Neat New Tricks For Your Cell Phone

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I was walking around my neighborhood talking into my cell phone the other day but it was a one-way conversation. Instead of chatting with a friend, I was recording a podcast or, as some call it, a "mobcast."

Mobcasting - short for "mobile podcasting" - is when you use your cell phone to create an audio file that can be downloaded over the Internet. It can be used to be an on-the-spot reporter as news breaks from the field or it could just be a convenient way to get your ideas out to the world from wherever you happen to be.

There are a number of ways to create a mobcast, including using some traditional blogging services like Blogger.com, or you could use a new service from Voice Genesis which allows you to create a podcast by "e-mailing" your audio file from your cell phone to the company's web server.

While the service is new, Voice Genesis has been enabling cell phones to send voice e-mail, which it calls "Vemail," for about a year. The company's flagship $4.99-a-month Vemail service, available on compatible phones from Verizon and some smaller carriers, lets you receive e-mail as text that you can read on the screen, and then respond by speaking into your phone.

After you respond by voice, the person on the other end receives an e-mail in their inbox with a link to an audio file and a phone number in case they're using a device without a sound card and need to call in.

As a free add-on to its Vemail service, Voice Genesis now lets you subscribe to publicly available podcasts, which can automatically arrive in your cell phone inbox, and be listened to on the phone.

Once you have a Voice Genesis account, you can go to the company's web site, log into your accounts and specify the podcasts you wish to receive. You can select one from a menu or just add the RSS address of any podcast. As the podcasts are updated, new episodes are mailed to your cell phone.

Click here to hear Larry Magid's podcast interview of Voice Genesis CEO Mark Marriot, talking about a new product which turns cell phones into a tool to create podcasts and e-mail using your voice.
Dictating a podcast into a cell phone is called "mobcasting." With this service, you launch the application, speak your podcast and then e-mail it to a Voice Genesis server that allows others to listen or even "watch" the podcast, which can be up to an hour long.

By "watch," I don't mean that you can use this for a video podcast (at least not yet), but there's an option that lets you select an avatar, a digital character whose lips will move in sequence with what you say.

Users can hear or view your podcast from a Web page or by subscribing via RSS, just as they can with most blogs, news stories and podcasts recorded in more traditional ways.

What's neat about mobcasting is that you can create a podcast wherever you are. If you get an inspiration while walking down the street, you don't have to wait until you get home to tell the world about it.

The quality of the audio is pretty good. Even though you're sending the audio through the cell phone network, you're not dependent on a good phone connection for the audio itself. You're actually dictating it into the phone, which stores it as a file and then sends it via email just as you would any data file.

Cell phones don't have the best microphones in the world, so don't expect sound like anything like professional broadcaster. But this isn't about professional broadcasting: it's about regular people getting their voices heard from wherever they happen to be.



A syndicated technology columnist for over two decades, Larry Magid serves as on air Technology Analyst for CBS Radio News. His technology reports can be heard several times a week on the CBS Radio Network. Magid is the author of several books including "The Little PC Book."
By Larry Magid
  • Lloyd Vries

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