Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Skype for iPhone – if it aint ontop it aint on, so whats the point?

I have been personally skeptical about VoIP on the mobile. Reasons being that I have a tonne of bundled minutes in my package and all the VoIP clients I've used are either clunky+geeky and/or a change in behaviour is required to use effectively. So, I just cant see the point of making a call via VoIP unless it's international, but then if its international, I’d rather use my laptop. Unless of course the mobile phone is designed to be a VoIP phone then usability is addressed and away we go.

With Skype for iPhone I will probably end up eating part of my hat. I use skype all the time on my laptop and desktop. I use it both personally and for business. Skype has become part of my family lingo, we use it to video call each other and even my mum who recently retired says, as if its a term she has used all her life, "I'll skype you tomorrow!".

So I donloaded Skype first thing this morning. But my deep down geek reared its head, am I sill online when its not the top app? It's not and this is a big imitation of the app. If its not running as the top app then you are effectively offline. So what's the point of it? Well my view is its great to make cheap international calls and the occassional skype chat, but its not seamless and requires proactive effort to take incoming calls and IM's.

Despite this slight flaw, Skype is one of those apps that has trancended geekyness and has for many of us a unique emotional ranking (I can't shake the geek), and this is where I believe it has the edge.

So, I'll be honest, although it has this limitation it only took me 2 secs to get up and running and whats more, its free from the iPhone app store, so what do you have to lose?

Overall on first impressions it is simple to use and it works - if you are a skype user you will immediately appreciate it. I can see myself using it to make international skype out calls which you can make to any of your iPhone contacts seamlessly.

No doubt I will leave it as the top app whilst on the sofa to take calls from my mum. I do look forward to video. And in the office it will be great to switch to mobile and walk away to take or make a call -- but note to do this requires a behavioural change and only because its Skype am I willing to do it.

IMHO for the app to be truly unbelieavably life changing it needs a setting to be always on. I understand the iPhone is optimized to save on battery life so something needs to be tweaked and I hope that using the SDK 3.0 this can be addressed using some background processing.

Does it work? Yes. I ran some basic tests, first to test out the call quality and secondly to see if the mobile app supports HulloMail. I asked a colleague to call me. Great audio. It really works well.

The sequence of events using HulloMail as Skype voicemail is:

1 – Call coming in to iPhone Skype App
2 – Call went through to HulloMail. Chris leaves me a message and HulloMail notifies me I have a new voicemail.
3 – using the iPhone Mail inbox I see the HulloMail voicemail from Chris
4 – Select the MP3 in the email
5 – MP3 audio plays
6 - From the iPhone Mail App, I can now reply to teh voicemial by email, text or call back in one easy step.....

Side note - instructions for setting up HulloMail for Skype.
You first need Skype Out. Then under Call Forwarding tab in your Skype settings enter your Personal HulloMail Number.

Your Personal HulloMail Number can be found in your registration email and under Service Info tab @ www.hullomail.com/login.

Friday, 27 March 2009

Google Voice - You can't use it for voice mail but if you do it seems they own it?

I saw this tweet last week
twitter.com/ClaxtonLegal - "@SandraSingerEsq I read that Google's TOS indicates that they own all info, including the voicemail they change into emails/SMS. Not sure"

I thought I would check it out....

Clicked on Terms of Service -> Error Page Not found

hmm I thought that strange - so I googled https://www.google.com/voice/help/terms and brought up the cached page (great feature Google)

I had a quick look at their terms. Under Rules and Regulations:
Subscriber agrees to abide by all applicable local, state, national, foreign and international laws and regulations and is solely responsible for all acts or omissions that occur under Subscriber's account or password, including the content of Subscriber's transmissions through the Service. By way of example, and not as a limitation, Subscriber agrees not to:

* Use the Service in connection with chain letters, junk email, voice mail, faxes, spamming or any duplicative or unsolicited messages...

UPDATE: do they own it? Answer is no! under help/legal notices....

New Tweet says...
@tazmaniax RT @BryanGriffith: Google specifically disclaims ownership of message content. https://www.google.com/voice/help/legalnotices #GoogleVoice

Your Intellectual Property Rights

Google does not claim any ownership in any of the content that you or your callers upload, transmit or store in your Google Voice account. We will not use any of your content for any purpose except to provide you with the Service.

Voicemail that's yours to keep! too...

Thursday, 26 March 2009

New iPhone coming in June?

It’s only been ten days since Apple previewed the new iPhone 3.0 operating system, but today they announced their Worldwide Developers Conference will kick off on 8 June in San Francisco. I hope Apple announce a new phone to go with their spangly new OS.

Apple might just be as passionate about voicemail as us. Their new firmware includes a voice memo app that allows iPhone users to send their voice messages over email - a feature that HulloMail has be able to do since day one. Apple’s news combined with Google Voice means March has been a big month for voicemail - voicemail’s fashionable again.

Wednesday, 25 March 2009

HulloMail in Smartphone & PDA Essentials Magazine

After initially having to be dragged kicking and screaming on to Twitter, I've fully submitted and I can't tear myself away. I get itchy for Twitter news when I'm unable to check it and envy users in the US where it works slightly differently - the updates get sent to their phones via SMS and they text back their replies. How great is that?

I'm all for converging technologies - my phone is also my camera, my laptop doubles up as my music player, and I can check my email from my games console. In the same way, HulloMail puts my mobile voicemail messages into my email inbox where I can download them to my hard drive or forward them to my friends.

For more on the brilliance of HulloMail check out the latest issue of Smartphone & PDA Essentials. It includes an interview with our CEO, Andy Murrariz. The article also looks in detail at the drawbacks of the old archaic operator voicemail systems and explores the ways in which HulloMail can unlock voicemail's potential.

Run down to your newsagent and take a peek.

Monday, 16 March 2009

Google Voice. Now how bad is this for British mobile businesses?

Answer – it’s not, cos it irrelevant to us, DUH

I should know, cos I run HulloMail and here’s how it looks to me…

Wisdom of crowds? I think not.

So, how many monkeys does it take to get a 20/20 view on Google’s Voice Service?

Here in the UK it looks like crowdsourcing aint the answer if even a blog scrum on Techmeme can’t see the wood for the trees.

Problem is you can’t map a US solution to a Non-US context and expect it to work.

Why not?

Why not? Cos it’s a solution to their problems and not ours – it’s a superb example of what I call ‘the fallacy of misplaced solutions’.

What does this mean? Quite literally – it’s a solution ok, but a solution that’s misplaced – ie ‘out of place’ here in the UK

What I mean is, if you’re stateside then you PAY TO RECEIVE CALLS . So let’s take their universal number for all your life and after concept – OK – so from now on your mum calls this number which then calls you – right so how does that get billed then?

Over here mobile has developed with different infrastructure, business models, usage patterns and its our main comms line with the world. So the universalist approach that works for Google in search (ie everyone everywhere searches for stuff and you can advertise to them and build a universal solution on the back of that) won’t work for mobile.

Global is the new local

“A number for life”
– It’s been a number of years since UK phone users have enjoyed the freedom of moving between networks whilst keeping their number. People can already opt for a mobile number for life, without having to change it now.

“All change?” – Some say Google Voice is an attack on Skype; I have all my mates’ contacts already in Skype, and Skype is damn good - we use between mates and customers. Why would anyone now move across to Google and give up your skype ID?

“One number for all devices” –. I have a lot of American friends, and some do like the utility belt with multiple devices. So with Google Voice they can now take some time to set up rules for which device is called when, and for how long, until it eventually hunts you down. My big question is though - how many users in the UK have multiple devices for calling, texting and email anyway? For those of us in the UK that do have multiple mobile phones, there is a reason for it – we want you to have one number or the other! Do we really want all of those calls coming into one place?

“Free calls?” – I’ve already touched on this but by using Google’s new “number for life and after life”, all calls to your mobile will be indirect and made by Google. This works stateside because it’s the recipient that pays for their incoming calls, but in the UK as well as the rest of the civilized world, it is the calling party that pays the charge! So will your wife / girlfriend / kids that have free minutes to your mobile now lose these? How will Google accommodate free inclusive minutes different numbers with their current pricing regime? Who will pay for the call forwarding charge between your universal number and your mobile.!???

“Your email” – Many would say I’m obsessed with turning voicemail into email, so I’m absolutely flummoxed that Google have not fully integrated voicemails into GMAIL, and instead use another inbox! Man are they now so big its takes them two years to do something simple – how are they going to keep up with the fast-paced internet world? If you’re with Hotmail or Yahoo!, you’re out of luck, or is it time to change your email address too?

Fear and loathing?

So is this just so predictable, the old ‘he would say this anyway wouldn't he’ syndrome?

Aren’t I just another grandiose CEO of pinprick start-up that quivers after the Deathstar drops its payload?

Like – hello, no way dude! I've got the R&D team flat out right now working on a search engine.