There are some times in life when making a phone call just takes too long. As pitiful as that might sound, once you tally up time spent dialing, waiting through ringing, saying hello, small talk, saying good-bye and voicemail introductions, you may be doubling, tripling or quadrupling the time it would take to simply relay what you need to say. While this might be solved with a text message, that can take just as long and isn’t the best method for complex messages.
You might think you’re trapped doing one or the other. Not so with Voxer, the push-to-talk app that transforms your phone into a walkie-talkie, and streamlines your text and picture communications. Is Voxer ready to take us to the next level of quick conversation? Find out after the jump.
Let’s Get Talking
Before diving into this review, one thing should be made clear. Voxer won’t transform your phone into a traditional walkie-talkie — just in case you were expecting the ability to talk and listen in real time. Instead, Voxer records messages and stores them for the recipient. Once that person accesses Voxer on their phone, they can then play the message at their convenience. Another amenity is that there is now a record of audio exchanges, which would otherwise be lost through a traditional back-and-forth walkie-talkie chat.
To record a message, open one of the contacts from your list, which is composed of friends and family from your linked email account and who are registered with Voxer. (Is part of your circle not on Voxer? You can send them an invitation through the app.) Then, press the Hold and Talk button. This will begin recording instantly. Once you remove your thumb from the Hold and Talk button, the message is immediately delivered to its intended recipient.
Keep in mind that messages can’t be screened prior to their being sent. This may encourage a little discretion and aiming for perfection each time you compose a recording.
Listening to messages you have received is a breeze, too, and you can do so by pushing each one’s play icon. The Pac-Man-looking cursor will chomp through the message replay, which you can listen to on speaker phone or up close.
Instead of having to exit Voxer to write a text message, send a picture or share your location, you can accomplish all three within the app. There are icons on each side of the Hold and Talk button. The image of the camera found on the left will get you started in the process of uploading a photo to the conversation. Tap the icon and either choose a photo from your library (your camera roll or photo stream) or you can take a fresh picture to share.
The in-app snaps are only available in Voxer and only immediately after you take and use them, so you may have to find another way to export your Leibovitz-style portraits.
Putting a text together can be done by tapping the pencil icon on the right. Message composition works in much the same way that it does in the iOS text feature. As for adding a location to your recorded, text and picture messages, when registering to use Voxer, make sure you allow it to access that information from your iPhone. Throughout the chain of conversation, you’ll see pins next to messages that can be clicked and will reveal where the sender was when they contributed that part of the conversation.
iOS messaging is rarely complicated when it comes to sending a text to multiple people. One issue that users might encounter, though, is guaranteeing that respondents hit “reply all” to make sure all parts of the conversation get seen by everyone participating in it.
That is not an issue with Voxer. Setting up a group chat streamlines all shares with its members. Even if participants don’t respond right away, they’ll be looped in on all messages — written, spoken and photographed — as well as pictures and location IDs.
Click the icon of a word bubble with a plus sign to start a new chat. Then, add all of the friends you want to be included in the conversation.
The group name defaults to being a list of the first names of all the participants. If that makes you unhappy, you can customize the name during creation to reflect a clique nickname, the purpose of the list or an event everyone in the group may be attending.
Unfortunately, you can’t change the name of the group later, so name wisely. However, if you don’t name wisely, you can simply re-create the group and give it a name, and delete the old one.
What you can also do is add more people to a group at a later date. Simply enter into a message stream and click the list icon that appears in the top-right portion of the screen. This will take you to the chat creation screen that you encountered when creating a group. Tap one of the boxes with a plus sign under Chat Participants to add a new member to this talk.
All Talk or Being Talked About?
Occasionally, messages sound as if small chunks of them are missing. This could be a result of the speaker not properly recording themselves. But otherwise, the audio quality is good enough for what you’ll want to accomplish with Voxer. It also has another weird quirk of adding people you may not know to your address book. To get rid of them, just swipe your thumb over their entry to the right to reveal a delete button. The same can be done for chats you want to clear from your stream.
Now, given that it is free, easy to use and — if you let it — notifies you instantly when you are being responded to, it’s very surprising that Voxer hasn’t entered the mainstream’s lexicon. Voxer can be used for fun and taking group chats beyond texts and pictures. But it also has handy uses such as speaking messages that might be too long or complex for a text message (like your order from Subway) or relaying quick spoken notes to friends without all the phone filler (“Hey, how are you? How are the kids? So, about helping you move this weekend … “)
There’s also another perk: While it is can be used on iOS devices, it is available for Android phones, which means you can communicate with your friends who haven’t (or won’t or haven’t yet) crossed over to Apple products.