There are several free third-party apps on the market that efficiently translate voicemail messages you receive into text, but most phones on the market also have their own built-in visual voicemail options.
If you want to streamline the voicemail retrieval process, try one of these free visual voicemail solutions.
What is visual voicemail?
In the olden days, if you left a voicemail for someone, you would get a notification that you missed a call and had a message you had to listen to. And if you have more than one, you had to listen to those voicemails in reverse chronological order.
But that can be a thing of the past. With visual voicemails, you don't even need to dial anything to find out who left the call, how long the message is and what they said. You can listen to messages in any order. The first one of these apps was introduced way back in 2007 when it was added to the iPhone.
Android voicemail – Android
The Android operating system includes a native visual voicemail that lets you view voicemail messages in text form. You can view voicemails by going into the dialer and then selecting or swiping over to voicemails.
When you open each logged voicemail, you should see both a Play button (for listening to the message) and transcribed text of the message. If you have an older Android phone or if your service provider doesn't offer visual voicemail, you can download a third-party app.
Google Voice – Android
Google Voice gives you a phone number for calling, texting and voicemail. You must have a G Suite account, and text messaging isn't supported in all geographical locations.
The key part of the voicemail system is that it transcribes fairly well. You can even have those transcriptions emailed to yourself. Google Voice is particularly useful for people who make a lot of international calls.
iPhone voicemail – iPhone
To access your iPhone's built-in visual voicemail, open the 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 you'll be connected to an audio-only automated voicemail system.
If the latter occurs, then visual voicemail is not provided by your carrier. If you still want to access visual voicemail, your best bet is to download a third-party option.
HulloMail – Android, iPhone
HulloMail is a solid third-party visual voicemail service with premium features for business subscribers. The free app lets you view your voicemail inbox at a glance and play a message's audio. You can also manage your inbox and send a copy of a voicemail to your email.
Purchasing a business subscription ($5.99 per month or $59.99 per year) opens up a slew of new features, including unlimited cloud storage for your messages and full-text transcriptions.Credit: Thumbtel Ltd.
Subscribers can also search through individual message transcriptions using keywords, so you always find the message you need. And you get an ad-free experience.
YouMail – Android, iPhoneCredit: YouMail Inc.
Hate being pestered everyday with spam calls and telemarketers? YouMail claims to stop these annoying calls with smart caller ID, giving your visual voicemail a junk mail folder.
Besides ignoring scam calls, you can access your voicemail from any device through the cloud and hold conference calls. The professional account has several business-centric features, including a unified voicemail for multiple phones, recording greetings, auto-reply and call routing.
YouMail Professional is available for $12 per month or $120 per year.
InstaVoice – Android, iPhoneCredit: InstaVoice
InstaVoice voicemail management system allows you to organize, view and reply to messages any way you choose. The chat interface organizes your most important conversations for you, allowing you to review missed call alerts, text messages and visual voicemail transcription. Using the app, you can send voice messages to your recipient through SMS. The account lets you store unlimited messages, and you can access your voicemail through any device as well as your email.
One account supports multiple phone lines. Premium features, such as transcription and voice messages, cost credits, with the app charging $0.99 for 100 credits.
To use this app for free, you really have to be messaging back and forth with someone else who also uses InstaVoice.
Visual Voicemail Plus - Android
The user interface isn't great on the Visual Voicemail Plus app. It's outdated, but it works. You can set this app to block specific callers, keep your phone from ringing, set up caller specific greetings or set greetings based on time or date.
You can reply to messages with voice instant messaging. Voicemail transcriptions can be forwarded to your email. You can even receive faxes through visual voicemail plus.
Additional reporting by Mona Bushnell and Andreas Rivera.