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How Online Reminder Services Work

Phone Reminder Service
Jott users can call the service and leave voice notes, which the service transcribes into the user's account.
Jott users can call the service and leave voice notes, which the service transcribes into the user's account.
Copyright 2008 HowStuffWorks

Services like Jott allow users to create notes and reminders by phoning it in, literally. Instead of logging into an account and typing in reminders, users can call a phone number and record short messages.

First, like most other reminder services, the user has to create an account. The user submits information including his or her e-mail address and cell phone number. For advanced options, the user may have to include additional information or download plug-ins or applications.

After the registration process, the user can start recording messages. Since we've mentioned Jott, we'll use it as an example of what happens from this point forward when creating a basic reminder. But keep in mind that not all reminder services work in exactly the same way -- Jott's just an example of one approach. Here's how it works:

  1. The registered user dials in to Jott's phone number: 866-568-8123.
  2. A pre-recorded voice will ask "Who do you want to Jott?" The user would respond with "Reminder."
  3. Jott then asks the user when it should send him or her the reminder. First the user responds with a day (which can be in a date format such as June 12, or it can be something as simple as "tomorrow"). Then Jott prompts the user for the time of day he or she wishes to receive the reminder.
  4. Jott repeats the day and time information back to the user and asks if the information is correct. Assuming everything is okay, the user responds with "yes."
  5. Jott asks the user for the message. After the user speaks his or her message, Jott lets the user know if it recorded the reminder successfully. The basic Jott account allows users to record messages up to 15 seconds in length [source: Jott].
  6. The user hangs up and Jott runs the recording through voice recognition software to convert it to text.
  7. If the voice recognition software has trouble deciphering certain words, Jott flags the message and sends it to a human for transcription.
  8. At the appropriate time, Jott sends the message to the user either through e-mail, a text message or both.

Jott can do more than send reminders. Wit­h the right kind of user account, you can phone in e-mail­s, calendar events and group messages without touching a keyboard. It's not the only reminder service that relies on voice recognition software, though it may be the best known of the bunch.

How do these services make money? Find out in the next section.