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Premium Visual Voice Mail on S21 Ultra only transcribes 15 seconds of voice message
DSperber
Member

I've had the Premium Visual Voice Mail add-on essentially forever, ever since leaving Sprint for Verizon back in 2009 when I bought my Galaxy S4. I've continued to pay for it when upgrading to my S7, and then my S10, and now my S21 Ultra.

In particular I enjoy the transcription of voice-to-text, which is remarkably accurately done by Google Voice. Getting up to a 45 second frontend of the [possibly longer] voice message and never having to actually retrieve the voice mail itself even if I want to play it instead of read it, well this is just a perfect feature. Glad to pay for it.

Except that it now works differently on the S21 Ultra than it has on all other phones before it. And it now STINKS! So unless I'm missing something, and there is some secret way to make it work like it used to, I'm contemplating canceling it after 11 years of using it. It's now just that bad and useless and annoying.

Has anybody else notice this? Is it something truly new on the S21 Ultra, or has it always worked this way on phones/tablets with large screens?

The problem is this. Previously when launching the Voicemail app what I call "Page 1" would appear, displaying the list of all voice messages. There was maybe 2 lines per call, showing the caller id or caller's name (from my Contacts) or phone number, date/time of call, message duration, etc. At 2 lines per call the list could show maybe 12-15 calls per page as I recall.

Then you'd tap on one of those calls listed, and Page 1 would disappear and what I call "Page 2" would appear.  At the top of the page you had the same general title and call identification information (perhaps a bit more? can't remember now). Then about 2/3 of the screen was taken up with the actual maybe 15 lines maximum of transcribed message text. This was about how many lines were needed for a typical 45 seconds of spoken words at a normal speed. So the transcription limit was about either 45 seconds or about 15 lines of text. And the font size of the text was nice and large and easily read.

In the bottom 1/3 of the screen there were two rows of action buttons and controls, and the message timer (which would progress if you actually pressed the PLAY button to hear the actual voice message). There was a SPEAKER button, a PLAY button, a PHONE button (to return the call), etc. Nice large buttons that were easy to tap with your fingers. Well spaced.

And that was Page 2. A complete screen fully dedicated to the presentation of text etc. for the one call voice message.  When you were done you either deleted the message (using the TRASH button) and were automatically returned to Page 1 to see the message list again, or you pressed BACK to simply return to Page 1.

That's how it always has worked. No longer.

Now, they've expanded the 1-2 line message list size for each call's item. It's now each call item is about 4-5 lines tall, and contains additional information, a larger picture/avatar for the caller (if present in your Contacts), the first line of transcribed text, etc.  Actually it's probably a visually improved presentation from the bland way it used to look. 

Yes, the increased "height" of each call's item entry in the list now means there are only perhaps 5 calls per page instead of 12 calls per page. But they really are useful and informative in their new larger presentation. So on this part of the change I can't complain. I think they've done a good thing and I react positively.

It is what happens next that is the real horror story. When you tap on a call entry item on Page 1's message list, THERE IS NO LONGER A PAGE 2 PRESENTED FOR THAT MESSAGE!!!

Instead, the initial 4-5 line call entry on Page 1 now simply EXPANDS into a bigger area that is perhaps 1/2 the screen size in height. All call items below the now expanded item are "pushed down" on the screen (with the bottom 1 or 2 pushed off the screen temporarily, to make room for the now enlarged 1/2 screen tall expanded call item).

And instead of 45 seconds max of transcribed voice message to up to 15 lines of text, there is only 5 lines of text shown representing perhaps 15 seconds max! And the font size of the characters in these 5 lines is almost microscopic! You have to move your head close to the phone in order to read the text in those 5 lines.  Just ridiculous!

Now there doesn't appear to be any way to "drill down deeper" to perhaps present the true Page 2 with the full 45 seconds of transcribed text in 15 lines of large font size characters as there used to be. It seems they have simply done away with Page 2 entirely!!

So unless I'm missing something in terms of somehow getting to Page 2, I would say there is no longer a Page 2 at all!  And the "expanded call item on Page 1" presentation is only 5 lines of text in a very tiny font size, providing only maybe 15 seconds of transcribed words from the voice message itself.  This is absolutely criminal, as it no longer delivers the advertised product functionality as described in the marketing writeup.

And to make it just even worse, the two rows of large well spaced control buttons that used to appear in the bottom 1/3 of Page 2 previously, well they're compressed into little miniature buttons again in two rows at the bottom of that expanded item area which now happens on Page 1 when you tap on the item in the message list.

That new expanded area on Page 1 when tapping on a message list item if just too small. Even at 1/2 the screen size it only contains 5 lines of text, with miniature font size and with miniature control buttons at the bottom of the area.  Just terrible and not user-friendly.

Who could possibly have designed this and thought it was good? What was wrong with what used to be for the past 11 years? What's wrong with a Page 1 and Page 2, with Page 2 taking the entire screen and fully dedicated to everything about one single voice message. And 15 lines of large readable text, with 45 seconds worth of transcription.

Why would they do this and think this is good?

Anybody else bothered like I am? Or did I simply miss any new instructions on how to do some customization that will somehow make it all better again?

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Re: Premium Visual Voice Mail on S21 Ultra only transcribes 15 seconds of voice message
DSperber
Member

Forgot to mention that the software version for Voicemail is 13.0.00.19. This may be the Samsung Voicemail software product.

But the Premium Visual Voice Mail add-on is pure Verizon, not Samsung. I don't know what the objective software difference is between the functionality applicable to the S10 which worked as (a) a Page 1 to show 12 items and Page 2 with single selected item in full-screen, vs. (b) the new S21 version which works simply through a Page 1 - collapsed to show items, and then Page 1 - selected-item-expanded to 1/2 screen size.

 

Re: Premium Visual Voice Mail on S21 Ultra only transcribes 15 seconds of voice message
DSperber
Member

Here is what Page 1 - collapsed looks like:

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And here is Page 1 - expanded (on first call item entry):

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Re: Premium Visual Voice Mail on S21 Ultra only transcribes 15 seconds of voice message
DSperber
Member

Got to talk with a 2nd-level tech at Verizon. He believes the new version of Premium Visual Voice Mail software on the phone is from Samsung. It has a green background icon.

A bit of research revealed that the previous version was from Motorola Mobility, and had a red background icon.

Unfortunately that older Motorola version isn't installable through the Google Play Store. Says it's incompatible with my phone. While I might be able to perhaps find the APK for that Motorola version, I don't think it would be usable on my S21.

I just gave two separate 3rd-party so-called Visual Voice Mail apps a try: Voxist (wouldn't complete the install which required that I accept Permissions except that the screen had frozen), and YouMail (which only transcribed the first few seconds of the voice message, and also had a text-overlay garbage GUI issue). So both of those are out.

I might try YouMail. Really, all I want is my old Motorola Mobility version back.

What a shame.

Incidentally, turns out the current Verizon (i.e. Samsung) Premium Visible Voicemail is actually transcribing as much as can be presented IN FIVE TEXT LINES. This will probably be about 45 seconds but it will vary.

What's important is that if you have the phone in portrait mode then five text lines is not very wide and the words shown on the five lines will represent about 15 seconds of the voice message. In contrast, if you hold the phone in landscape mode then those five text lines are very wide. And you can get certainly 45 seconds (or more) presented completely.

So my original thought that the transcription was being limited to 15 seconds is false. It is however many words it takes to fill five text lines or less, which is the governing factor as to how much of the voice message will get transcribed. Five lines tops, however wide those lines are... that's how much you can read in words.

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Re: Premium Visual Voice Mail on S21 Ultra only transcribes 15 seconds of voice message
DSperber
Member

But even if it's five lines in landscape mode, yielding 45+ seconds of transcribed voice message to text, it's still microscopically small font size making it VERY VERY difficult to actually read those five lines.

Re: Premium Visual Voice Mail on S21 Ultra only transcribes 15 seconds of voice message
DSperber
Member

So the story now has a happy ending:  I HAVE CANCELED VERIZON PREMIUM VISUAL VOICE MAIL ADD-ON, thus saving $2.99/month.

And I have downgraded to the Basic Visual Voice Mail which is FREE, just so as to be able to have something to fall back to if I become dissatisfied with my TRUE SOLUTION... which is to install Google Voice (which is also FREE).

For the time being I have installed Google Voice just to be my 3rd-party Visual Voice Mail app on my S21, to replace both Verizon's Voice Mail service as well as Verizon's Premium Visual Voice Mail Add-on. Of course Google Voice also supports land lines as an "answering system" with sophisticated call handling and forwarding, but I'm not using any of that just now (if ever). I'm only using it as a total replacement of Verizon's Voice Mail package on my S21.

Creation of my Google Voice account was simple and picking a Google Voice phone number was simple (this genuine phone number can be used to make/receive calls if you want, but I'm not doing that, preferring to simply continue to use my existing Verizon Wireless cell phone number that everybody I know already has).

So the Google Voice phone number is simply for me a "technical object" that's a required part of the service, and which is the target of "conditional call forwarding" (i.e. *71nnnnnnnnnn) that allows Google to perform Voice Mail services when calls to my Verizon phone number go unanswered.  That's when "conditional call forwarding" kicks in, forwarding the call to my Google Voice number ("in the sky") where my Google Voice new custom outgoing message gets played and the caller's voice message gets recorded.

The newly installed Google Voice app on the S21 thus is a complete and total replacement for the standard new "green" Verizon Voicemail app (v 13.0.00.19) that came with the S21. And just as the Verizon app pops up a "badge" when one or more newly arrived unviewed voice messages arrive, the exact same functionality occurs with the Google Voice app. Also a badge with a number in it.

I had posted earlier in this thread a screenshot of what the opening "landing page" presentation (i.e. Page 1 in my old red Motorola Voicemail app jargon) of the new green Verizon Voicemail app displays. Prettier, as I admitted.  Here is what the Google Voice "landing page" (i.e. voice message list) looks like when the app is launched:

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Short, sweet, 2-lines per call with exactly as much shown as one could really hope for on this message list. Most importantly and immediately apparent... IT IS HIGHLY READABLE because it is using LARGE FONT SIZE, i.e. the phone's system font.  So actually if I were to adjust the system-wide Settings -> Display -> Font size to be larger, it would affect the appearance of these message list items.

Then, if I tap on an individual message list item, in a manner identical to how the new Verizon Premium Visual Voice Mail (programmed by Samsung) now works, the item EXPANDS IN PLACE (pushing all lower items in the message list down, potentially off-screen).

But unlike how the Verizon/Samsung expanded item design works BADLY, the Google Voice design actually works PERFECTLY AS BEST AS YOU COULD DREAM OF:

(a) The ENTIRE voice message is transcribed to text, no matter how long. Not limted to 5 lines of text.

Now to be honest I don't know if this is really true or maybe there is actually some practical maximum like 45 seconds or 1 minute or who knows what that I just haven't seen yet. But so far in my testing it doesn't seem to have a limit to what the length of the voice message is in terms of possibly truncating the transcription to text. It appears to transcribe 100% of the message.

(b) The font size is once again PERFECTLY READABLE, i.e. it is the phone's system font. So once again if I would like to have this text be larger I could adjust the phone's global system font size and it would affect the appearance of this transcribed text.

But honestly I'm perfectly satisfied with how it looks right now, with default phone system font size (i.e. I have NOT made my phone's system font size larger than was delivered). Completely and totally readable. Looks like this:

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(c) Once again, everything that was on the Verizon Voicemail app's presentation (both the current Samsung-version as well as on the older Motorola-version) is here on the Google Voice app's presentation. I can play it, I can respond to it either with a phone call or a text message, I can go to my Contacts list, I can open the phone keyboard to make an arbitrary call, etc.

So that's it! I now use Google Voice as my "voicemail" app on the S21, totally eliminating and replacing my use of Verizon Voicemail services, apps, add-ons, etc. And to boot it's free, not $2.99/month.

I am not making use of Google Voice's "notifications" functionality, which could also send emails to me when voice messages are left. And the transcribed voice message would also be presented fully in that email, along with the ability to "play" it audibly if I wanted to hear it as well. Unfortunately this "PLAY" feature utilizes a download of an MP3 file (to your DOWNLOADS folder, which then must be manually deleted by you if you don't want to keep it). There's no direct play-from-the-sky ability through the email, without going through a very inconvenient navigation through an active URL in the email that takes you to your online Google Voice account page where you can now find and play your recorded voice messages.

Anyway I have no need for getting emails to tell me I have a voice message on my phone. The Voice app which actually is on the phone's desktop (replacing the Verizon red Voicemail app) is all I actually need or ever wanted in the first place!!  And now that it actually is "working properly" instead of NOT WORKING PROPERLY as the Verizon/Samsung implementation did, I'm 100% satisfied. No need for extraneous emails that provide no value or benefit to me.

 

So, I think the case is closed.

I have emerged victorious.

Google Voice is to be highly recommended as a perfect and simple solution for a fundamental cell phone Voice Mail product that does everything a Voice Mail product should. Not to mention its additional other functions and features which I currently have not taken advantage of, which make it usable for home land line answering system and sophisticated "switchboard". 

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Re: Premium Visual Voice Mail on S21 Ultra only transcribes 15 seconds of voice message
vzw_customer_support
Customer Support

DSperber, the screenshot you sent is appreciated. Please share with are you connected to Wi-Fi when this happens? Also, confirm for me what happens when you reset the Visual Voicemail app? This is located in settings>apps>voicemail app>force stop. 

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Re: Premium Visual Voice Mail on S21 Ultra only transcribes 15 seconds of voice message
DSperber
Member

I'm not sure what you're really asking. The latest v13.0 of the Verizon-provided (green) Voicemail app (now authored by Samsung) simply works differently than the previous RED version 12.0 (or 11.0?) app which was authored by Motorola Mobility) does. It's that simple. I no longer have my S10 so I can't provide a screenshot of how that Motorola version of the Voicemail app used to actually look.

But it doesn't matter whether I'm WiFi-connected or not. Doesn't matter if it's force-stop and then restarted or not. It won't make the output produced any different. The Voicemail app works the way it works, because that's how it was redesigned to work. That's how it's now programmed by Samsung... actually to emulate how the Google Voice app works (i.e. only one page showing either compressed or expanded voice message entries, as opposed to the old Page 1 / Page 2 approach of how the older Motorola app used to work).

There is no longer a "Page 1" and "Page 2" as there used to be with the red Motorola app. With that user-interface design you tapped on a short 2-line message list item appearing on Page 1, and that resulted in a new Page 2 presentation showing the completely transcribed text (up to 45 seconds or about 15 lines) in large font, with big control buttons in the bottom part of the screen. When you were done you would press BACK on Page 2 and that would return you to the Page 1 message list. That's how it used to work.

And now the green Voicemail (from Verizon/Samsung) just works essentially the same way the Google Voice app works. There is no longer a "Page 2" when you tap on a message list item. It now simply expands into a somewhat larger display of the voice message entry. There are now no more than 5 lines of microscopic text font for the transcribed English (which reflects no more than 15 seconds of voice message if the phone is held portrait mode, and no more than 45 seconds of voice message if the phone is held landscape mode). That 5 line limit for text is hard, so it truncates the portrait-mode or landscape-mode English text transcription right there, no matter how long the actual voice message was that it was transcribing.

Also, the expanded area is limited to a maximum total "height" of about 1/2 screen size. This only allows for 5 microscopic text lines, and some extremely tiny control buttons at the bottom of the area for SPEAKER and PLAY, etc. They're just very very tiny buttons, especially compared to the corresponding LARGE button size that used to appear on the bottom of Page 2 with the Motorola app.

That's the bottom line really. It's no longer the Motorola Mobility Visual Voicemail app. It's now a Samsung-implemented copy of the Google Voice app, badly copied.

(1) It's unreadable because of microscopic text instead of using the larger clearer phone system-wide font and size. Google Voice app uses the larger phone system font.

(2) It only shows 5 lines of text maximum (however long 5 lines is in either portrait or landscape) in the transcribed English text from the voice message, even if that is far short of the 45 seconds advertised. Google Voice transcribes THE ENTIRE VOICE MESSAGE (or certainly at least 45 seconds of it no matter what), and so is NOT limited to just 5 lines of text. As many text lines as it takes to present the entire voice message, that's how long the expanded area is and all lines of text for the complete voice message are displayed.

(3) the control buttons for PLAY, SPEAKER, TRASH, etc., are now also microscopically small, instead of large and easy to touch. Google Voice has much larger easy-to-see and easy-to-touch buttons.

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Re: Premium Visual Voice Mail on S21 Ultra only transcribes 15 seconds of voice message
DSperber
Member

One more problem with the new Verizon/Samsung Voicemail app that I haven't mentioned before, but as I was re-reading my posts I saw my unintended omission.

In the "expanded" view of a voice message item in the list which has been tapped on to drill down into it, the tiny playback control buttons of SPEAKER and PLAY and TRASH have already been described as "tiny". But what I forgot to mention is that the SPEAKER button is grayed-out and cannot actually be tapped on (to enable speaker mode) until the message is actually playing.

In other words, you first MUST press PLAY to begin playback through the earpiece of the phone. And only then does the SPEAKER button become un-grayed, so that you can now tap it to toggle audio playback to come from either the speaker of the phone or through the earpiece.

This is an annoying design flaw, because once you start playback and only then get to tap on the SPEAKER button, you've now potentially lost hearing the first few seconds of the recorded message.

In contrast, the Google Voice app presents its own SPEAKER button un-grayed (but still tappable) to begin with, as its very initial state when it appears. So you can tap on it BEFORE tapping on the PLAY button, to indicate you want to hear playback through the phone speaker right away. And that means when you then tap on the PLAY button you will hear all 100% of the voice recorded message, and you don't lose hearing the first few seconds out loud through the speaker as you must with the Verizon/Samsung app because of its flawed design.

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Re: Premium Visual Voice Mail on S21 Ultra only transcribes 15 seconds of voice message
hogated
Member

I added Google Voice to my unlocked S21+ 5G tonight and I now have visual voicemail again. Thanks for the info. 

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