to take down a phone number or whatever important info that you can't quite make out.

Re:Two words, one of which is two words. (0, Offtopic)

peragrin (659227) | more than 5 years ago | (#27895481)

if you can't remember short details like a phone number you should try some memory practices.

Re:Two words, one of which is two words. (1)

SoupIsGoodFood_42 (521389) | more than 5 years ago | (#27895591)

And how would you know what I should be doing?

Correction - Unified Messaging (1)

Monoman (8745) | more than 5 years ago | (#27895499)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unified_messaging [wikipedia.org] There I fixed it for you.

Voicemail via most phones does suck (iphone is an exception). Can't you check your voicemails at work via your email client? We have been doing it for years and once you give someone the UM client you better not ever take it away.

Not anytime soon (4, Insightful)

AuMatar (183847) | more than 5 years ago | (#27894981)

Text to speech isn't anywhere near 100% yet. Until it is, voicemail isn't going anywhere. Beyond which, human voice can impart additional meaning in tone that text can't. We probably could make better voicemail systems, but I don't see a lot of effort going into that. It isn't really a revenue generator for anyone, and the existing systems aren't that bad to use. 1 button to delete, 1 to save, 1 to repeat. I'd like to see fast forward and rewind like old tape based answering machines had, but that's about all it needs.

Re:Not anytime soon (4, Insightful)

ledow (319597) | more than 5 years ago | (#27895043)

I agree. This is like saying that fax is obsolete because we have text/handwriting recognition. You are throwing away *far* too much is you image->text or speech->text, although they could be used for summary/convenience in certain cases. And sometimes you need alternate methods of communication - putting everything into the same basket (i.e. your email account) is just stupid.

Additionally, the loss of information doesn't necessarily make it more convenient at all. You go on holiday, lose/break your phone and swap the sim card (maybe with a borrowed phone). You don't *necessarily* get the capability to receive that text (e.g. Internet, email, etc.) but you can still listen to your voicemail. It's low-tech, but sometimes that helps.

Personally, I detest voicemail whether on mobile phones or in the office. It's a pain. But it still exists, gets specified and built-in because it's "free", easy, simple and works. It's for a medium that doesn't have a better alternative for saving messages (voice) and thus it isn't going anywhere. And I don't trust *anything* that claims to be able to do a "human" job... translating, understanding, transcribing, recognising, etc. Why? Because they cause more trouble than they are worth unless you want a quick, casual, inaccurate job. This includes any form of handwriting recognition, OCR, "image recognition" (web filter systems etc.), speech recognition, text-to-speech, computer translation, etc.

Re:Not anytime soon (1)

noidentity (188756) | more than 5 years ago | (#27895701)

Additionally, the loss of information doesn't necessarily make it more convenient at all. You go on holiday, lose/break your phone and swap the sim card (maybe with a borrowed phone). You don't *necessarily* get the capability to receive that text (e.g. Internet, email, etc.) but you can still listen to your voicemail. It's low-tech, but sometimes that helps.

Yes, voice is the command-line/remote shell of the phone system; it's the lowest-common-denominator that everything can support. That's why there are even services to read email to you over the phone, as if it were voice mail.

Pfft! (4, Funny)

msimm (580077) | more than 5 years ago | (#27895151)

"Beyond which, human voice can impart additional meaning in tone that text can't."

Bah! I fully expect my transcribed voice mail to include :-D lulz ROFLcopter )-': to impart those more nuanced details.

Re:Not anytime soon (1)

jabithew (1340853) | more than 5 years ago | (#27895231)

But you have to admire Google's cunning here. To monetarise this service they're going to have to extract useful information to allow more targeted adverts (e.g. you get a voice mail asking you to pick up some flowers and suddenly every AdSense advert is showing Interflora). To do this they would have to transcribe your voice conversations and mail into text. If they're doing it anyway, turn it into a feature and advertise it!

Google is staffed by geniuses.

Re:Not anytime soon (4, Insightful)

krunk4ever (856261) | more than 5 years ago | (#27895411)

I agree, especially when Google Voice's text to speech only does English at the moment.

I may be in the smaller crowd here, but I hate phone calls and use voicemail to screen calls. When I say "screen", I'm also referring to the urgency.

When someone calls me and either I don't know the number calling in nor I don't feel like talking on the phone at that particular moment (even if it's someone I know), I use voicemail to screen.

If the call is important enough, they'll leave a voicemail or try calling again later. If they don't leave a voicemail, I don't bother calling back since I deem the call wasn't really urgent/necessary.

Re:Not anytime soon (1)

mpe (36238) | more than 5 years ago | (#27895451)

Text to speech isn't anywhere near 100% yet.

This is speech to text, which is actually harder than text to speech. One tricky problem is recognising every possible dialect/accent of every possible language. Even just just in California you will probably come unstuck if you only handle North American versions of English and Spanish.

Re:Not anytime soon (5, Interesting)

ewrong (1053160) | more than 5 years ago | (#27895613)

Indeed as an Englishman I've only ever managed to get any speech recognition software to work by putting on a fake American accent. Considering people who leave voicemails for me regularly come from places such as The Netherlands, France or India, so are using a second language, I think it's going to be a long time before something like this is actually useful.

Re:Not anytime soon (2, Interesting)

hackstraw (262471) | more than 5 years ago | (#27895545)

Text to speech isn't anywhere near 100% yet.

Can you here me? Hello? Hello? Oh, sorry, what did you say, the connection broke up a second.

People have spoken (no pun intended) that they prefer convenience, availability, and portability over service quality. People accept lower quality audio compared to even the 60s, 70s and 80s for the ability to have more variety of music at their disposal, lower quality video (DVD, cable) over high definition (OTH, Blu-ray), and of course the unreliable wireless phone service over reliable wired phone service.

Beyond which, human voice can impart additional meaning in tone that text can't. We probably could make better voicemail systems, but I don't see a lot of effort going into that. It isn't really a revenue generator for anyone, and the existing systems aren't that bad to use. 1 button to delete, 1 to save, 1 to repeat. I'd like to see fast forward and rewind like old tape based answering machines had, but that's about all it needs.

More arguments against your own case. There is no market for a better voicemail system. Would you pay for one? I consider voicemail a last resort if the person's phone is off or whatever the sequence is when the person does not answer the phone. Odds are the call was recorded in their log, and 99.9% of the time the voicemail says "I called you, can you call me?", which is redundant because why would someone call someone if they didn't want to talk to them? Text messages, voice mail, a note, interdepartmental mail or postal mail are all asynchronous means of communicating without using voice. AND I CAN CONVEY ADDITIONAL MEANING IF NEEDED!!!!

I guess if you are musically inclined or have superior voicemail skills, then voicemail might be viewed as a feature over other means of communication. But for the rest of us, you will either call back or I'll call you back, or maybe, just maybe I'm ignoring your phone calls and voice mails for a reason, and you will figure that out in time, yet in the meantime you will only continue to annoy me by calling and, and making me delete every one of your voicemails without listening to them. Here is a typical interaction with my voice mail:

Computer voice: Voice call from 666-555-1234
Caller: "Hi, its..."
Computer voice: Message deleted

In our society, a 2 second delay at a stoplight will get a honk behind you. That simple voicemail interaction takes about 30 seconds for one message. And about 1 minute if you have to delete 5-10 messages.

Re:Not anytime soon (1)

ockegheim (808089) | more than 5 years ago | (#27895575)

On the rare occasions people leave a voicemail at my home phone it gets emailed to me as a .wav file. It's handy if I'm overseas or something, if only people would use it more...

Re:Not anytime soon (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27895627)

Actually, most voicemail systems do allow you to fast forward and rewind through messages. The button varies by carrier, but with AT&T / Cingular you pressed the 6 or the 4 keys. I used this to zoom through lengthy messages to get to the phone number at the end, or to slow down a fast talker to get key information.

That's great... (5, Informative)

kirbysuperstar (1198939) | more than 5 years ago | (#27895035)

..if you live in America. I'm pretty sure Google Voice isn't available elsewhere.

Re:That's great... (4, Informative)

AlexBirch (1137019) | more than 5 years ago | (#27895147)

This isn't available to everyone in the USA, just the Grand Central customers. This has been one of Google's larger failures.

Re:That's great... (2, Informative)

BikeHelmet (1437881) | more than 5 years ago | (#27895297)

Give it time.

I'm pretty sure they know they have a winner here - which means if they open it up before getting prepared, it'll get clogged and DOS itself.

With the economy in a slump, and mounting youtube costs, they'll probably also examining ways to make Google Voice self-sufficient.

Re:That's great... (1)

AlexBirch (1137019) | more than 5 years ago | (#27895355)

It's all about managing expectations. When this was originally announced, they were saying weeks. Why did they even announce it if they weren't ready to go live?
There is even a Vaporware discussion. [google.com]
I'm confused, how does Google get DOSed or clogged? As long as it's VoIP and not SMS.

> ~~
Happiness = Reality - Expectation

Re:That's great... (0)

bennomatic (691188) | more than 5 years ago | (#27895421)

Failures? Because *you* don't have an account? Google Voice is awesome; I use it every day! Considering the fact that it works as advertised, I wouldn't call it a failure just because they haven't rolled out to everyone in the world.

Don't confuse your disappointment and/or frustration with someone else's failure.

Re:That's great... (2, Insightful)

AlexBirch (1137019) | more than 5 years ago | (#27895461)

Please at least read my post before responding. I didn't say that the service was a failure, just that Google hasn't delivered as promised. They announced that it was going to be rolled out to everyone who wanted an account back in March and they haven't done it. If I were the only person without an account it'd be different.
As Ben Franklin said, "Promises may get thee friends, but non-performance will turn them into enemies."

as a deaf person (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27895053)

this is pretty cool and very useful.

Re:as a deaf person (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27895163)

Yeah, I'm sure all your friends will be glad you finally stop ignoring their voicemail messages. Until now they must've been thinking you were rude.

Why? (0)

donaldm (919619) | more than 5 years ago | (#27895083)

The author is entitled to his opinion but vmail is IMHO the best way to leave messages and if the person you are leaving vmail for is professional you will get an answer back fairly quickly. You only start to have problems when the person you are leaving the vmail for or getting email from does not quite naturally speak the same language as you or has a strong accent that is difficult for the parties to understand.

Vmail is just one of many communication methodologies, each one has advantages and disadvantages and choosing one or more that work well with the way you do business is very much a personal experience. What communication methods work well with one may not work well with others.

Ah yes transcription (5, Interesting)

blowdart (31458) | more than 5 years ago | (#27895087)

My other half uses a transcription service, SpinVox [spinvox.com] for her mobile phone which takes the messages and sends them via text message and email. Unfortunately I have a rather non-standard accent, what with the elocution lessons my parents made me take during my childhood in Northern Ireland, spending half my life in England and my default ability to try to match the speaking patterns of who I am talking to. It consistently mangles it's transcription of my messages.

A more interesting (for me anyway) approach for me is that taken by Microsoft's unified communications [microsoft.com] stuff where I've seen your phone number route through to your computer to Office communicator, with voicemails being emailed as attachments. Of course this is very corporate centric, but it strikes me as more useful. Sure you have to listen to the attachment, but there's no risk of misunderstanding because a transcribing service got it horribly wrong.

Re:Ah yes transcription (2, Interesting)

fprintf (82740) | more than 5 years ago | (#27895453)

I don't know if it exists, but it would be cool to have a combination of both. That is, the email comes through with the attempted transcription *and* the original audio as an attachment. I can then read the email and if it makes sense, that is it isn't too terribly mangled, then I can then decide whether to skip, archive or delete. But if it just doesn't look right or I do want to listen to it either right now or later I can still do so.

Re:Ah yes transcription (2, Informative)

ilo.v (1445373) | more than 5 years ago | (#27895519)

... it would be cool to have a combination of both. That is, the email comes through with the attempted transcription *and* the original audio as an attachment

Most of them work that way, although often the email only contains a link to the audio file, not the file itself. If you want the file sent so you can hear it when offline, try Phone Tag http://phonetag.com/ [phonetag.com] I have used them, and Google Voice, for a while. Their accuracy is (obviously) MUCH better than Google Voice, because they are using humans to do the transcription.

Re:Ah yes transcription (1)

CrashandDie (1114135) | more than 5 years ago | (#27895553)

French ISP Free has been doing for quite a while. Every voice-mail can be forwarded by email to any number of addresses, or listened to on your television through the set-top-box.

It's a great way of getting new alerts, as it probably gives you the best of both worlds. My family still gets to listen to the messages in the usual fashion, and I can keep an ear as I get everything mailed to my Blackberry.

Of course, the next Google killer-app... (5, Funny)

kclittle (625128) | more than 5 years ago | (#27895097)

... will be a text-to-voice service that will read your Google Voice mail to you...

Re:Of course, the next Google killer-app... (1)

operator_error (1363139) | more than 5 years ago | (#27895347)

Someone will probably do it sooner or later.

Google's open API's make this possible.
- - - -

'All your base are belong to us'

Re:Of course, the next Google killer-app... (1)

yakatz (1176317) | more than 5 years ago | (#27895435)

... will be a text-to-voice service that will read your Google Voice mail to you...

It's already here:
http://www.dial2do.com/ [dial2do.com]
Get your voicemail as email and dial2do will read it to you.

Re:Of course, the next Google killer-app... (1)

ockegheim (808089) | more than 5 years ago | (#27895581)

Reminds me of a comedian I saw in 1997:

Man: Text messaging is getting more sophisticated. Soon you'll be able to enter texts using voice recognition.
Father: Why not just call them?

Re:Of course, the next Google killer-app... (1)

brianc (11901) | more than 5 years ago | (#27895679)

... will be a text-to-voice service that will read your Google Voice mail to you...

I, for one, would kinda enjoy having Stephen Hawking calling all the time!

Has this guy never used an iPhone? (3, Insightful)

Graymalkin (13732) | more than 5 years ago | (#27895101)

To answer my own rhetorical question he has, he spends a paragraph musing over Visual Voicemail. I don't quite understand what his problem with it is, the iPhone lets you not listen to messages as easily as it lets you listen to them. It also makes sure messages are associated with contacts in your address book so its obvious who the voicemail is from. He could just used the "missing calls" screen or listen to the voicemails or just throw his phone in a lake because he doesn't seem to be a good conversationalist anyways.

The main complaint of the article isn't a technical one, both Visual Voicemail and Google Voice solve the technical problems with voicemail. His real problem is a social one. His friends are assholes and leave messages consisting of "call me back" knowing they're calling his cell phone and more to the point probably know he has an iPhone or doesn't like checking his voicemail. He's not using the iPhone's ability to ignore useless voicemails and his friends don't seem to register the fact he has caller ID and will be able to see he missed their call.

This is a vexing situation because these people have probably had cell phones for the past ten years if not longer. They know everyone has caller ID and their phones alert them to missed calls. There's no need to waste the time on "call me back" voicemails for anyone. At the same time voicemail is not without its uses. Voicemail can be left by anyone with a phone including landlines. Your SO can leave a message from their landline work phone saying they'll be late for dinner or your kid's school can tell you to come pick them up because they're sick. Voice also tends to be a bit more information dense than printed words since it can convey emotion as well as information.

Oh well, we should all ditch voicemail because a Slate writer has dumbass friends.

Re:Has this guy never used an iPhone? (3, Insightful)

AlexBirch (1137019) | more than 5 years ago | (#27895175)

I have a few friends like you, who assumed I would see all missed calls. This assumption is dangerous, especially if you have AT&T. If you are going to call someone, for the love of all that's good and holy, at least have one sentence summary about why you're doing it.

~~
The most exquisite folly is made of wisdom too fine spun.
~ Benjamin Franklin

Re:Has this guy never used an iPhone? (3, Interesting)

jabithew (1340853) | more than 5 years ago | (#27895237)

Over here in the UK most providers even send you a text if you missed a call while your phone was out of signal.

Re:Has this guy never used an iPhone? (1)

AlexBirch (1137019) | more than 5 years ago | (#27895363)

It must be nice to live there. What happens if you turn your phone off for the theatre, etc? Still a text?

Re:Has this guy never used an iPhone? (1)

jabithew (1340853) | more than 5 years ago | (#27895383)

Yeah, any time your phone isn't connected to the network. Obviously you don't find out until after you get re-connected.

Re:Has this guy never used an iPhone? (1)

AlexBirch (1137019) | more than 5 years ago | (#27895415)

How do I apply for UK citizenship?

Re:Has this guy never used an iPhone? (1)

mpe (36238) | more than 5 years ago | (#27895489)

What happens if you turn your phone off for the theatre, etc? Still a text?

In such cases the network typically sends such a text when the handset is unreachable. Switching it off sends a signal which tells the network it is unreachable so that it dosn't need to bother trying to find it if a call comes in. If the handset has not sent such a signal (e.g. battery removed or something blocking the signal) the network is going to take various steps to try and find it first.

Re:Has this guy never used an iPhone? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27895365)

Not just in the UK, pretty much everywhere else in the civilized world. Americans just live in the stone age when it comes to mobile telephony. I actually laughed when someone said earlier in the discussion that they pay to listen to voice mail. I mean, wtf? How do you people put up with it?

Re:Has this guy never used an iPhone? (1)

jabithew (1340853) | more than 5 years ago | (#27895387)

I guessed it'd be the same through Europe at least, but I didn't *know*. The service wasn't even announced over here, as far as I can remember, one day it just started.

Re:Has this guy never used an iPhone? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27895637)

Here in Portugal at least one of the operators goes one step further: if someone tries to call you while you're out of reception or you have turned your handset off you get the usual text message telling you "this number tried to call you x times" when you have reception again, and the person that tried to call you also receives a text message sayign "the number you tried to call is now available".

Obviously, for the privacy conscious, this service is easily turned off with a single (toll free) call or text message.

Re:Has this guy never used an iPhone? (1)

SoupIsGoodFood_42 (521389) | more than 5 years ago | (#27895391)

I just want a way to easily turn it off, or at least make it harder for them to leave a message. The only voicemail I want are emergencies. Anything else is so much easier if it's sent as a txt or email. No amount of emotion is going to make the phone number or address they've just left any easier to understand if they're speaking too fast, or have a poor mic, they mumble or get distracted part way through, a bus passes by... Caller ID also doesn't work in many places, such as calling from a phone with no direct dial number, or they prefer you to call back on a different number they're calling from...

Only in the USA (0)

localoptimum (993261) | more than 5 years ago | (#27895105)

Orange, TMobile and O2 milk far too much cash by diverting to voicemail after as few rings as reasonable.

Re:Only in the USA (1)

blowdart (31458) | more than 5 years ago | (#27895219)

Funny, ringing my voicemail on my Orange mobile is free. And of course you can configure the number of rings it diverts after yourself, or choose not to divert at all.

Re:Only in the USA (2, Informative)

localoptimum (993261) | more than 5 years ago | (#27895455)

Well, all that you say is true, but that isn't what I meant.

The money comes from people phoning you. Voicemail is active as default and most people don't disable it.

When you ring someone else and they don't answer, the voicemail picks up and you pay for one minute of a phone call. That is a lot of money when your customers have thousands of missed calls per day. If the other network reciprocates, then the networks have a tidy income and the customers pay to listen to a robot beep at them.

Down with Voice-mail (1)

mcarmstrong14 (954208) | more than 5 years ago | (#27895107)

Didn't Apple's iPhone raise the bar by allowing the user to pick and choose which voice-mails to listen to? I think that was a major improvement to voice-mail, saving the user time by eliminating the instructional prompts and displaying who left messages instead of having to listen sequentially to each one. If only I had AT&T and an iPhone... Whatever happens down the road, I know I won't miss voice-mail. It can be a hassle. Especially when someone calls just to say "Call me back." Thanks..

What kind of voice-mail does he use? (1)

Craevenwulfe (611318) | more than 5 years ago | (#27895137)

Does he have a totally different voice mail to me?

Voice Mail and Email will converge (3, Interesting)

religious freak (1005821) | more than 5 years ago | (#27895173)

I disagree. Voice mail will not go away. It will eventually converge with email.

Sometimes I want to hear someone speak to understand tone, sometimes I want to read to save time. I think voice and email will converge. Just because he's getting speech to text doesn't mean he'll want to destroy the speech data. What if you don't know someone is being sarcastic, or if you just happen to miss the sound of someone's voice?

Alternatively, I think a simple text to speech feature will eventually come about too. Though theoretically not quite as useful for gauging emotion (though I'm sure some "emotional emphasis" could probably be added without too much difficulty), some people may prefer to hear a text message when they're doing things like driving.

It will certainly be refined and perfected over the next decade or so, but as the summary states, it's already starting to happen.

Re:Voice Mail and Email will converge (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27895601)

There are text-based ways to show VERY IMPORTANT THINGS like tone, and even emphasis. If the computer can recognize them it can translate them into such techniques.

Put it on the phone with a (low!) time limit (1)

bemymonkey (1244086) | more than 5 years ago | (#27895183)

I'd be a lot more inclined to actually listen to that crap if I didn't have to dial through 4 keypad activated menus before I got to the actual message. Put it on the phone so you can listen to it as quickly as you would an SMS, and make sure there's a time limit on there that makes sure they can only explain who they are and why they're calling. 15 Seconds sounds about right...

And stop wasting my time with automated voice crap - whether it be voice mail or service hotlines. If you're gonna charge me a Euro a minute, you'd better put an actual person on the other end of the line.

Re:Put it on the phone with a (low!) time limit (1)

Craevenwulfe (611318) | more than 5 years ago | (#27895329)

r'uh? Any voicemail i've used (certainly on my mobile) cuts STRAIGHT to my new messages. If they are too long or boring i just press #7 to delete and it goes straight to the next one. The only stipulation is that i -must- listen to 3 seconds of the message.

Re:Put it on the phone with a (low!) time limit (1)

bemymonkey (1244086) | more than 5 years ago | (#27895561)

See, the slowness of voice mail ("Welcome to **** voice mail! This call costs xx.xx per minute. You may access the voice mail service at any time by dialing xxxx-xxxx-xxxx. You have x new messages. For new messages, press 1. For older messages, press 2. For voicemail settings, press 3.") caused me to stop using it about... oh... 3 seconds after I got my first mobile phone (must've been when I was about 13, so 8 years ago). Guess I missed out on all the technological advancement since then ;)

people resist technology (1)

youn (1516637) | more than 5 years ago | (#27895193)

although there is a minority of people that like to have the latest technologies, most resist change. When it comes to the phone, it is particularely true. Video calls have been around for a long time now... how many people use them? The same with wap. voice converted to text is an interesting concept, but it will have the same problem for mainstream adoption.
1) Text conversion is approximate at best, especially if noise levels get high
2) it's as much how you say it that counts... irony, hesitation, sobbing, sorrow wont get translated and even if they are what is the message gonna be "Hello [laughter] I miss you [sob][sob][sob]"
3) multicultural societies will have even more messed up translations... I occasionally use 3 languages in a conversation (and I know others use more)

Switched it off (2)

agw (6387) | more than 5 years ago | (#27895203)

I switched my voice mail off, so I don't need to check my messages, because "the leaving of a message is one half of a social contract which is completed by the checking of the message.

If that social contract breaks down then all social contracts break down. We decent into anarchy."

language barrier? (4, Insightful)

Krupuk (978265) | more than 5 years ago | (#27895229)

Voice-to-text is great if you speak English or another language spoken by at least 20 million people. If you're part of a minority, not so.

I don't think so (1)

fatp (1171151) | more than 5 years ago | (#27895239)

If this thing will kill voicemail, email would have killed phones already

Sometimes vocals are necessary (3, Insightful)

dontmakemethink (1186169) | more than 5 years ago | (#27895247)

Although I check my voicemail via emailed attachments, most of them are rather urgent, and mere text does not convey the whole story. There's no way anyone can convince me they leave the same message on voice mail as they do on a SMS text message.

Here's a real example of two messages I received two days ago:
[text] you gotta minute?
[voice] Man I'm in a jam, I've got an offer to jump in on a European tour, but we don't have the right demo, they want something raw, can we cut something in the club?

That is a personal favor and no way it gets approved via text. It would be ignored, and the sender would be PNG instead of on his way to Europe.

Re:Sometimes vocals are necessary (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27895477)

Except that you've communicated it to us perfectly well using text.

Not A Chance In Hell..... (4, Insightful)

IHC Navistar (967161) | more than 5 years ago | (#27895255)

Voice Mail is easier than E-Mail.

With voice mail, you can:

1: Delete by quickly pressing 1 key,
2: Don't get as NEARLY as much SPAM mail,
3: You just need a cheap phone, and not a whole computer, internet access, ISP, etc.

Voice mail will never go away. Period. I wish these 'tech people' would quit making their bizarre predictions just to get their name in a magazine or article.

I for one welcome.......... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27895263)

the death of voice mail just as I welcomed the paperless office!

Wake Up! (1)

elkto (558121) | more than 5 years ago | (#27895273)

Wow, a Google Spam post, how we have progressed, Ever research Voice to Text software? I wear "Blew Genes".
Here is a concept, if your client wanted to leave you an email, they would have. They wanted to talk to you. They left a message instead of contacting your competition.
Tell you what, have them call me, I will be happy to take them as a client.

And in other news... (1)

Jonas Buyl (1425319) | more than 5 years ago | (#27895277)

And in other news: TV will kill cinema and thanks to computers we don't need books anymore.

Thinly veiled advertisement for a new service (4, Insightful)

petes_PoV (912422) | more than 5 years ago | (#27895299)

Google voice is not generally available and is due to be rolled out soon.

This "article" reads like someone who is either trying to promote the new service with a little extra publicity - or is trying to prove how techno-savvy he/she is by using a leading edge tech.

Well, yawn, I really don't care.

Completely stupid! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27895327)

WTF do i want to read when i can listen?

voice to text (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27895333)

I'll try it. but I have serious doubts about this voice to text capability. People have been trying voice to computer features for over a decade now, with really lousy and impractical results.

I dunno... (5, Funny)

MichaelTheDrummer (1130657) | more than 5 years ago | (#27895343)

Listening to drunken messages left on my voicemail is often the highlight of a Sunday morning hangover.

Visual Voicemail (2, Informative)

Andy Smith (55346) | more than 5 years ago | (#27895349)

Visual Voicemail on the iPhone should have "fixed" the user-unfriendly nature of traditional voicemail. But alas, here in the UK, it is all-too-frequently unavailabe, either due to lack of a mobile signal (even though the messages are stored on your phone, Visual Voicemail is disabled if you lose signal), or due to unspecified faults that result in you being told smply that Visual Voicemail is unavailable and you must dial in to access your voicemail manually. A potentially great service, crippled by some horrible "service DRM" that shuts it off as soon as the service isn't there.

Like many iPhone users, I often evangelise about the iPhone and encourage my friends to get one. But I always include one caveat: DON'T get it based on the attraction of Visual Voicemail. The feature is so often unavailable that you should regard it as non-existant.

Wow! (1)

Warlord88 (1065794) | more than 5 years ago | (#27895359)

Vodafone just started the voice mail in India. I used it first time a few days back and said to myself "Hey.. this is great.. why didn't we have this earlier?"

And now this.

Different Languages? (4, Insightful)

Faizdog (243703) | more than 5 years ago | (#27895371)

I have some services, such as Vonage, that attempt to provide a speech-to-text transcription of your voicemail to your email. However, being someone not originally born in the US, many of my voicemails tend to be in another language.

Staying in touch with my family is very important to me, and if I'm missing their voicemails, then I can't use these services. It will be a long time before a lot of the world's languages have speech-to-text conversion and an automatic service could recognize which language is being spoken and then use the appropriate conversion.

So I don't think voicemail will go away at all, perhaps become less common.

Voice mail is an american thing (2, Informative)

saigon_from_europe (741782) | more than 5 years ago | (#27895493)

And it was never popular in Europe.

In Serbia, our fixed line monopolist Telekom does not offer voice mail. On the other side, all of our mobile providers do offer voice mail, and they offer it for 8 years, and still no one uses it.

Somewhat similar to this, mobile providers send you a SMS with a list of missed calls (time + number) so if you have turned your mobile off, you'll get the list as soon as you turn your phone on.

Also if you cannot get someone on his mobile, you can send him a SMS, and it will be delivered once he gets reachable again.

Rumors of VM's Death... (1)

automag (834164) | more than 5 years ago | (#27895541)

...have been greatly exaggerated by this D-Bag Slate guy. As with many sub-par authors, he's chosen to assume that his personal situation and preferences must mirror societies situation and preferences as a whole. Sure, pal. I've got one word for you: pagers.

People have been decrying the death of pagers for nearly 15 years now, but you know what? I personally know ~20 professionals in the medical field who swear by theirs, and use them daily. A quick unscientific poll of 4 of those friends turned up estimates of between 30 and 50 additional people that they personally know who use pagers regularly.

Just like 'landline' telephones, pagers, Amiga computers, and... yes... Radio Shack answering machines, voice mail is not going to be going away anytime soon. Why? Because in some contexts, and/or for some people, voice mail works as well as they will ever need it to, so there is no need to upgrade to something else.

Personally, I predict we won't be seeing VM going completely away for a long time. Did I mention that I think the author of the original article is a giant D-bag. I did? Well now I've done it twice.

Voicmail? I love it! (1)

jasprov (1521977) | more than 5 years ago | (#27895597)

It keeps spammers away!

My home phone and cell phone both go directly to voice-mail for all non-white-listed calls (including all unrecognized/private numbers).

Yeah, right... (2, Insightful)

dwm (151474) | more than 5 years ago | (#27895605)

...just like email killed faxes.

Triple your revenue! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27895653)

Someone needs to invent a mobile phone that answers the call and captures the voicemail locally when switched on. Voicemail is great for making telephone companies money. If you can't get to your phone in 25 seconds you caller leaves and message then you call to listen to the message and then you call them back to speak to them. The telephone company just multiplied their revenue by three. When you ask for the telephone company to extend the ring time they tell you 25 seconds is the maximum other wise it causes the network issues.

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