This age-old telephone dilemma has been solved, and the solution is ingeniously simple: transcribing incoming voicemail messages so that you can read them instead.
Apple is preparing a new tool which will use voice assistant Siri to transcribe messages, and then send you a text message with the transcribed voicemail, Business Insider reports.
The new feature is part of the iCloud voicemail service the tech giant is rolling out in its upcoming operating system iOS 9, which allows custom voicemail responses, so you can choose to disclose information about where you are and why you can’t answer the phone to specific people.
When using iCloud voicemail, if you're unable to take a call, Siri will answer, rather than letting the call go to a regular voicemail recorder, and the message will then be automatically transcribed and sent to you by text message.
Apple isn’t the first company to offer this kind of service for voicemail haters, but the last one to garner media attention did it for all the wrong reasons: SpinVox hit headlines some years ago as its voicemail transcription service that was ostensibly supposed to be automated was accused of operating through underpaid call centre workers providing the service manually.
Google has also had transcription services via Google Voice for a few years now, but mediocre accuracy has thus far kept it from catching on.
The voicemail service is the latest way in which Apple is boosting its virtual assistant as competition stiffens in the form of Microsoft’s Cortana and Google Now.