While it’s not uncommon for people to only have a cellphone rather than a “landline” telephone today, there’s still many (like me) who find that those “old-school” telephone devices can be more reliable (especially during a power outage) and have better call quality than even the smartest of smartphones.
But there’s one problem everyone who has both a smartphone and a landline phone must deal with: When away from my home or office, especially for an extended period of time while traveling, how can one best learn whether calls have been made to the landline and, more importantly, if any of the callers left a voicemail message?
The answer, of course, is “There’s an app for that!”
Actually, there are at least two apps to help you track your landline calls and voicemail messages.
Comcast’s XFINITY Connect App
When our DSL Internet service became snail-slow and frequently out-of-service, my wife and I looked for a better option for connecting to the World Wide Web.
We already had “Basic” (i.e., very few channels) cable TV service from Comcast, which offered us a package that included a more extensive channel line-up, much faster cable Internet service, and a phone line that would replace (without having to change the phone number) my AT&T business landline. The rate was less than what we were paying for the same services from three different companies, so we made the switch.
To make best use of my Comcast XFINITY Voice (landline telephone service), I installed the free XFINITY Connect app on my iPhone and iPad. It’s also available for Android devices.
When a call comes in on my Comcast landline, I get a notification on my iPhone. If a voicemail message is left, I get another notification on my iPhone (as well as via e-mail to my Comcast e-mail address and a pop-up notice on my iMac desktop computer.) The app can be set to alert you with a sound as well as a pop-up notification, although I couldn’t get the sound alert to work.
On my iPhone I can open the XFINITY Connect app and playback the voicemail, mark it “As Heard,” delete it, send a text message back to the caller (which only will work if the call came in from a cellphone with text messaging capability), or forward it (as an audio .wav file) to someone via e-mail.
The XFINITY Voice system also attempts to transcribe the voicemail message into a readable text message. Sometimes it succeeds, sometimes it doesn’t.
The benefit of the smartphone app are: 1) I get very prompt notification of calls to and messages left on my landline number; 2) I don’t have to wait until returning to my home office to listen to the messages on my desk telephone; 3) I don’t have to phone into Comcast’s voice system to retrieve and respond to messages.
You won’t receive a notice of a missed call if the caller hung up before your landline voicemail greeting stopped playing. But there is a call log showing all recent incoming calls.
The app also notifies me of e-mail sent to my Comcast e-mail address, accesses the Contacts list on my iPhone, and lets me send e-mail and make phone calls (which comes from my Comcast landline number, not my iPhone’s phone number) and text messages to those on that Contacts list.
AT&T Voicemail Viewer (Home) App
As a retiree from what was once known simply as “The Phone Company,” my wife is entitled to a single residential landline for a very nominal monthly charge (not including long-distance calls). So in addition to our Comcast landline, we have one from AT&T.
AT&T has a free “AT&T Voicemail Viewer (Home)” app for iPhones which gives its residential landline customers the ability to be notified of calls and voicemails much in the way that Comcast does for its landline users. (There’s a similar app for those with Android devices.)
In addition to a pop-up notification on your iPhone, the AT&T app will give at sound alert at least twice when a voicemail message has been left on your AT&T landline. As with the Comcast XFINITY Connect app, you won’t receive a notice of a missed call if the caller hung up before your landline voicemail greeting stopped playing. However, there is no call log for this app.
The AT&T iPhone app lets you listen to the voicemail, read a transcribed version, forward the voicemail by e-mail, return the call (which unlike the XFINITY app, will be from your cellphone number rather than your AT&T landline number), although not respond by text message. You can do all of these functions (except returning phone calls) from an iPod or an iPad (although as I recently explained, you can use your iPad as an “extension phone” and make and receive calls on it via a WiFi connection to your iPhone).
If you wish (and I’ve chosen not to do so thus far), you can turn the app’s inbox into one for both voicemail and e-mail.
From within the AT&T Voicemail Viewer (Home) app, you can access your iPhone’s Contacts list and make voice and Facetime calls, and send text messages.
Other Phone Service Providers
If have landline service, but not from either Comcast nor AT&T, check with your carrier to see if they have a similar voicemail app for your mobile device.