Review: SimulScribe

41 Comments

SimulScribe 2Functionality
It takes about 3 minutes to transcribe a message, which isn’t an unbearable length, depending on urgency. SimulSays notifies that you’ve got a new message before it’s been processed, so if you’re expecting a call from someone, you can listen to it right away if you’re in a rush. As for the quality of the transcription, it’s safe to say the technology’s still have a ways to go. When words are unintelligible, you’ll get some question marks, but what hurts the experience more is when words are misinterpreted, and you end up having to listen to the original message anyway, killing the point of having the whole thing set up in the first place. We found that the translation software leaned towards typically-used phrases like “meet me”, “talk to you later”, “call me” and the like. For example, one message transcribed “have you had anything to eat” as “how you can reach me”. To be fair, the message was spoken at the same speed you would normally speak, and in our experience SimulScribe is fairly accurate when the message is clearly enunciated. So the real question is, can you trust your callers to listen to the nice robot lady who tells them to “speak slowly and clearly”?

Verdict
SimulScribe gets major points for originality. Spinvox is the only thing that we’ve seen remotely like it, and even then, SimulScribe is more about transcribing incoming rather than outgoing information. SimulSays, although still in beta and has a few more tweaks to go before its January launch, shows a lot of promise and will do well to really anchor the service on your BlackBerry. Despite having an innovative product and a clean interface, the transcription technology still needs work in order to be a viable replacement for voicemail. One thing Google does to refine its translated pages is to let users make their own transcriptions, which SimulScribe could do in time; the more you correct SimulScribe, the more it learns and improves in quality.

A pipe dream maybe, but there are some pretty exciting possibilities a product like this opens up. It’s a good start and a decent buy as is, but your mileage will vary depending entirely on the people who leave you messages and how clearly they speak. For now, we’ll give SimulScribe a 3.5 Robotic Ladies out 5 – once the transcription gets refined and SimulSays packs a few more features, we would be looking at a 4. If this sounds like something you’d like to give a shot, you can pick up a free 30-day trial exclusively from BlackBerry Cool.

  • RichyB

    I used SimluSays / SimulScribe for about 5 months but deleted it resently. When it worked it was great. I had very few problems with the transcription. Only a few messages callers left in other languages were an issue for SimluScribe. However, I woudl never get the transcriptions unless I requested a “redo”. Their support center could not find anything and were enver able to resolve this. They were friendly but still unable. I also had never problems with the software losing connection to the server. In the screen shot you see the big green dot, indicating connection with the server. After an hour or so mine would change to yellow then red indicating no connection. Multiple restarts of SimluSays resulted in nothing only a full hard reset of the device would get me back to green. After a week or so like this I gave up and went back to regular Vmail. Bottom line – very cool when it works, but I’ll wait for version 2 or 3 of the production version to be sure the bugs are worked out…

  • RichyB

    I used SimluSays / SimulScribe for about 5 months but deleted it resently. When it worked it was great. I had very few problems with the transcription. Only a few messages callers left in other languages were an issue for SimluScribe. However, I woudl never get the transcriptions unless I requested a “redo”. Their support center could not find anything and were enver able to resolve this. They were friendly but still unable. I also had never problems with the software losing connection to the server. In the screen shot you see the big green dot, indicating connection with the server. After an hour or so mine would change to yellow then red indicating no connection. Multiple restarts of SimluSays resulted in nothing only a full hard reset of the device would get me back to green. After a week or so like this I gave up and went back to regular Vmail. Bottom line – very cool when it works, but I’ll wait for version 2 or 3 of the production version to be sure the bugs are worked out…

  • http://www.muzikfetish.net/ Ty

    I’ve been using it for almost a year now. My ONLY complaint is the delivery time of the SMS. 97% of the time, I can read & understand what was sent & never go back to listen to the message.

  • http://www.muzikfetish.net Ty

    I’ve been using it for almost a year now. My ONLY complaint is the delivery time of the SMS. 97% of the time, I can read & understand what was sent & never go back to listen to the message.

  • scott

    i love simulscribe, one note on the review – you can turn off the voicemail message about “your message will be transcribed…” by going to the simulscribe website, logging into your account and deselecting the option there. With that deselected I can’t speak highly enough about this product.

  • scott

    i love simulscribe, one note on the review – you can turn off the voicemail message about “your message will be transcribed…” by going to the simulscribe website, logging into your account and deselecting the option there. With that deselected I can’t speak highly enough about this product.

  • http://www.blackberrycool.com/ BlackBerry Cool Simon

    Oh hey, so that’s what the “Play Tagline” box means. Thanks, Scott!

  • http://www.blackberrycool.com BlackBerry Cool Simon

    Oh hey, so that’s what the “Play Tagline” box means. Thanks, Scott!

  • rony

    Hey guys I haven’t used simulscribe but have been using callwave which does the same thing. Transcription is not the best but everything else it does is super fast

  • rony

    Hey guys I haven’t used simulscribe but have been using callwave which does the same thing. Transcription is not the best but everything else it does is super fast

  • rony

    Hey guys I haven’t used simulscribe but have been using callwave which does the same thing. Transcription is not the best but everything else it does is super fast

  • todd

    I was also going to mention the tagline removal option. I did that after about 2 weeks (I actually didn’t know it existed until a couple callers mentioned that “someone was listening to my message”). Though I still do not have it playing, I have noticed that the transcription accuracy has gone down without the reminder to enunciate.

    Also, you mentioned no home screen notification. At least on the version I’m using, the icon for the simulscribe program has a red asterick on it whenever a message is waiting. As long as the program’s icon is within the icons usually visible on the home screen you can see this visual notification.

  • todd

    I was also going to mention the tagline removal option. I did that after about 2 weeks (I actually didn’t know it existed until a couple callers mentioned that “someone was listening to my message”). Though I still do not have it playing, I have noticed that the transcription accuracy has gone down without the reminder to enunciate.

    Also, you mentioned no home screen notification. At least on the version I’m using, the icon for the simulscribe program has a red asterick on it whenever a message is waiting. As long as the program’s icon is within the icons usually visible on the home screen you can see this visual notification.

  • JohnnyM

    I’ve tried Simulsays on my TMobile Pearl for the past 3 months and have had varying degrees of success. The idea behind the product is awesome, however, the application needs to be reinstalled about every two weeks because it loses the connection to the service and it won’t reconnect without a reinstall. So it’s not the most reliable piece of software loaded on the Pearl. I worked with their tech support to try to resolve this on-going issue, but didn’t get it resolved – come to think of it they kind of blew me off after a couple of email exchanges regarding the issue. I finally had to unistall it for good and go back to regular Tmobile voice mail. I’ll wait until a reliable version is released.

  • JohnnyM

    I’ve tried Simulsays on my TMobile Pearl for the past 3 months and have had varying degrees of success. The idea behind the product is awesome, however, the application needs to be reinstalled about every two weeks because it loses the connection to the service and it won’t reconnect without a reinstall. So it’s not the most reliable piece of software loaded on the Pearl. I worked with their tech support to try to resolve this on-going issue, but didn’t get it resolved – come to think of it they kind of blew me off after a couple of email exchanges regarding the issue. I finally had to unistall it for good and go back to regular Tmobile voice mail. I’ll wait until a reliable version is released.

  • http://www.blackberrycool.com/ BlackBerry Cool Simon

    That’s true about the SimulSays icon Todd – I was thinking more about the smaller icons along the top that you get for e-mail and Facebook notifications.

  • http://www.blackberrycool.com/ BlackBerry Cool Simon

    That’s true about the SimulSays icon Todd – I was thinking more about the smaller icons along the top that you get for e-mail and Facebook notifications.

  • http://www.blackberrycool.com BlackBerry Cool Simon

    That’s true about the SimulSays icon Todd – I was thinking more about the smaller icons along the top that you get for e-mail and Facebook notifications.

  • http://www.livingscrapbooks.com Bill Andrews

    I like it but don’t like the fact of only 40 messages per month for $9.95. Eventhough I like SimulScribe better, I went back to CallWave; can’t beat the price.

  • http://www.livingscrapbooks.com/ Bill Andrews

    I like it but don’t like the fact of only 40 messages per month for $9.95. Eventhough I like SimulScribe better, I went back to CallWave; can’t beat the price.

  • http://www.livingscrapbooks.com/ Bill Andrews

    I like it but don’t like the fact of only 40 messages per month for $9.95. Eventhough I like SimulScribe better, I went back to CallWave; can’t beat the price.

  • Knocka

    I have been using Simulscribe for about 6 months. I don’t even bother with Simulsays. One thing not mentioned is that you can also forward your office voice mail (and home) to Simulscribe at no extra charge. That will consolidate all your voicemails in on place. I find that the transcriptions, while not perfect, are good enough that I get the gist of what the caller is trying to tell me. It also allows an easy way to archive important messages, because they are transcribed. It is also great when you are somewhere you cannot use a phone, such as a meeting. You can still read the message.

  • Knocka

    I have been using Simulscribe for about 6 months. I don’t even bother with Simulsays. One thing not mentioned is that you can also forward your office voice mail (and home) to Simulscribe at no extra charge. That will consolidate all your voicemails in on place. I find that the transcriptions, while not perfect, are good enough that I get the gist of what the caller is trying to tell me. It also allows an easy way to archive important messages, because they are transcribed. It is also great when you are somewhere you cannot use a phone, such as a meeting. You can still read the message.

  • caleb

    I have been using simulscribe for over a year now and swear by it. I highly recommend your setup is to have simulscribe send an email to your gmail account. Then setup a filter in bis to make it a level 1 notification so your bb will buzz when a new vm comes in. This allows you to make all your vm messages searchable via gmail! And since it just comes in via the regualr bb mail I can listen to the vm by just opening the attachment.
    Can’t live without it.

  • caleb

    I have been using simulscribe for over a year now and swear by it. I highly recommend your setup is to have simulscribe send an email to your gmail account. Then setup a filter in bis to make it a level 1 notification so your bb will buzz when a new vm comes in. This allows you to make all your vm messages searchable via gmail! And since it just comes in via the regualr bb mail I can listen to the vm by just opening the attachment.
    Can’t live without it.

  • http://small-business-phone.com/?p=6 JB Malik

    I’ve used Callwave for over 2 years now, without a hint of trouble. You can read my review here: http://small-business-phone.com/?p=6

    Recommended Highly!

    -JB Malik
    http://small-business-phone.com/?p=6

  • http://small-business-phone.com/?p=6 JB Malik

    I’ve used Callwave for over 2 years now, without a hint of trouble. You can read my review here: http://small-business-phone.com/?p=6

    Recommended Highly!

    -JB Malik
    http://small-business-phone.com/?p=6

  • David G

    Information Week recently ran a comparison on all the voicemail-to-text services. SimulScribe came out on top with an A grade for transcription quality.

    See below.

    http://www.informationweek.com/news/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=202403399&pgno=6

  • David G

    Information Week recently ran a comparison on all the voicemail-to-text services. SimulScribe came out on top with an A grade for transcription quality.

    See below.

    http://www.informationweek.com/news/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=202403399&pgno=6

  • http://jomiwi.com/ Jon

    Thing is.. Callwave is free. So i’m sticking with it.

  • http://jomiwi.com Jon

    Thing is.. Callwave is free. So i’m sticking with it.

  • Aussie

    Its great PhoneTag has rolled out to Australia !!Been waiting for this for a long time. Voice mail to Text terrific.

  • Aussie

    Its great PhoneTag has rolled out to Australia !!Been waiting for this for a long time. Voice mail to Text terrific.

  • http://www.spinvox.com/ Andrew

    Hi Aussie. I work for SpinVox here in Australia. SpinVox voice to text is available worldwide on any phone and on any network and is also available now in Australia, through Telstra Business – check out http://www.telstra.com.au/business/products/mobiles/services/managemycalls/voice2text.htm

  • http://www.spinvox.com Andrew

    Hi Aussie. I work for SpinVox here in Australia. SpinVox voice to text is available worldwide on any phone and on any network and is also available now in Australia, through Telstra Business – check out http://www.telstra.com.au/business/products/mobiles/services/managemycalls/voice2text.htm

  • http://www.PhoneTag.com/ James Siminoff

    Hey Andrew,

    Does “any phone and on any network” mean just on Telstra Business in Australia? For the record PhoneTag is truly available on all networks in Australia not just Telstra Business. Additionally for those in Australia that have Blackberries we are the only solution which will email you the content of your messages instead of breaking it up into multiple SMS’s.

    Jamie

    James Siminoff, Founder and CEO
    PhoneTag

  • http://www.PhoneTag.com James Siminoff

    Hey Andrew,

    Does “any phone and on any network” mean just on Telstra Business in Australia? For the record PhoneTag is truly available on all networks in Australia not just Telstra Business. Additionally for those in Australia that have Blackberries we are the only solution which will email you the content of your messages instead of breaking it up into multiple SMS’s.

    Jamie

    James Siminoff, Founder and CEO
    PhoneTag

  • Michael

    PhoneTag’s CEO is clearly monitoring this blog and has no love for SpinVox. Regardless, Australia wins by having two competitive companies both offering visual voicemail on the continent and that’s how innovation spreads.

  • Michael

    PhoneTag’s CEO is clearly monitoring this blog and has no love for SpinVox. Regardless, Australia wins by having two competitive companies both offering visual voicemail on the continent and that’s how innovation spreads.

  • http://www.PhoneTag.com/ James Siminoff

    Michael,

    I do monitor the blog like any good CEO should (I think). I have love for Spinvox but I had to point out that in the same post Andrew was saying that Spinvox works anywhere he also correctly stated that it only works on Telstra Business in Australia. I just could not resist:)

    Jamie

  • http://www.PhoneTag.com James Siminoff

    Michael,

    I do monitor the blog like any good CEO should (I think). I have love for Spinvox but I had to point out that in the same post Andrew was saying that Spinvox works anywhere he also correctly stated that it only works on Telstra Business in Australia. I just could not resist:)

    Jamie