Updated -added google search link for VM->MMS search results and some edits/clarifications
There's something else floating about the weblogs that isn't getting the attention it deserves in regards to the iPhone, and I think it's worth a special mention. Apart from whether or not you'll be able to type easily on glass, or what cell phone vendor is locking it up, I'm very interested in the new approach on Voice Mail
which I think is long overdue
for all of us.
We've discussed this here before when we talked about the simple cell phone
, but all of my thoughts are inspired by Donald Norman's thoughts on the matter
. Apple took a step in the right direction by having Cingular re-tool the voice mail system to create something that is easy, efficient, and user centered for getting messages. Anyone who knows me knows I detest voice mail. Look, I see I missed your call
, it has your name right there. I'll call you back. No need to have me dial into my voice mail box and press a bunch of numbers to hear you say "Hey Eddie, call me when you get this..." If you have a valid voice mail- fine, there's a time and place. I don't mind voicemails, just dumb voicemails because I hate dailing in just to hear you ask me to call you back. Luckily my belle has a Treo and leans HEAVY on the SMS messaging, so it's been heaven.
I've always been an advocate of a more user centered approach to voice mail. If SMS fails me, I try to record a voice MMS message and send that along to my target. But that requires an initial intent to send a message. Not a fall back if the phone isn't answered. We need (as Norman says) "near real time" voice communication. SMS/MMS gives us a buzz or beep on our phone, and we can pick it up when we are free and immediately get the information we want without jumping through hoops. This is "near real time" since it's we initiate the action (after we pull over on the road, or when the meeting is over, or after the current conversation is over, etc), and then
get instant access. Instant communication is the plain old phone call. You answer it when it comes or you don't, no putting it off. A good number of people feel rushed by phone calls, they might feel they have
to answer, it must
be important etc. That often will break the flow of whatever else is going- like eating in a restaurant or driving. Voice Mail is on the other end of the spectrum as far as I can determine. It's a "Pull" service where you're passively notified. If I see I missed a call from someone I know, and there's a voicemail icon, I usually just call them back and it's days before I get around to "cleaning it up." If it's an unknown number though, then of course I check right away.
Well...I have a solution that I think would work well. I'd like any voice mail placed in my inbox to be converted into an MMS and delivered/pushed to my handset as a voice note.
This part is not a new idea
, but it's not something any carrier does (that I know about), so it includes a middle man which lessens the user experience. So I'm going to present it anyway like it's something innovative
I see the best use of current technology and User Centered design is for someone (let's use kmaage
for example) to call me up, and get my voice mail. He records a message, it's then sent to my handset as an MMS message (but
handled as a voice mail... you can't charge me for that you thieves!). Doesn't seem too difficult for our "infrastructure" to handle, just some changes on the voice mail server as a minimum, of course I am not a cell-network admin, so what do I know? But I do wonder if this is what is going on with the iPhone behind the scenes. I've read about other "push" (email) services that send an SMS to the handset to initiate a pull.
Then, as the next step of my plan to further the user experience (which would be something new) we could just adjust the handset software to read these certain MMS message according to some meta data about the caller (caller ID info), even if the only meta data is just the "sender" (the voice mail system). They are treated/handled differently than standard MMS picture/audio message... my first thought is to allow these MMSs to be included with standard VM package (no charge) versus the picture/audio sending (charge... even though that's stupid too)
Bingo- we've just done what Apple did, but on the cheap, in two phases, and within reach (stage one at least) of every MMS capable phone. I don't think it's beyond our current capability to pick up my phone and say "ah- kmaage
called while I was away.. let's hear the message" and press one button and immediately hear the "Eddie- your last post had a ton of typos... you suck."
without having to dail up a number to hear:
"You have ONE unheard message. To listen to new messages, press 1. First message sent TODAY at FIVE THIRTY ONE PM..... Eddie- your last post had a ton of typos... you suck..... To delete this message, press 7, to save this message press 9."
So I'll be interested in how Apple approached the problem. Based on the demo and handful of details I've seen, it looks like it might have everything I'd want. You can pick and choose the order of how you can review your VM, and it appears you don't have to run the gauntlet of phone tree options. I've sufficiently beaten it into all my friends and family that I'd rather they didn't leave a message unless there was a really a message to be left, but I will welcome more carriers supporting something along the lines of this.