YouMail Review Editor's Choice

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$19.99
Editors' rating:
The Pros

Anywhere access to voicemail; Numerous free features and greetings; Accurate transcriptions; Ability to respond to voicemail with e-mail or text messages; Lots of subscription options

The Cons

Word limit for free transcriptions; Clunky contact organization

Verdict

This visual voicemail service offers the best combination of accuracy, ease of use, and helpful features for a reasonable price.

Traditional cell phone voicemail is bound to the handset you're using, which seems logical--until you've triedYouMail. This service allows you to access messages in nearly any way you see fit: on the cell phone itself or online using a PC or Web-connected device, and in any manner that you please.

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Myriad Options

YouMail offers a staggering number of different service plans, ranging from YouMail Grab-It ($2.99 per month, or $29.99 per year), which lets you keep your carrier's voicemail number instead of it being replaced by YouMail's. YouMail Pro ($1.99 per month, or $19.99 per year) strips the interface of advertisements, ups the voicemail capacity to 5,000, and lets callers leave 5-minute messages (over the standard 1-minute) and uses YouMail's voicemail number to receive messages.

Finally, YouMail also offers Read-It, a transcription service that enables you to get text-based versions of voicemail messages. Like its other services, multiple options are available, ranging from free to $27.99 per month, depending on the number of transcriptions provided and whether you want a full or partial transcription (this Preview plans only transcribe up to a minute of a message). The service we reviewed, Read-It Unlimited ($27.99), also comes bundled with YouMail Pro for free.

Setup and Navigation

Signing up for YouMail service is as easy as selecting a service provider (AT&T, Immix, Sprint, T-Mobile, or Verizon Wireless) and entering your e-mail address and phone number. YouMail will shoot a text message to you with an access code that activates the service via the Web (either on the www.youmail.com URL or the m.youmail.com mobile URL). It's worth noting that Sprint charges 20 cents per minute for call forwarding, while this is free with the other carriers.

YouMail's interface is very easy to navigate because it's designed like your e-mail inbox. You can even save, flag, block, or mark messages as spam. We were able to import our Gmail contacts (Hotmail, Yahoo, and a handful of other webmail services are also supported) and add photos so that we could use the visual voicemail to see at a glance who had called or left a message. However, a clunky and sometimes confusing contact database made organizing them into groups a bit of a chore.

Voicemail and Transcriptions

You can download messages as MP3s using the free, ad-based, voice-to-audio service, and even reply to those messages via text or e-mail, which was infinitely helpful as we didn't always have to reach for our phone to respond. This is an excellent option for those stuck in meetings, a movie theater, or other locations where talking on a cell is frowned upon. You can forward messages to others (as you can withPhoneTagandVoiceCloud), but YouMail gives users the ability to embed audio into blogs and Web pages.

Depending on the plan you purchase, you can have transcriptions arrive faster (with computer-based word analyzation) or a little later but with better accuracy (the latter is a premium option which utilizes human-based transcriptions), or read them online or in a text message sent to you phone.

On our tests, speaking at normal speed and volume into a phone, we were received pretty accurate transcriptions with both free and paid service options, but the premium $27.99 version was error-free (the free version couldn't differentiate homophones (two, to, and too) and didn't recognize words such as "Massapequa." Free computer-transcribed messages arrived within seconds, with the human-based transcription arriving in close to 5 minutes.

Extras

One fun feature of YouMail is the ability to select from thousands of free or paid greetings (which run the gamut from professional openings to user-created jingles), record your own with a mic, or upload an existing MP3 or WAV file that can be applied to individual contacts or groups. Unlike PhoneTag and VoiceCloud, storage is not unlimited, but you can download voicemails to your PC to store elsewhere.

Verdict

If you're interested in visual-voicemail service, YouMail is a compelling option. It combines simple setup, accurate transcriptions, loads of free greetings and features for sprucing up your voicemail experience. Plus, its varied pricing options offer more flexibility than PhoneTag and VoiceCloud. At $27.99 per month, the premium plan is not the least expensive, but it's not the priciest, either. Considering all the services it includes, YouMail provides the best value.

Software Type Cell Phone App
Software Type Web App
Platforms Windows
Platforms Mac
Company Website http://www.youmail.com
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6 comments
  • Lindsay Haisley Says:

    My wife and I have had good results with YouMail on our iPhones, and although it doesn't seem to get the hype and publicity that RoboKiller, Nomorobo and other spam blocking apps get, it certainly measures up, and has substantially helped us reduce calls from spoofed numbers as well as from established established scammers and robocallers. It has, on occasion, been overzealous in applying crowd-sourced spam identifications to numbers which should not be blocked - such as robo-called boil-water notices from our rural water supply company. Adding these numbers to YouMail's contact list effectively white-lists them. YouMail is chatty enough (email and smart phone notifications) so that I seldom miss at least a notification that a call has come in and been dropped, sidetraced or blocked.

    I use YouMail in conjunction with my iPhone's "Do Not Disturb" feature in what amounts to a "circle the wagons" approach. This is turned on from morning until night. Only numbers in my personal contact list, or in YouMail's contact list will ring through during this time. All others will get my perfunctory "leave a message" greeting, or if they're blacklisted, either by my blacklist or YouMail's crowd-sourced blocking, they get a standard "number not in service" message - which works far better at suppressing spam phone calls than recorded insults or noises.

    The phone service in this country is in chaos what with the proliferation of spam/scam phone calls and uncertified (spoofed) caller IDs. YouMail does a pretty good job of sorting out the chaos, in our experience. It's not perfect, and we get some false positives, but with work it does the job we need it to do.

    And Peter Erdman, if you're using a paid subscription, on the YouMail website, log into your account and go to Purchases | Orders | View Order (by your subscription) and under Order Options click on "Cancel this order". Have you tried this? Then just delete the app.

  • Joseph Smith Says:

    Calls from my family would never get through to me. Although it did stop unwanted calls, it also stopped important calls and numbers. Waste of money!

  • Susan Kristie Says:

    It doesn't work with a simple Tracfone. After trying unsuccessfully to activate it, then just stopping, I found that Youmail took over my outgoing message and my mail box. I could not change the message nor retrieve my messages. Many e-mails back and forth to youmail customer service were futile. They referred me to Tracfone; Tracfone was not able to undo what youmail did. Many wasted hours and time. Don't bother - not worth it.

  • Peter Erdman Says:

    Screwed up my phone. Looking to cancel but nothing is obvious.

  • Karl. Schemberg Says:

    It's like a virus. Can't remove once installed. What a joke

  • Shelby King Says:

    I am unable to use any other voicemail after I have used YouMail I can't use anything

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