Sometimes a seemingly small adjustment can make all the difference. Coca-Cola was invented by a pharmacist, originally intended as a patent medicine. Eventually with a change in spin, it became the world’s most famous beverage. Rogaine was originally intended to lower blood pressure, but it came with a funny side effect. Soon, increasing hair growth became its main appeal. It should come as no surprise then that while basic voicemail started out well enough, humanity soon found improvements.

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Most will remember visual voicemail as a revelation unveiled by Steve Jobs at the very first iPhone event back in January of 2007. And what a monumental announcement it was! Voicemail had already been around for about 30 years by that time. No one could have imagined that a new spin on an old convention was coming and that it would be so compelling. Some might contend today that Apple itself has struggled to reinvent its iPhone in any meaningful way after being around a mere 14 years.

Interestingly, in that same inaugural year of the iPhone and the mass marketing of visual voicemail, a scrappy little company by the name of YouMail became the first third-party, multi-platform visual voicemail service for mobile phones. We came up with the idea to store voicemail in the cloud rather than the mobile carrier’s network, and to provide access to it through any web browser or by email. Pretty neat, right? In 2009, we were the first to extend visual voicemail to an app for the iPhone, Android, and Blackberry platforms, along with an API to build clients for Windows Phone 7 and WebOS.

If you’re too young to have been there for it, the significance of the birth of visual voicemail may be lost on you. Traditionally, voicemail was a linear medium. Like listening to an album on CD (“compact disc” for the uninitiated), you had to experience it one song, or message, at a time and in a predetermined order. Not interested in the first message? Hit the skip button to advance to the next. The answering machine serves as the parallel to the cassette tape experience: you had to fast-forward analog style and hope to land somewhere near the start of the next message.

Yes, we lived like cavemen. We know.

That’s why visual voicemail was so appealing.

Visual Voicemail Goes Next Level

Obviously, being able to selectively choose which voice message you want to hear with the tap of a finger was mind-blowing. So here we are, about 14 years after the visual voicemail revolution started. What else could we possibly ask for?

While Apple has gone on to do some incredible things (and some not so incredible), that same little company that co-pioneered visual voicemail the same year has done some growing up of its own. Leveling up your visual voicemail these days means it’s cloud-based, which also means you can access, manage, and forward your messages to other people through an app or web browser from your phone, tablet, or computer. Making your voicemail messages more tangible creates a whole new world of access. Open your messages through email alerts. Automatically forward messages to your employees if you aren’t able to listen to them within an hour of receiving them. Don’t have enough time to listen? Voicemail-to-text-message or voicemail-to-email transcriptions push traditional boundaries by integrating visual voicemail into your other communication platforms.

And once visual voicemail is capable of reaching your other inboxes, responding to customer needs quickly — and thus growing your business — becomes far more realistic. Your team can work together more efficiently to stay on top of every issue and return all incoming calls promptly.

Enhanced visual voicemail also pairs well with other innovations, such as robocall blocking. YouMail’s visual voicemail draws on its industry-leading experience to automatically recognize and filter out spam voicemails to protect your privacy. We even serve particularly troublesome robocallers an “out of service” message that convinces them your number is no longer working and gets you off their call lists.

Being so mobile-friendly is another huge stride. By making YouMail’s visual voicemail for iOS and Android 100 percent free, access to your messages becomes OS-agnostic. Now, regardless whether you’re Team Apple or Team Google — or, gasp!, both — all of your visual voicemail is always at your fingertips.

There really is no better time to get more out of your visual voicemail from your mobile device. You simply need to look around outside of what your carrier offers.

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