YouMail gets real with a BlackBerry app

The freemium visual voicemail provider YouMail fills in its biggest hole--viewing messages online, but not on the phone.

YouMail inbox on BlackBerry Bold
Zeroing in on that important missed call is YouMail\'s number-one feature. (Credit: YouMail)

Since its inception, YouMail, a visual voicemail service for mobile phones, has had one big problem. You could view and play your mobile phone's voicemail messages online, or--beginning lat June--by pointing the mobile browser to, but messages weren't stored on the device itself.

Starting Wednesday, YouMail has begun to change that with a native YouMail in-box for BlackBerry phones. Visual Voicemail Plus is a free downloadable app that stores your incoming voice messages along with the caller's name, number, and time of call.

In addition to viewing and playing messages in any order you'd like, those who have signed up for the free or premium transcription service will be able to read the message content.

Other online features have carried over as well, including interacting with the voice files by downloading, saving, and forwarding them, or posting them to social networks.

The latter has always been the creepiest application, and in my opinion, a misguided attempt to tap into social networking trends. It's true that replaying calls for amusement, blackmail, or punitive action has been a common fate of cell phone messages for much longer than actor Alec Baldwin's damning outburst back in 2007, but why make it so easy to push a private call to the public domain? Let's just hope I'm the only Debbie Downer here envisioning embarrassing abuses of an innocent call.

But back to the app at hand.

Transcription on YouMail BlackBerry app
YouMail's free and prmeium transcription services carry over to the mobile in-box. (Credit: YouMail)

While I'll certainly be the first to welcome this native app with open arms, I will point out that it's a bit basic in the design department. We're sure to see more style come to the download in future releases.

The opening of YouMail's API, now in limited beta, means we're sure to see a proliferation of development, including YouMail's porting to other mobile platforms, and to other apps and widgets as a plug-in.

For now YouMail's Visual Voicemail Plus application will work on the BlackBerry Pearl, Curve, Bold, and Storm running version 4.3 or higher of the operating system, and only if you're with Verizon, AT&T, or T-Mobile carriers. New users can sign up for a free account from the Visual Voicemail Plus interface or online.

About Jessica Dolcourt

Jessica Dolcourt reviews smartphones and cell phones, covers handset news, and pens the monthly column Smartphones Unlocked. A senior editor, she started at CNET in 2006 and spent four years reviewing mobile and desktop software before taking on devices.