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  • irishtimes.com - Posted: October 21, 2010 @ 2:47 pm

    Say Hullo

    Ciara O'Brien

    Possibly one of the most useful apps I’ve come across this month for the iPhone is HulloMail. It’s voicemail, but with a difference. Replacing your network operator’s voicemail service, it’s similar to the visual voicemail that was a much talked about feature of the original iPhone.

    Not only does it organise your voicemail within the app into sound files you can play at your leisure, it also emails them to an address of your choice.

    Two reasons why I love it: I frequently forget my mobile phone, which means I miss calls and messages; and when I do have it, it’s usually on silent for eight hours a day. Any messages I do get might not be picked up for a few hours. With that in mind, the ability to get notifications of voicemail by email is useful.

    I also have a serious hatred of voicemail. There’s little I can do about getting voicemail, but anything that means I can skip the less important messages until later and deal with the urgent ones is welcome.

    And of course, the app itself is free.

    Setting up the account is a little complex – you have to sign up for a free HulloMail account, register your phone number, activate voicemail and set up the various alerts you want – but once you get it up and running it’s an easy enough process. It saves some contacts to your phonebook for activating and deactivating the voicemail account.

    I set mine up using a Gmail account, which was easy enough, and also set it as my message store with HulloMail Sync. A Mobile Me account will work in a similar way in keeping your message status synchronised

    You can also send short voice messages through the app without even making a call. If you are contacting another Hullomail user, the message will go straight to them; otherwise, it can be sent to an email account.

    It has a missed call notification, so when your phone is off or out of coverage, you will be alerted to those who tried to call but didn’t leave a message as soon as you have phone service again. This is already offered by some of the networks, but not all, so it’s a handy feature to have.

    It also means you can catch out the people who try to dodge making calls and swear they tried to ring, but it went straight to your voicemail so they left a message…

    When you’re travelling, you can set Hullomail to answer all your calls, and you can simply pick up the voicemails on email, or through the app when you get to a wifi hotspot, neatly sidestepping the roaming charges.

    However, there are some drawbacks. Because it forwards your missed calls to a landline, you will pay or use your plan’s inclusive minutes to send calls to voicemail. It will also mean some data charges – although the messages are small enough in size – so if you have free access to voicemail on your current network, you might not be as keen to add to your bill.

    It’s also not an option for phone plans that don’t allow you to forward calls – namely pre-paid accounts, cutting off a large portion of mobile phone users in Ireland.

    Synchronising your contacts with the application seems to be easier for Android and Blackberry users, who can do it through the phone. For iPhone users, however, you need to go to the website to set it up.

    HulloMail also works with Android and Blackberry systems

    • John Lunney says:

      This app would not be necessary if the Irish phone operators were not living in the Stone Age, and allowed their customers to use the features provided natively by their phones.