Sunday, June 23, 2024

Finally, Email and Voicemail have Merged

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Pop quiz, hotshot: You’re driving down the highway. Suddenly, you remember that you made a commitment to your boss. If you don’t make a note to yourself right now, you may forget, and fail to keep your commitment. What do you do?

A) Keep driving, hope you remember later and risk failure.

B) Find the next exit, park, make a note to yourself and waste time.

C) Make a note to yourself while driving and risk dying in a horrible accident.

D) None of the above.

I confess that I have tried all of them, and hated myself afterwards. I’m happy to tell you, however, that the best answer is D.

Here’s what I do now — whether I’m driving on the freeway, dining with my wife, watching a movie with my kids or doing anything away from my PC: I press “6” on my phone, say my reminder, then hang up. Next time I sit down to my e-mail, I have the reminder sitting there in my inbox as a regular text e-mail.

Nice trick, right? The secret is a free service called

It takes just one minute to sign up with Jott. During the sign-up, they give you a toll-free phone number, which you can put on your speed dial. (I use “6” for
Jott — you can use any number you like.) Then, whenever you want words in your inbox, just press the speed dial, talk, then hang up.

Jott works with any phone, requires no installation and does not send you a sound-file attachment. I’m not aware of any other free service that does this.

And it’s great with voice-recognition. I’ve been amazed by Jott’s accuracy, and impressed by how it handles ambiguity. If Jott can hear the sound, but doesn’t recognize the word (an unusual name, for example), the note you receive will
sound it out in brackets. If it can’t distinguish the sound, it will say “inaudible” in brackets. Jott e-mails also come with a link at the bottom, which play the sound of your recorded message.

When you call Jott, a recorded message says: “Who do you want to Jott?” You can say “me” or say one of your friends, family members or colleagues — or even the name of groups of people, all of whom will get the message.

That’s right. You can use Jott to send messages to other people. Because it’s easy to send (like voice-mail), and arrives as searchable text (like e-mail), Jott messages are better than either voice- or e-mail. Jott gives you all the benefits of both voice- and e-mail, with the disadvantages of neither.

Before you can send to others, you must build your contact list at the Web site. You can add them manually, or upload all your contacts from Outlook, Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail, AOL or other applications.

I’ve described the basic functionality of Jott, but a community of rabid enthusiasts is forming around the product, and doing some pretty exotic things.
For example, some use the e-mail feature of their blogging service to do what Jott calls Jottblogging — posting to your blog by talking into a phone.

Jott is free, so what’s the catch?

Jott will be eventually supported by advertising, although I haven’t seen any ads yet. They also make money by charging you something if you want to exceed the 15-second limit on messages. You have to sign up for that.

Jott is currently in beta, but I haven’t seen a single problem or error. The company released a “Beta 2” version this week. It’s available in the U.S. and
Canada only.

If you want total recall, always just a button-push away, sign up for Jott.

Don’t forget!

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