Apps and Services to Aid Phone Use

 phone ringing

Using my smartphone is great for texting, email and the internet. As hard of hearing, these features keep me in the communication loop but using it for actual phone calls is another matter altogether. There are times when using the phone is unavoidable and I have to do it. In the last few weeks, I needed help getting messages off my voicemail which sent me on a flurry of research.

YouMail: My boyfriend found this service so we could forward any voicemail to him and he could text me back with the necessary information. It’s free (with ads), $2.99 a month without ads and there is a business plan which includes voice to text for $24.00 a month. They also have Read It plans but it gets a little goofy here, with $4.99 a month for 20 voicemails at 20 seconds of transcription. Their next level is $9.99 with 40 voicemails and 40 seconds each and on up to their unlimited plan which includes unlimited messages and 60 seconds of transcription each. They have a free app available for iPhone and I now have it so I can forward messages which I wasn’t able to do through iPhone alone. It also allows me to record personal greetings to people in my contact list and have a default message for everyone else.

My boyfriend is willing to help me out but as my business picks up, I don’t want to burn him out so next I asked my friends at the SayWhatClub (SWC, a daily source of support and friendship via email) how they coped with retrieving voicemails. It turns out a lot of us use our significant other or try very hard to get people to use email or text instead. Those who still deal with the phone (usually for business purposes) told me about services and programs they heard of or used. I haven’t tried them myself yet but here are options you can look at.

PhoneTag: Their website says, “PhoneTag uses advanced technology to convert voicemail to text and deliver it via e-mail and/or text messages.” Their plans range from 35 cents a message, to 40 voicemails a month for $10 and unlimited for $30 a month. Jaynie Kind who writes for her local HLAA chapter in California wrote in their 2009 newsletter, “My husband just set it up and it’s fantastic! People can leavevoicemail messages on your home or cell phone and thosemessages can be transcribed and sent to your email or cellphone as TEXT messages! No more struggling to understandvoicemail.” On the downside, another friend on the SWC email list said he signed up for the service and after 5 days hasn’t been able to use it and tech support is via the phone only.

Google Voice: They have a video to watch for information but it’s well captioned. This service appears to be free at first glance. It’s over-view says the transcription isn’t always perfect but believes we will get the basic message anyway and they are working to improve that portion of their service. It has many options including tying three phone together if needed. Someone who used this service said it wasn’t perfect but it’s not bad. (I’m thinking it can’t be any worse than relay operators and it can’t be as awful as YouTube captions.) I’m not sure how much of their Voice services are free but it might be worth checking into. I like their honesty so I will look into this soon.

After doing a web search, I found other businesses offering similar services:

Before my voicemail issues last week, I hadn’t heard of any of this and didn’t know these kinds of options existed so I thought I’d share my discoveries. Feel free to add your thoughts and experiences below in the comment section.