Hackernoon logoThe Future of the Telephone Call by@avrahamraskin

The Future of the Telephone Call

Avraham Raskin Hacker Noon profile picture

@avrahamraskinAvraham Raskin

Founder

What can the future be holding on the other line?

Throughout the day our phones are constantly ringing, ringing with text messages, FaceTime, voice notes, Facebook messengers, and snapchats, ringing with anything but an incoming call. We call it the phone and it originally began as that, just a calling device, we say its main purpose is to call, but the phone call is now just one app on our screens, one app among so many others.

A nice amount of them are apps trying to work around this old system. We now have text messaging, voicemails for when you can’t answer the phone, visual voicemails so you can hear those voicemails whenever you want without having to dial in your number, voice notes for when you don’t want to have an actual conversation but you have too much to say over text, FaceTime/Skype/Hangouts to add in video into the call, and a bunch more.

Communication nowadays is not about the person anymore, it’s about the app you use.

Now, I’m not advocating getting rid of any of these apps, they are interesting, some have their place and most will morph into new technologies going forward.

However, this article is not about what that might look like, although that is definitely a fun topic (hint: I think this will involve holograms), rather we are going to focus on just the phone call and the ways we can improve on this specific medium.

I think it’s time for a change, for the simple, old fashioned, classic communication tool to become something advanced, modernised, and better. What can the future be holding on the other line?

Oh, and this is going to involve changing the voicemails, because you know, they absolutely suck.

Brief intro of the phone call

It used to be back in the day when you would get a phone call you would hear a sound to alert you where getting a call, and you would have until the phone stopped ringing to pick up and answer.

As soon as we added in screens to our devices we built the CallerID so we could see who was calling before we actually had to pick up the phone.

So nowadays we hear the ringtone, we pull our phones out of our pockets, check who’s calling and choose to then answer or ignore. We see this among most of our notifications; we hear an audio sound to alert us to specific notifications and then check the screen for the actual information.

The Missed Call

So now we are screening our calls and choosing whether to answer them or not, but we still want to know what happened, what was the reason of the call in the first place, and what happened if we missed the call altogether. There is a mythical place that handles these unwanted calls, the voicemail.

We all know the feeling of calling someone up and being sent to their voicemail, most of us have the same reaction, we just hang up at that point, it’s just not worth it. Or worse — and this is a sick twisted joke — believing they’re actually on the line, only to hear them crack up and say

“oh sorry, I’m not really here, this is my voicemail *snigger* leave a message”

We’re all very familiar with the voicemail. With its robotic sounding lady on the other side prompting us leave our message after the tone and the person would get back to us as soon as possible. Obviously. Hopefully.

Then you’ve got the other person, who if they don’t have visual voicemail, this new feate of technological marvel have to actually remember to actually call their voicemails and check for any messages left. As if anyone does that nowadays.

Who remembers to call their voicemail.
Why is that still a thing?

What I don’t understand is why no carrier or phone provider ever thought of incorporating that into our messaging app. Voicemails are just an old way of saying “listen to this voice note that I had to leave you because you didn’t pickup my phone call within twelve seconds.. seriously, what is so important in your day that you couldn’t answer me?!”

Look at WhatsApp! Messenger! Literally copy exactly that. Plug the voice note straight into your conversations with said person, and if they are not someone you have as a contact, it opens up into a new conversation under their number. We love voice notes, they’re simple and easy. Why for the love of G_d do we still have voicemail?

Lets take this a step further

Okay, that’s simple and there is absolutely no reason we can’t do that nowadays, but I want to go further. We want to go further.

Phone call + Secretary + Robots + Siri + More AI + Singularity — voicemail = Yes please!

What if Siri could answer your call for you. Just like if you had your own PA or secretary. What if she could take care of most tasks and only allow the call through when needed. What if she knew when you were busy and when you had time to answer.

Lets play this out.

Say David is calling you, he wants to know if you want to come over and watch the game at his place after work. He calls, Siri answers,

“Hi David, it’s Siri, how can I help?”

“Hey, Siri, I wanted to know if Avraham wanted to come watch the game at my place tonight.”

“Sure David, let me check his schedule.. He actually has a meeting and is staying at the offices a little late tonight, let me put a note in his calendar and I’ll pass on the message to give you a call back if he is able after he gets off his call.”

“Thanks Siri, appreciate it.”

Meanwhile, I haven’t been disturbed by any ringing at all, I’m in middle of my call, I didn’t have to tell the person on the other line to hold up and check my screen to know what it was about, and as soon as I hang up I hear Siri in my Eight

“David just called, he wanted to know if you wanted to watch the game after work, you have a very important meeting around 6:30 so I jotted it down in your calendar, take a look and call him back, or, you can press accept on the note and I’ll give him a call back.”

I wasn’t disturbed because it wasn’t urgent and Siri was able to handle the call and deal with the appropriate apps, figuring things out and letting me know what she’s taken care of.

Now we can easily think how this could be handled if, say, David had let Siri know that it was urgent or an emergency.

“Siri, this is an emergency, please put Avraham on the line.”

“No worries David, hang on a sec”

and all I would hear at my end through my Eight is

“David is on the line, he says it’s an emergency, (optional: it’s about…)”

or if the request is something out of Siri's scope, she could pass on the message to me to call David back when I had a chance,

“David, that’s a little beyond me, I’ll pass on the message, we’ll call you back”

or let me know straight away,

“He just got off his call, let me put you through”

“Avraham, its David calling, (optional: it’s about…)”

There is no annoying ringtone going on, I actually hear the information straight away, the message is in the notification.

This is the very beginning.

Secretaries and Personal Assistants are no more limited to the wealthy and busy, this is something we could all be looking forward to having.

I know I want one.

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