Reply to BlackBerry e-mail hands-free!

SANTA BARBARA, CALIF. -- CrackBerry addicts love their BlackBerrys above all for the ease and power of e-mail on the go. Suddenly, a brand-new service makes BlackBerry e-mail even easier and more powerful. Just push a button, and reply to messages by talking. The sender gets your reply e-mail as text, with a link to your voice message. If you have a BlackBerry, you need this.

The service is called Jott for BlackBerry. It's free, and it ships tomorrow (Monday).

I was really excited to discover Jott's plans for this service, because I'm already a heavy (constant and daily) user of Jott, plus I carry a BlackBerry Pearl, which has a relatively slow-to-use keyboard. I find myself replying to e-mail between flights, while at red lights in the car and other situations where typing is hard and time is limited. I haven't tried it yet, but I expect Jott for BlackBerry to allow me to send far better and more useful replies in less time.

If you're unfamiliar with Jott, it's a free service that lets you call (via speed dial, preferably) a special number they give you. By speaking, you tell the service who you want to send the message to (from a list of contacts you set up). Jott then transcribes your voice message to text, and sends it as an e-mail. Most users send a lot of "Jotts" to themselves as e-mail reminders.

Jott for BlackBerry is software you download to your 8800, BlackBerry Curve or BlackBerry Pearl that integrates seamlessly with the phones' native email function, according to Jott. It doesn't appear as an icon in your apps area. It vanishes into a tiny new function in your BlackBerry's e-mail application. The installation adds two menu items: "Reply with Jott" and "Reply All with Jott". After installation, you'll be able to choose one of those menu items. Your reply will fit right into the thread you're having, and will look and feel like normal e-mail, with the addition of a URL link that plays the audio.

Jott says their service makes e-mail replies about five times faster than typing a reply. The real benefit, however, is that you can give longer and more detailed replies. Rather than typing "I'll call u l8tr" you can say, "OK, that sounds fine. Call Carl and Janet and get them on board, then fax me the report at my home office." In other words, you can finish your business rather than just telling people you'll connect later, which is what many of us end up doing with any cell phone based e-mail reply.

Jott will roll out this week a humorous marketing campaign centered around a malady they invented called "Terse Reply Syndrome" (TRS) for which, of course, Jott for BlackBerry is the cure. The idea is that BlackBerry replies tend to be way too short, because they have to be typed out quickly on the go and on a tiny phone keyboard.

As a longtime TRS sufferer, I'm really excited about Jott for BlackBerry. It sounds like just what the doctor ordered.

[ Update: Jott for BlackBerry is now available. Go to www.jott.com/bb on your BlackBerry's browser to download. ] 

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