If you’ve got a smartphone, then you should certainly give HulloMail a go
Many of us have invested in brand-new shiny smartphones, especially since HTC’s Wildfire is now available for as little as £15 a month. Such phones can send and receive all kinds of data, such as emails, Facebook status updates, RSS feeds and Tweets. By comparison, voicemail seems stuck in the past, with its voice-driven options being both tedious and time-consuming.
HulloMail is an ingenious service for smartphones that drags voicemail into the 21st century. Essentially, you forward your diverted calls to HulloMail, instead of your mobile network’s usual service. Any messages left are then converted into MP3 files, which you are then sent to your phone and your email.
Setting up the service is straightforward. There are apps available for iPhone, Android and Blackberry devices, but it will also work on any smartphone with push email. The apps guide you through entering the settings needed, and then will setup the new call divert to HulloMail’s servers. We were up and running in minutes, and you can personalise your message, just like with other voicemail systems
On our Android phone we received a notification when a message was received; this took us straight to the app, where we could playback the message. An icon lets you switch to loudspeaker playback – or headphones if you have some connected. Voice quality is nothing to get excited about, but it’s perfectly intelligible.
Annoyingly, the app doesn’t usually display the name of the person who has left the message, just their number. This is because HulloMail are still working on syncing the app with the contacts on your phone. It will provide contact info if the number appears in your Gmail contacts, and you’ve synced the app to work with your Gmail account. However, many people don’t have Gmail accounts, and certainly not ones filled with all friends’ phone numbers.
How much this costs you is a tough one to answer, but it should be practically nothing and might even save you money. Whenever someone leaves a message you pay for the length of the diverted call to do so, however these minutes can come out of your monthly allowance – so if you don’t use yours up then it’s essentially free. Even if you do pay for your calls, then many networks also charge you to pick up your messages; as this is a cost you’ll no longer be paying, it should entirely offset the cost of people leaving them.
Delivering your voicemails as data, rather than using a mobile network service has its ups and downs. On the plus side, you can receive voicemails via a wireless network, so if you have poor reception at home or work (which is when you’re most likely to get voicemails) you can still get messages and missed call alerts. This also means you can pick up your messages on holiday, as long as you can find a free WiFi hotspot.
On the downside, the messages do take a few minutes to come through to your phone. You also need to leave on the sync function on your phone, something many Android users turn off to increase battery life.
Having all your voicemails saved to your email account can be very handy, especially when people leave email addresses or phone number s, as you can then transcribe these later at your keyboard. You can also even send ‘Hullos’ using the app, or from your PC, which are short voicemail style messages which recipients can listen to in their own time. There’s also a web interface, so you can access your messages from any browser. If you decide it’s not for you then you can reverse the call divert from the app before you delete it. We’re not big fans of voicemail, a text or email is preferable thanks, but it does have it uses and sometimes it’s much easier to say something than write it down. Rather than trying to eradicate voicemail, as some voicemail transcription services have done, HulloMail improves on the classic model. It really needs contact integration, but even without, it’s far better than any mobile provider’s current offering.