I’m trying something a bit different and unusual for myself, today.
…actually I do unusual things almost daily. however, in this case I am absolutely focused on a vital mission. perhaps the unusual part is the effort means helping Android, kind of.
did you even know there is an “Android” website that is separate from Google?
in any event, as most of you know I am an tried-and-true Apple evangelist, but also diligent about keeping an open-mind and heart around technology. this includes mobile devices, and technology in general.
of course, I was amongst the first to try the Nexus One. It was interesting, but too much work to maintain my standards around efficiency.
Since then I’ve experimented with several other Android device’s to include the Samsung Note and recently the Samsung Galaxy S4. The GS4 just pissed me off because it remains complicated. email is a chore for Gods’ sake. I’ve seen Android phones get better and more powerful over the years, as Google and phone manufacturers pack devices with more and more features.
because Google lets device makers customize Android to suit their needs, Samsung, LG, and others have been adding their own distinguishing features. however, there comes a time when less is more. I’m convinced we’ve reached that time. so, the differentiator comes down to utilization, functionality, simplicity, and possibly elegance.
as much as Apple can be criticized for exerting control over what goes on its iPhones, it wins on simplicity. there are no competing agendas — just Apple’s.
however, I maintained my commitment to being open-minded and got my hands on the Nexus 4. I love it. as least as much as any reasonable human bean can genuinely love a soulless piece of equipment. but, this mobile device is inspired. while this blog post is not meant to be a review – that is forthcoming – the stage was set for my on-going investigation around utilization that has generated adventures, if not hijinks. the Android operating system the Nexus 4 runs is excellent. in recent years the Google-made system has become a healthy competitor to Apple’s iOS system for iPhones.
and, that’s the source and thusly, the standard set-forth of the problem. most Android devices are over-packed with bags of tricks. phones, in general, have become way too complicated for many people to use. in some cases it’s because these custom features work only some of the time. in other cases, you’re confronted with too many ways to do similar things. or, quality control is not a priority, and they don’t play nice with the outside at all.
all of this brings me to my point.
Apple innovated visual voicemail. other companies perfected it. but, Apple remains the standard for simplicity and elegance. however, I wanted a bit more customization, so I researched and went with youmail. it was easy to set-up on an iPhone. I don’t know about phones in general, but, the hearty list of manufacturers (i.e. Apple, Samsung), Operating System (iOS and Android), and service provider (AT&T, Sprint, etc) are comprehensive. in any event, it just works great and I have been content with all of it for roughly four years now.
however, after firing-up my Nexus 4 on AT&T (that was simple and accomplished at the local AT&T Store), I downloaded the youmail App from Google’s ever-more-robust Play Store and tried to set that up. typically this means accessing the phone interface, entering a simple code, *004*3478966996#, and you are good to go. voice messages are routed from AT&T (in my case) to youmail. it has some cool custom features that serve well both personally and professionally that include emails sent to me that allow me to listen to my voice messages in almost any manner that I see fit.
however, all of this failed me with the Nexus 4 in-hand. After repeated attempts I was left with a discouraging error code that haplessly read, “call forwarding connection problem or invalid MMI code”.
believe it or not there is almost nothing about this dilemma recorded by Nexus 4 or youmail users once “googled”, “binged”, or “yahood”. so, I accessed the youmail trouble forum. but, still found nothing. I was, however, encouraged to upgrade my service to a more premium plan. I was skeptical about that, and began to match it with some growing frustration. I initiated a trouble-ticket and “Irish”, a youmail customer service engineer began a ponderous and pointless exchange with me that included instructing AT&T to manually change some settings under call forwarding. NOTE: as it turns out “Irish” can be found on several forums dismissing issues relative to youmail complaints. so, my contact with AT&T and my experiential journey involved two ominous terms – “conditional” and “unconditional” call forwarding. evidently, carrier voice mail is forwarded to youmail through the “conditional” protocol. so, while working with no less than three AT&T customer service representative, and also four technical support people, that was ultimately escalated to a tier-two representative (whom was ironically the least helpful and knowledgable, for that matter), it became clear that no one knew how to solve the problem.
have you ever had the feeling you were the first and only person to have a technical issue when you sought help from customer and/ or technical support?
for the record, I also called LG’s customer service. they manufacture the Nexus 4. a decidedly desultory fellow with a Mexican accent (that was a first for me) came on the line and fumbled around a bit (he could not understand ME). he tried to ask a few questions but lost interest (I kept hearing, “we don’t need no stinking customer services for you, here” in my head) and ended the call with LG taking the position of, “does not support third-party Apps”.
in our socially networked world, should not everyone actually try to work with third-party apps and operating systems? I am now going to try and pull together some engineers that can create a ubiquitous platform. just watch me.
so… at the moment I don’t know if youmail is a problem specifically for or related to Android devices, LG devices, AT&T as a carrier, or just the Nexus 4. I don’t know if the Nexus 4 being unlocked, unbranded, and unsubsidized by a carrier are issues, either. but, all of that might be relevant.
however, I now have the work-around answer for the Nexus 4, AT&T and youmail. I came across an exchange between yet another foreign dude (his avatar picture made him appear like a technical rep with ear phones, and all), that I decided was some foreign exchange student and “Irish”. he had apparently upgraded from an 8gb Nexus 4 to an 16 gb Nexus 4 and youmail was giving him fits (I’m going to speculate, here, that some software changes between the LG manufactured models were the most likely culprit). now… for me that just clouds the issue. however, the not-so-easy solution was evidently to simply access the Nexus 4 settings interface and update call forwarding manually with part of the aforementioned code. how Irish managed to be forgetful of all this during our own exchanges just blows me away. but, the simple fact that even AT&T reps don’t have access to historical and relevant trouble-shotting history, also astounds me. all they will say is, “the Nexus 4 is not supported by AT&T”.
so, I suspect that answers the subsidization issue question.
as I finally wrap all of this up, I sent “Irish” an email attached to my growing trouble ticket with its ever-more cold solution and response trail with the following information:
“You might want to update your forums and FAQs.
I called AT&T again and had them manually update my call forwarding, “busy”, “uninsured”, and “unavailable” with the +13478966996 number.
youmail now appears to work. at least for the moment.
The mystery remains why this is not accomplished by the usual and simpler method of entering *004*3478966996# into your phone and simply hitting “call”. in any event, is this related to Android, LG, and/ or unlocked phones? are you even going to respond to me? or, do I need to upgrade to a premium service just to confirm what I did on my own?
I can’t believe youmail was unable to address all of this with more adeptness unless you are trying to push people to upgrade to the more expensive service. I’ll relate all of this on my blog today for the sake of posterity.”
now you all know what I know (not real… I am way ahead, and with a comfortable margin. but, at least I’m willing to share – and, possibly give you, collectively, a benefit of a doubt).
I do however, suspect that the elusive and shadowily pipe-smoking dog that probably leads the shadowy organization ultimately known as “they” are likely involved.
peace be to my Brothers and Sisters.
brian patrick cork