In the last few months, I’ve completely converted over to Google Voice. There are a few people, mostly family and old friends, who still have my original cell phone number. However, since I won’t pay for visual voicemail from Verizon – but I expect visual voicemail – I needed an app to handle that on my Droid.
Most calls go to my Google Voice voicemail. With GV, I’m sent a text message – and an email – transcribing the voice mail. I’ve come to rely on this. For non-GV calls, I’ve been using YouMail. However, you have to pay extra for the transcription and I’m one of those Web 2.0 consumers who expects things to be low-cost or free. YouMail notifies me of new voice mail via SMS, but I still have to call into the service. I am aware that Google Voice gives me the option to forward my phone to my GV Voicemail, but it never seemed to work and people would complain.
So along comes Ribbit Mobile today. (Ribbit is part of salesforce.com.) It’s launched in an invite-only beta, so I logged into my account. As far as I can tell, Ribbit Mobile is another Google Voice. It does almost everything that Google Voice does, finding you at different phones, assigning specific settings to different callers, and more.
I’m using some basic settings – literally, my original mobile number now forwards to my Ribbit Mobile voice mail. That’s it. I ran some tests as well – it transcribed fairly well. Better than Google, to be honest, whose transcriptions often leave me laughing. I receive a text message with the transcription, just like with GV. I can also receive an email.
There are some nifty widgets – for example, I plugged in a widget to my iGoogle page that allows me to access the Ribbit Mobile site, including all my voicemails and settings. They are also offering a nice Adobe Air desktop client and a conference call desktop app.
Ribbit Mobile is in beta, so it is missing some things. Apparently all of their developers use iPhones, because there is a lack of apps for Android, WebOS, or RIM, just to name a few. We don’t all have iPhones, you know. It also seems like you can call from the web, but you’re stuck using your computer’s microphone. This works great if you’ve got a headset – after all, you’re calling from the web and not using your mobile minutes. I don’t think. GV, on the other hand, calls my specified phone and the number, which occasionally does use mobile minutes. I don’t think you can choose a new number with Ribbit Mobile either, which is one of the neat things about GV. I’m stuck with my current, original mobile number. Finally, the only way you can import contacts is via Plaxo. I refuse – absolutely refuse -to add yet another social network (specifically one I don’t like) to the too many of which I am already a part. I would love to be able to import my contacts from Google, which really doesn’t seem like that much of a stretch.
It also looks like Ribbit Mobile might eventually offer a premium, or business-grade, level that includes more features. I suspect that will cost around $30/month (because you aren’t paying enough for your mobile service as is). I am honestly not sure if, as part of the beta, I will have continued access to the full feature set or if they’ll take it away from me after 30 days. I’ll let you know.