Feeds

Virgin USA launches new audio services

Fun, but not world changing

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

Virgin USA has launched its Cyclops phone, so called thanks to a lens mounted on the front of the clamshell.

The phone is pretty enough, but its support for two new Virgin services is what's really interesting.

TXT Tones enable the user to change the alert which goes off when they get a text message, while VAM (Virgin Audio Messaging) is a form of push to talk with a store-and-forward capability.

With TXT Tones, for $1.50 a Virgin customer with a Cyclops handset can download an audio clip, licensed through an agreement with Warner Group. This clip can then be played when they receive a text message, and even assigned to particular contacts in the address book so the tone indicates from whom the message originates. This type of functionality is de rigueur for received voice calls, being a standard feature on many Nokia handsets. However, being able to assign tones to text messages is a rare feature.

VAM is a basic push to talk capability, with the user recording an audio clip and sending it to a contact with a compatible handset. In what way this differs from sending an audio message as an MMS isn't clear, but a simplified interface is often all that's needed to encourage use of a service, and it's just a shame Virgin hasn't used the MMS protocol to carry the messages.

Support for both services is promised in future Virgin handsets and, while TXT Tones might be fun, the value of voice messaging is more open to question.

Push to talk has resolutely failed to set the world on fire, despite predictions that it would. European users, and many in the US, were aghast at the idea that their phone would squawk at them without warning. Outside a few vertical markets - ones where the users have little control over their environment - PTT (or PoC as it was forced to become) has seen little market penetration.

Voice messaging should be easier and quicker than SMS, but seems to fail every time. But the US is a strange market, so we'll watch with interest to see if US youth decide that words speak louder than txt. ®

Security for virtualized datacentres

More from The Register

next story
Brit telcos warn Scots that voting Yes could lead to HEFTY bills
BT and Co: Independence vote likely to mean 'increased costs'
Phones 4u slips into administration after EE cuts ties with Brit mobe retailer
More than 5,500 jobs could be axed if rescue mission fails
New 'Cosmos' browser surfs the net by TXT alone
No data plan? No WiFi? No worries ... except sluggish download speed
Radio hams can encrypt, in emergencies, says Ofcom
Consultation promises new spectrum and hints at relaxed licence conditions
Google+ GOING, GOING ... ? Newbie Gmailers no longer forced into mandatory ID slurp
Mountain View distances itself from lame 'network thingy'
Vodafone to buy 140 Phones 4u stores from stricken retailer
887 jobs 'preserved' in the process, says administrator PwC
Bonking with Apple has POUNDED mobe operators' wallets
... into submission. Weve squeals, ditches payment plans
Drag queens: Oh, don't be so bitchy, Facebook! Let us use our stage names
Handbags at dawn over free content ad network's ID policy
Comcast exec: No, we haven't banned Tor. I use it. You're probably using it
Keep in mind if, say, your Onion browser craps out on Xfinity
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.