By Harry McCracken | Tuesday, November 3, 2009 at 1:29 pm
Like Google Voice, Ribbit Mobile is a sort of virtual receptionist: It can ring multiple phones at once, gives you Web-based access to voicemail, and can transcribe messages into text and alert you via e-mail or SMS. But Ribbit works with the phone number you already have (Google Voice recently introduced a no-new-number option, but it’s missing lots of features).
Other stuff that’s interesting about Ribbit Mobile: It has a “Caller ID 2.0” feature that integrates your address book with feeds from sources like Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn in order to show you stuff about the people who have called you. It provides embeddable widgets that let people call you from within blogs, Facebook, and other sites. It lets you opt for premium services from third-party companies (such as those who do voicemail transcription with humans, not just machines). And unlike Google Voice, it’s an open platform, so other companies may build apps and services that connect to it and incorporate its features.
Here’s a peek at Ribbit Mobile’s Web-based interface:
Oh, and Ribbit has written a Ribbit Mobile iPhone app that it thinks Apple won’t have any problem with approving for the App Store–it does its dialing via the iPhone’s standard phone interface, rather than replacing it.
Ribbit Mobile will come in a free version, plus fee-based ones at $10 and $20 a month, with extra features; at the moment, everything’s in a free beta test period, but you have to get in a queue and wait until Ribbit approves you. (The company told me it’s working its way through the RSVP list quickly.) The fees will kick in when the service leaves beta, which Ribbit told me should happen early next year.
So how’s the service? Well, I don’t know yet-I have an invite, but when I try to connect my cell phone number to Ribbit Mobile, I’m getting an error message. (Hey, that’s what beta testing is for.) I’ll keep trying–and if you get into Ribbit Mobile, let us know what you think.