Visual Voicemail, which debuted on AT&T with the first-generation iPhone in 2007, is an incredibly useful feature that does away with the need to make a phone call to hear your voicemail messages and allows you to see a list of messages at a glance and choose the ones you want to hear in any order you desire. However, there are ways to improve upon the experience and Libon Voicefeed for the iPhone has done just this, giving users the ability customize voicemail greetings for individual callers, get written transcriptions of voicemails, and more.
Libon Voicefeed is free and offers several features beyond visual voicemail at no charge:
- Text transcription of your voicemails – scan through your messages when in a meeting
- Customized greetings for up to 3 groups of contacts – greet each contact appropriately
- Greetings you can either record or simply text! – no need to record each message
- Smart VoiceTags – greet all your callers by their name, or even let them know where you are …
- Push alert and Email notifications of incoming voicemails – never miss a message
- Libon Chat – chat with all other Libon users for free
- Message context – see what your caller just posted on Facebook or Twitter
A premium subscription, which costs $9.99 per year, gets you unlimited customized greetings, a larger selection of voices (to read your custom greetings to callers), unlimited storage for your voicemails, and mp3 files of your new voicemails via email so you can listen to them anywhere you can check your email.
To get started with Libon Voicefeed, you need to create an account and go through an activation process. Creating an account is free (you can choose whether or not to go for a premium subscription later) and the activation process requires you to make a phone call to do the magic to reroute your voicemail to Voicefeed away from your carrier’s system. This is a painless process and it can be reversed in the future should you decide to go back to plain vanilla visual voicemail from your carrier. Note that in the U.S., Voicefeed currently works only with AT&T, Verizon, Sprint and even T-Mobile.
During the set-up process, Voicefeed will add two entries to your Contacts as shortcuts to activate and deactivate the service.
Once your account is set up and Voicefeed is activated, you can begin creating custom greetings for specific callers or groups of callers. My one gripe here is that Voicefeed does not recognize any groups you may have already created in your Contacts list though this feature is on the developer’s radar for possible inclusion in the future.
You can record custom greetings using your own voice or type greetings that will be read by a computerized voice. For each custom greeting, you drag and drop people from your Contacts list into the greeting’s virtual bucket, which is illustrated well in this demo video:
Then as long as callers aren’t hiding their Caller ID and they’re calling from a number stored in your Contacts list, they’ll hear the greeting you’ve assigned for them when you don’t answer the phone. You can get very specific with your greetings, making up ones for individual people if you’d like. I have a custom greeting specifically for my husband, making for a very personalized approach for loved ones when you can’t pick up the phone.
You’ll get a push notification when there’s a new voicemail waiting for you and a badge count on the app’s icon will show the number of new messages.
In its last update, Voicefeed also got a blacklist feature that lets you create a custom greeting for anyone not in your contacts list or who has hidden their caller ID, a nice touch if you really want to filter out people you don’t know or those who are hiding their identity.
When it comes to checking your messages, you can listen to them right within the app or if you’re a premium subscriber and have enabled email notifications within Voicefeed, you’ll get an MP3 file of each voicemail emailed to you.
If you activate the beta transcription option, you can simply read your messages within the app. However, transcription is not very accurate (no less so than Google Voice’s own transcription feature) but it can be good in a pinch if you’re not in an environment where you can stop and listen to your voicemails.
Voicefeed also offers features that go well above and beyond what you might expect. If you’re really into Twitter and Facebook, Voicefeed also offers the ability to customize your voicemail greetings with your last posted status. And, you can also check your voicemail messages from a landline by dialing the designated access number for your country (which is 347-694-8001 in the U.S.) and using a personalized access code provided in the app.
I found Voicefeed to work reliably in catching every call I didn’t answer and playing the appropriate custom message for callers as I specified. For the casual consumer, Voicefeed may not be a compelling option over standard Visual Voicemail but I can see it being a worthwhile tool for business users who regularly field calls from customers, colleagues, contractors, and others. For these users, Voicefeed would make it easy to provide a welcoming and informational greeting for customers and provide more relevant information separately for other callers.
If you want to give Voicefeed a try, it’s free in the App Store and takes only a couple of minutes to set up. Libon Voicefeed is reliable and provides features carriers could learn from in a relatively easy to use package.