Lotus Notes creator Ray Ozzie thinks it’s time to pick up the phone and have conversations again. There’s nothing wrong with email and texts, he says, but sometimes a simple phone call with a co-worker or a call with a group is the best way of getting something done. Especially because it allows us to really connect via tone of voice and human emotion.
And yes, Ozzie knows that iChat exists and that the conference call has already been invented and is too often loathed by all.
Talko Aims to be Pitch Perfect
Ozzie, who Bill Gates once called the smartest engineer he ever worked with, says the problem with voice is that it doesn’t leverage today’s technology.
“If the call had never been invented before the Internet and some little Y Combinator startup woke up one morning and said, ‘hey you can transmit voice over the Internet,’ it probably would have taken a different form,” Ozzie said in a conversation with Bloomberg news. “So I challenged the team to think what is the best way to weave voice into the way people naturally work.”
The answer they came up with is Talko, an app “that's designed to unlock the potential of voice,” is the company’s pitch.
Media Rich Calling
What it does, aside from record and archive conversations you have on your iPhone (Android and web versions still to come), is allow you to dial out to your team all at once. And those who couldn’t make the call, or want to hear exactly what they agreed to, can listen to the recording and respond to questions or issues voice to voice, within the recording of the call. Yes, you can actually include your insight to “let me get back to you on that” in the original recording.
You can also add hashtags, text and pictures to conversations after the fact and everything will be synchronized. Better yet, you can skip around in the conversation so that you don’t have to replay the when trying to find a small comment.
I tried Talko out with a few friends and our experience was pretty good. Others (though it was a few months ago) reported some issues. Given Ozzie’s track record, they’ll probably be fixed in short order.
We should say that Talko is meant to be a workplace tool, but there’s no reason it can’t be used by consumers, especially because the download is free.
My only concern -- provided that it offers a tremendous use experience -- is finding who owns the content of the archived phone calls. Though it’s not a paid service yet, I suspect it will be whoever foots the bill.
And, if there’s video calling that already offers something similar, unless it comes with hair and makeup, I’m out.