The days of dialing your voicemail to enter a PIN and hear your messages are over. Well, you can still technically check your voicemail this way, but when visual voicemail is an option, why would you choose anything else?
When using visual voicemail through an app or your phone carrier or manufacturer, you can see all of your voicemails at once. Sometimes, you can even view a transcript preview of the call, so you know what the message is about before you even open it. Being able to see all your voicemails makes it much easier to maintain your messages and not end up with 20 messages that you just haven’t gotten around to deleting.
If you don’t have the option of using a proprietary visual voicemail app through your phone’s manufacturer or carrier, you’ll need to download a third-party app instead. Though all the options on this list are vetted and pretty awesome, here’s everything you’ll need to look for if you stray from the list and go searching on your own:
- Ease of Use: The best visual voicemail apps are easy to navigate. Even if you only get a few voicemails every month, the app should be simple enough to use that you don’t dread checking your voicemail. An ideal user interface for a visual voicemail app will display everything you need to see on the home screen, so you can view your voicemails as soon as the app opens. It’ll also make any other settings you may want to access easy to find.
- Special Features: There are quite a few special features that come with a visual voicemail app that you might not see if using your phone’s built-in voicemail service. One feature that most visual voicemail apps have in common is the ability to transcribe the audio from a voicemail to text, so you can quickly skim a voicemail and pick out the important parts without having to listen to it. Some voicemail apps, like Google Voice, also allow you to search through past transcripts. You can also customize your voicemail greeting and, depending on the app, even personalize greetings for individual people. Voicemail apps will often incorporate some type of spam blocking feature as well, but not always, so be sure to check if this is an important feature for you.
- Customer Support: Sometimes, you’ll get a voicemail with important information about a doctor’s appointment or a job interview that you want to save. In case anything goes wrong with the app—like your voicemails all get deleted, or they’re not being transcribed properly—you’ll want to ensure there’s excellent customer service on the other end of the app.
- Cost: Since there are some great free options out there, you shouldn’t need to pay anything for a visual voicemail app. That said, some visual voicemail apps offer paid subscriptions that come with extra features. If you end up needing more transcribed voicemails than the free plan offers, more personalized greetings, or voicemails for more than one number, a paid subscription would be worth it.
Before testing out visual voicemail apps, make sure that your phone doesn’t already have a built-in option for you. Through your phone’s carrier or manufacturer, you might have this nifty feature already on your phone just waiting to be enabled.
Do a quick search on your phone for “Visual Voicemail” and see if there’s an app already installed on your phone. If something pops up, that’s from your phone’s manufacturer; the two largest manufacturers with visual voicemail built-in are Samsung and Apple. Setting up visual voicemail through your phone’s manufacturer is pretty straightforward, and you should be able to intuitively follow the on-screen steps.
If your phone doesn’t have a built-in, proprietary visual voicemail app, there’s still the option of an app from your phone carrier. Several phone carriers have developed a visual voicemail app you can download from the app store to use if you’re a customer. Here are a few of the most popular options out there right now:
For all the apps listed above, there’s no iOS version. This is likely because Apple has its own visual voicemail app that it wants people to use if they have an iPhone.
If you can’t find a visual voicemail app through your phone’s carrier or manufacturer, don’t worry! There are plenty of other great options for you to check out.
- ✓ Has a free version with no ads
- ✓ Can transcribe voice to text
- ✓ You can personalize greetings
- ✗ Extra transcriptions require a subscription
- ✗ More than one personalized greeting requires a subscription
Voxist is the go-to visual voicemail app for people who want a seamless transition from their old voicemail. When you first download the app, you’ll input your existing phone number, create an account, and then simply follow the instructions to connect your phone number and finish setting up your new visual voicemail.
With a free Voxist plan, you get 10 voicemails per month transcribed to text so you can read them instead of having to listen to the voicemail. You can also connect a single email account and set up one personalized greeting.
To get more out of Voxist, you can opt to pay for a monthly subscription. Voxist Premium ($4.99 per month) gives you 30 transcriptions and five personalized greetings every month. Or, you can spring for Voxist Pro ($9.99 per month) to get 100 transcriptions every month and unlimited personalized greetings for everyone in your contacts list. Voxist Pro also allows you to read your voicemails in over 70 different languages.
There’s no limit to the number of voicemails you can store in Voxist, either. Even though there are only a certain number of transcriptions available per month, you can receive and store as many voicemails as you want.
- ✓ Free version with everything you need
- ✓ Visual voicemail + excellent spam call blocker
- ✓ Free personalized greetings
- ✗ Free version is ad-supported
- ✗ Getting taken off robocaller lists is a Plus plan feature only
Nowadays, it seems like robocalls and spam calls are much more frequent, and it doesn’t seem to matter how many numbers you block because there are always more. YouMail is an app with two major purposes—visual voicemail and spam call blocking—and it’s an excellent choice for those who constantly have to deal with both.
The app’s built-in call blocker is updated every hour with new spam numbers to help recognize and block them if they call you. You can also manually block anyone else from your contacts if you need to, like an ex that won’t leave you alone or an insurance agent that doesn’t seem to understand you don’t require their services anymore.
The free, ad-supported version of YouMail blocks the worst robocalls, marks calls as spam when they’re recognized, transcribes your voicemails to text, and lets you record personalized greetings for everyone. You’ll only have access to self-service support in the free version, so if you think you might benefit from live chat and email support, you’ll have to upgrade to the Plus plan for $5.99 per month.
In addition to the extra customer support, the Plus plan promises to block all unwanted robocalls, send transcriptions to you through email or text if requested, and show zero ads. This paid plan also helps catch spam calls as they’re happening and even sometimes plays ‘Number Disconnected’ tones, which results in your number getting taken off dialing lists.
- ✓ Free to use
- ✓ Transcribes voicemails to text
- ✓ Great for international calls
- ✗ Have to pay $20 to use your current number
If you want a second phone number to give to retailers, service providers, or anyone else besides family, Google Voice is the app for you. All you need is an existing Google account and you’re good to go. Once you set up your account, you’ll be able to create a unique number to use with Google Voice.
You could also use your existing phone number with the app, though porting your existing phone number costs $20. Plus, transferring your current phone number to Google Voice essentially means switching phone service providers. In Google’s guide to porting an existing number, it states that your service provider cancels your phone service after the port is complete.
Google Voice transcribes your voicemail to text automatically and even lets you listen in on messages while they’re being left for you. Calls, texts, and voicemails that go through your Google Voice number are backed up, so you can easily search through your history.
You can also block pesky spam callers through the app if they aren’t already detected and blocked by Google. Then, if you’re planning on traveling internationally any time soon, Google Voice is also great for making cheap international calls.
As with many other Google services, you can use Google Voice across platforms. This means that you could primarily use Google Voice on your smartphone, but then also check your voicemails through a web browser on any computer.