FREE International Voicemail for iPhone
There’s a lot of controversy going on about the iPhone 3G, one of which I bought very recently. One thing a lot of people take issue with is AT&T’s pricey roaming charges in foreign lands, that is if you purchased your phone in the United States. If you don’t travel enough (or receive enough phone calls while traveling) to justify spending the extra dough on an International Plan, you can work around it with two services – Youmail and Truphone.
Youmail is a great free service that replaces your existing voicemail with internet based voicemail. You can be notified that you have a new voicemail message either by SMS text message or by email. Unless you want to pay the $0.50 charge per text, you’re going to want to choose to receive email alerts. From the email you receive, you’ll be directed to your Youmail page on Safari. You’ll then be able to listen to your voicemail from the Youmail page over the internet. Yes, you’ll be LISTENING. This service does not transcribe your voicemail to text.
If you have the iPhone, obviously you have AT&T. You can sign up for an account with Youmail and choose the iPhone as your phone type. You’ll then need to save the following two numbers exactly (including # and *) as contacts in your phone. These are the numbers provided by Youmail to enable and disable routing your voice messages to the Youmail service.
- *004*17142043114# (this enables Youmail)
- ##004# (this disables Youmail)
So, you visit the Youmail website and set up your account following the prompts. You save the numbers above as contacts. To enable Youmail, call the number listed above. Your voicemail will then be directed to your Youmail account. You will not receive the voicemail on your phone or through AT&T. When you get back to the U.S., you call the second number to disable the Youmail account and return to the standard AT&T voicemail. (That is assuming you prefer your standard voicemail while at home)
While overseas, you’ll have to disable the 3G network, data and calls so that you won’t incur charges. My understanding is that the easiest way to go about this is to activate the Airplane Mode under settings, then enable Wi-Fi (also under Settings). This disables all data and calling activity for your phone except Wi-Fi, provided your firmware is at least 2.0*. Why is this important? Because you CAN use Wi-Fi without incurring charges by AT&T. So this will allow you to check your mail, receive your voicemail (via email) and surf the web with your iPhone.
That takes care of the receiving end of things, now we need to work on MAKING calls. The calling feature is also dependent on Wi-Fi. There is a VoIP service called TruPhone you can download from the App store. This will allow you to make outgoing VoIP calls (like Skype or Vonage) from your iPhone. This part isn’t free, but it’s pretty inexpensive.
*It is my understanding that with the 2.0 upgrade, Apple added the ability to enable Wi-Fi in airplane mode because some airlines now offer Wi-Fi capability. I tried it out, and Wi-Fi does work in Airplane Mode with 2.1.
Finally, if you’re an iPhone 3G user and having HUGE issues with calls being dropped, do something about it. I’ve been in contact with both AT&T and Apple about the situation with my phone. If people don’t speak up, the problem isn’t going to be fixed. Stop bitching on message boards and get in contact with the company so we can get this thing working.