In its bid to become your all-in-one communications hub, VoxOx this week announced a new addition to its suite of tools. An upgraded Personal Assistant offers more functions than earlier versions, including new remote access features the company is calling "the most powerful in the industry."
A product of San Diego-based TelCentris, VoxOx delivers universal access to virtually all of ones e-mail, IP telephony, social network, and instant messaging connections. Still in beta, the product is free.
As of July the company was claiming 100,000 downloads. It is no longer releasing user metrics, as it prepares for a full release some time in 2010.
The newly released Personal Assistance tool includes a number of enhancements, according to Chief Technical Officer Kevin Hertz. Most significant are the remote access capabilities, which allow a user to configure a number of Personal Assistant features while on the go.
With remote access its possible to switch ones Personal Assistant voice from male to female, for example. Users also can program their "Find Me/Follow Me" functionality, change their SMS Callback settings, and modify PINs, all from a cell phone. Other settings that now can be adjusted remotely include customizable ringback tones, hold music, voicemail notification, call recording, worldwide call forwarding and inbound caller ID.
"It takes VoxOx off the desk top and allows you to interact with your Personal Assistant away from your computer," Hertz said.
The Personal Assistant function helps users managing their calling and texting. Among other things, the assistant can cut the clutter by enabling the user to screen calls as messages are left, or to "dead end" unwanted calls into a busy signal, a disconnected line or a message prerecorded especially for that individual. The attendant can be configured as part of the installation process and customized at any time.
With the latest enhancements VoxOx hopes to set itself apart from widely recognized Google Voice. Hertz points to a number of featuresringtones, a gendered assistant, hold music, and fax receivingas being available in VoxOx and not in Google.
The latest iteration from VoxOx also includes SMS Callback, a potentially significant money-saver for those traveling overseas, also configurable remotely. Here the possibility of remote configuration is especially significant, since it enables users to change their authorized mobile number while on the move, without having to access their computer or the Internet, thus easing significantly the use of this feature.
SMS Callback allows travelers to avoid overseas calling charges by turning outbound calls into incoming communications. Users can send a text message to VoxOx requesting a call to a U.S. number. VoxOx then calls back the user with what is essentially a free inbound call.
Hertz says the ability to configure such transactions remotely is a significant advance. "Weve gotten huge feedback so far from our international calling community," he said.
Beyond the capability for mobile access, the Personal Assistant is in general highly configurable. For example, the assistant can recognize incoming callers and handle them according to predefined roles: Sparing friends the automatic greeting, for example, or omitting the offer of a fax option to those who never fax.
In a quaint piece of developer humor, a Soundboard function allows a user to toss an occasional WAV files into a call by pushing *5. Right now the feature plays a handful of Arnold Schwarzenegger clips, and further sounds should be forthcoming, Hertz said.
Developers of VoxOx have said they want ease of use to be a top priority, and Hertz points to the latest tricks and tools as a prime example. Some VoxOx capabilities may be available elsewhere, but they typically require the installation of an iPhone app or an Android app, he said.
"There are lots of a lot of people out there who dont have an iPhone yet or dont have an Android phone," Hertz said. "We wanted to make sure they could still access that same functionality."
Hertz is offering no specific date on the release of a full version of VoxOx. "Weve spent a lot more time than we initially thought taking user feedback into account, so thats why it is taking a little longer than we had hoped," he said. "But in the end our customers are going to be a lot happier with the final product."