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Touch Voicemail iPhone app makes smartphones smarter

Modern cellphones are smart, but that’s not what it feels like when it comes to voicemail. Until now the only way to get at missed incoming messages is to call your phone network’s voicemail service, wade through clumsy prompts and listen to messages one-by-one.

Vodafone, Spark and 2degrees all say they have visual voicemail apps on the way which will change that. Meanwhile Hamilton-based Bridge Point already has an iPhone Touch Voicemail app in Apple’s iTunes app store.

Bridge Point director Ben Wilson says the app allows users to manage voicemail without calling their mobile company.

Touch Voicemail has a clean iOS7 — soon iOS8 — user interface. It looks almost as if it is part of the iPhone’s operating system and works as if it were. So, you can swipe items to delete them just as in the iOS Mail app.

The app shows a visual list of callers. You can listen to the messages in the order you want. That’s great for voicemail triage: skipping past unimportant or non-critical messages to the essential ones.

Once you open a message, you’ll see the caller’s photo if that’s stored on your phone. You’ll also see a playback button so you can listen to the message they left. There’s also a return call button. A third button allows you to send an SMS message to the caller.

Touch Voicemail intercepts missed calls and send them to its own server. From there Bridge Point sends the message to your phone as data, either through the mobile data network or by wi-fi if that’s available.

While the basic Touch Voicemail app is free, there’s also a NZ$25 a year Pro version. The extra money allows you to store more voicemail messages and to create different greetings for different circumstances.

You will use minutes from your mobile account to transfer calls to the server. That might not work if you have a prepay account. If you’re not connected to wi-fi, you’ll need to pay for the downloaded data. This isn't expensive and you’ll save on the cost of calling conventional voice mail.

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