Technology Tuesday: A Few Cool Phone Services

This week, we’ll check out three phone services that are pretty useful that can help you out in a variety of situations.

First off, before we even get into these three, I’d be remiss to write a post on phone services without mentioning the Grand Daddy of them all: Google Voice. A slew of enhancements and bug fixes this year have improved this phenomenal and free service. If you haven’t checked out Google Voice yet, what are you waiting for? With dirt cheap international calls, free texting, voice mail transcription, a number that you can keep for life and easily bounce between carriers, individualized greetings per caller or group, do not disturb, widgets for web calling, caller blacklisting and scores of other features, it is almost too good to be true.

Anyways, without further ado:

Slydial: Sometimes, you just want to leave a message without talking to the call recipient. Sure, this could be used for nefarious purposes. “So sorry I missed you honey, heading out with the fellas, be home late” (….easier to ask for forgiveness than permission!) Yet other times, you may simply want to leave a short message without any banter, perhaps in a business situation. Enter Slydial.

Dial the Slydial access number – (267) SLY-DIAL. Enter the cell phone number you wish to call and PRESTO! You are connected to their voice mail. Leave your message. Done deal.

The recipient’s phone does NOT ring BUT your call does appear on their list of missed calls and your message is left. How cool is that?

You do listen to an ad, but other than that this is a free service. Limitation is that it only works for cell numbers. No registration is required for the free service. Simply call and use. There are additional features such as premium access with no ads and mobile apps to make calling even quicker if you care to register or become a paid user.

Spoof App: There’s quite a few “spoofing” apps out there, but Spoof App is still the best. It allows you to call anybody, and have any phone number appear as the Caller-ID. Imagine the power of this: Call a co-worker and have the boss’ number show up. Call the loud partying neighbor and have the local Police Department’s number show up. Of course, with most caller-id systems now, you not only get the number: you get the name too. So it is not important that the neighbor recognize (781) 328-1212…they will see: “Police Department” on their Caller ID. Likewise, the number that you “spoof” will also be the number that appears on the recipient’s cell phone bill or online call records.

There’s really scores of uses for this only limited by your imagination: both for fun and devious reasons. It is completely legal (for now) and relatively cheap. This app offers additional features like voice changing and call recording, but the real star of the show is the Caller ID spoofing.

Apps are available for all major mobile platforms and calls are priced per minute. Check out SpoofApp website to purchase minutes.

ProTip: If your cell carrier makes it optional to use a PIN code to access your voice-mail number: Make sure you use this! This is the way the creeps at Rupert Murdoch’s papers hacked the voice mail of royals, celebrities & grieving families. They simply called the voice mail access number of the carrier with the target’s number as the Caller ID: If a PIN wasn’t required, they were instantly given access to voice mail system.

TrapCall: Getting calls from “Private” numbers? Want to know who is calling? Use TrapCall!

Sadly, this used to be free but it is now on a month-to-month subscription plan with the cheapest plan being about $5 per month. Fortunately, no long term commitment needed, just enable it when you need it.

Perhaps you are getting harassing calls or other annoying calls repeatedly to you phone and would like to know exactly who is on the other end even though they marked their call as “Private” or otherwise hid their caller-id. TrapCall tells you know exactly who is calling: instantly. It works because users of Toll Free 800 numbers are afforded the luxury of knowing exactly who is calling and you can’t block your call to these numbers. So some “conditional call forwarding” is enabled through your phone with a few keystrokes (directions provided when signing up) so that when “Hidden” or “Private” numbers arrive on your phone you simply reject them. Your conditional forwarding takes over and sends this call not to your voice mail but to TrapCall’s service center with an 800 number. TrapCall instantly unmasks the number and forwards it back to you with the caller id displayed. The user on the other end hears continuous ringing and has no idea what has happened.

Now, you have the luxury of answering knowing full well who is on the other line and their number if you want to call back. In the case of a telemarketer or bill collector, you can obviously now reject the call and send to voice mail as per usual.

TrapCall is fantastic in many situations and can really help you out in some instances where it is critical to know who is calling. It works for both landlines and cell phones and does its job seamlessly and perfectly. However, there are calls where it still will not identify the caller if they are using a VoIP line such as free GMail calling or Skype call out. Other than that, it works like a champ.

Like I say though, this one comes at a premium and you need to decide if it is worth $60/year for the ability to unblock calls or if you have a situation that arises and you simply want to use the service for a one-time fee (full month). For me, I am lucky as I can expense it as a needed business tool.


How about you?  Use any cool phone services to make your life easier?  Used any of the ones mentioned here or have a creative use? Please let us know in the comments.

Now go out and get your gadget shopping done for Christmas!


Hidden Track Technology Tuesday
email: [email protected]
voice-mail:  (781) 285-8696

Have an idea for an article? Product, app, or web service you are passionate about? Feel free to get in touch with me.

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