If you do not use Google Voice (read: have an iPhone), Ribbit is an application that you will come to love quickly. It will make you fall in love with voicemail.
I have long hated voicemail: people assume that you get them in realtime, demanding instant turn around. I would forget to check my messages, and they would build until 45 unlistened blips were scaring me. There is a better way, and that is Ribbit.
Ribbit takes over your voicemail, changing the recorded backing to a wonderfully British women that explains that you can leave a message. Once the message has been left, Ribbit uploads it to itself, transcribes it, stores it in its web interface, and the sends you a text and email with the transcription. Presto.
I live in my email inbox, and to get my translated messages there was like warm breeze around hair. I loved it. The best part of all, now your voicemail are searchable. Once they reach Gmail, the transcriptions are part of your inbox, meaning that you can find them. No more losing a message when you erase it, it is forever yours. Take a look at what part of the interface looks like:
Transcription is quite strong. Ribbit generally did a very accurate job of transcribing even my more difficult messages. The system does seem to have problems, obviously, when there is more than one person speaking in the background. There are two transcription options, fully automated and partially human aided. I chose the fully automated option, to speed along transcriptions. Generally, I got an email with the full transcription in around three minutes.
I will never listen to a voicemail on my iPhone again. Never.
Ribbit does much more than that however, it is also a fully functioning VoIP call service. Call quality was very clear, both in a recorded test, and anecdotally from the two people who I tested the calling with.
In conjunction with Ribbit’s core platform, the service has a number of amazing applications programmed to work on the system. They have a SMS widget that you can place onto your blog, or social media presence, and send text messages to any phone in the UK or US, for free. My personal favorite is their “Conference Now” application, that lets you build a quick five person conference call, for free, with audio controls over who is speaking.
Ribbit is developing an iPhone application, provided Apple will let it past the gate. The application will do what we have always wanted, record and send a voice message as a voicemail to a phone, without ever ringing them up. Ribbit calls them “shouts.” Once I have this, my total call level will be halved.
Right now Ribbit is free, but eventually they are going to begin charging for parts of their service. TechCrunch reports that the two pricing tiers will be between $10 and $30 monthly, if you want things such as human transcription, etc. We have a number of Ribbit invites, holler in the comments if you want on.
The only downside to the service, is that for the moment you cannot use it in Chrome.
If you would like to hear the lovely British woman’s voice from Ribbit, feel free to call my phone and hear it. I won’t answer it for an hour: 1 541 231 7371