Communication is a key part of running your business. But you can't answer every phone call that comes your way, and managing heaps of voicemail messages is a pain. Most voicemail systems are cumbersome, requiring you to enter a PIN and then navigate through menus before you can listen to your messages. And the process of replaying, archiving and deleting messages isn't always user-friendly. But there's a smarter way to do voicemail. These free apps provide a visual user-interface for easy message browsing, and many of them transcribe your messages from audio to text. That means you can manage your voicemail the same way you manage your email.
YouMail (Free) – iPhone, Android
YouMail is a voicemail suite that lets you access and listen to your messages on your iPhone, iPad, Android phone or desktop computer. Browse, manage and listen to all your messages in an inbox interface, and share messages via email with a few taps. Other advanced options include the ability to customize voicemail greetings for individual contacts in your address book, and even set an "out of service" message for unwanted callers to block them from leaving a voicemail. YouMail also offers free caller ID services, even for callers who aren't in your address book; when an unknown call arrives, the app can show you the name, city and state of the caller.
HulloMail (Free) – iPhone, Android
HulloMail is a solid visual voicemail service with premium features for business subscribers. The free app lets you view your voicemail inbox at a glance, and play message audio with media controls. You can also manage your inbox, and send a copy of a voicemail to your email. Purchasing a business subscription ($5.99/month or $59.99/year) opens up a slew of new features, including unlimited cloud storage for your messages and full text transcriptions. Subscribers also get the ability to search through individual message transcriptions using keywords, so you can always find the message you need.
Google Voice (Free) – iPhone, Android
Google's free VoIP (voice over IP) service also acts as a full-featured voicemail app. When a Google Voice user receives a voicemail message, it's automatically transcribed and stored in that user's inbox — and unlike competing apps, text transcription is free. Play, pause and rewind functionality make listening more convenient. You can browse past voicemail messages in your inbox, and archive or delete messages with just a few taps. And the Google Voice app can do a lot more than wrangle voicemail messages. It can also let you send and receive free text messages and phone calls using your data connection or a Wi-Fi signal.
Visual Voicemail Plus (Free) – Android
Visual Voicemail Plus is an Android app that can manage voicemail messages as well as faxes; the free app lets you receive digital copies of faxes right in your inbox. You can also receive notification of new fax or voicemail messages via email – even if your phone is on silent, turned off or temporarily without cellular service. Additionally, you can set up caller-specific greetings for individual friends, family members or colleagues. The app is free, but you can pay for expanded capabilities. Premium features include a full text transcription of every voicemail message, as well as the ability to send (as well as receive) faxes straight from your mobile device, with support for a variety of document types.
iPhone voicemail (Free) - iPhone
You may not actually need a dedicated visual voicemail app on your iPhone if the service is provided natively by your wireless carrier. To find out if it is, simply open up your iPhone's dialer app and click the Voicemail icon in the bottom right-hand corner. You'll either be prompted to set up your visual voicemail inbox, or connected to an audio-only automated voicemail system. If the latter occurs, then visual voicemail is not provided by your carrier.
VisionMail Visual Voicemail (Free) - iPhone
VisionMail is a solid, but simple, visual voicemail app for iOS. When a new voicemail arrives in your inbox, it’s automatically transcribed to text. After you’ve listened, you can call the sender or queue up a text message or Facebook response with one click. I also like the ability to set personalized greetings for individual contacts.