Apple revolutionised voicemail with the iPhone. Rather than the traditional approach of calling your voicemail service and listening to each message in turn, “Visual Voicemail” brings the ability to see voicemails in a list (like an email inbox). At last you can tell at a glance who called you when, and listen to your messages in the order you want rather than the order they were left. Even better – since the messages are downloaded onto your phone – you can listen to them even if you’re out of coverage and unable to dial into your voicemail. This is fantastic for areas of poor reception where calls can be hit-or-miss – for example the office where I’m spending most of my days at the moment.
Sadly, VisualVoicemail is not offered by Orange UK (my mobile provider). Vodafone UK users are similarly out of luck. Only O2 (the original and erstwhile-exclusive UK iPhone purveyor) bothered decided to upgrade its systems to offer VisualVoicemail. Naturally, Orange and Vodafone keep this quiet and still charge full-Apple-whack despite their second-rate voicemail service.
Maybe one day the cheapskates/laggards will get around to supporting VisualVoicemail. In the meantime, thankfully, there is a workable alternative in the shape of HulloMail – essentially an app for iPhone, Android, Blackberry and other smartphones. It’s even free-of-charge, if you can put up with ads and limited storage – otherwise pay a few quid for the ad-free version. It might not be quite as slick-looking or as snappily named as the original Apple offering, but it’s available. It works. I like it. Read all about it.
PS: It was Orange that prompted this post. They sent me an iPhone survey from their Better Together community, asking if I’d heard of Visual Voicemail and if I’d use it. Too right. Bring it on. At least I’ve got HulloMail in the meantime…