Polar Bear Farm decrees voice messaging to be the future

By tonyhughes Hughes, in , posted: 20-Jul-2008 18:03

I am not so sure about that - more like a blast from the past, but one that may see a renaissance. Frankly I hate voicemail myself, but the concept of using pre-recorded voice as a primary method of communication is interesting.

You see, voicemail is a failover system - you tried ringing, clearly you wanted a live conversation, but if the person does not answer, you end up having a one way affair.

But what if you wanted to simply communicate a fact, statement, directions, instructions etc, and didn't need to chat to the other party about the weather? Or you want to say your peice without being interrupted?

Voice messaging such as Telegram for the iPhone from Polar Bear Farm (A New Zealand developer), gives you a clean and tidy interface for $9.95USD a year on a subscription basis - fantastic price if you use it a lot. The messaging will be directly into the app if the reciever is also an iPhone-toting Telegram subscriber, or if you specifiy a recipient with Telegram, the audio message will simply be attached to an email.

The concept is very familiar to Mauricio Freitas, who led the design of Telecom New Zealands own QuickChat voice messaging system, that was widely used on New Zealands TDMA cell network before SMS capable phones became commonplace. Rather than a subscription service, Quickchat simply charged 20c per message sent, maximum of 20 seconds. A major limitation was the fact that you had to enter the recipients phone number from scratch each time (it simply read the DTMF tones), whereas Telegram from PBF obviously hooks into the iPhones contact list, and appears to be able to queue messages for sending if you are out of coverage (send loads of voice messages while you are on the road where you otherwise could not be productive).

Sadly Quickchat is no longer active in New Zealand, but Telegram fills the gap for iPhone users at least.

For those of us tied to a network without the ability to run the iPhone at present, a Windows Mobile version would have gone down well, but Layton Duncan of Polar Bear Farm maintains he is a firm Mac fan from way back, and is focussed solely on the OS X world - at least that means his efforts will not be spread thin.

Updates to Telegram pending through the Appstore (through which Telegram is exclusively distributed) will see features such as auto-complete for contact list lookups.

I look forward to using the application as soon as I can run an iPhone on Telecoms shiny new W-CDMA network!

More information

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Comment by sbiddle, on 20-Jul-2008 18:45

While Quickchat doesn't exist any longer Vodafone's system still lets you send messages. It really amazed me that it was around before Quickchat and yet VF never did any publicity for it!

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