The different types of answering machine software are mostly defined by the features they offer. These include the length of the message the software is able to record and audio quality that is sometimes significantly better than what is possible with a standard answering machine. Some software also is able to sort incoming messages into various folders for prioritizing. Still other software has a fax feature included.
The basic premise of using software instead of a physical machine to answer phone calls and record messages offers many advantages. Answering machine software is able to manipulate the incoming data in ways that a dedicated machine cannot. The interface of using actual software instead of a machine with only a few buttons also gives the benefit of being able to interact in a more complex way. With the development of voice over Internet protocol (VoIP) calls, a software-based answering machine becomes an even more attractive option.
One of the most effective features of all answering machine software is the ability to record as much audio data as a storage device can hold. The audio quality might even be better, because digital data does not degrade over time the way a cassette might. Having a digital recording of a message also means the playback can be controlled, allowing the listener to skip through a message or archive it for later listening.
Another feature of certain types of answering machine software is the ability to sort incoming messages into special folders. This allows messages from unknown callers to be placed in one folder, while calls from known friends can be placed in another, allowing the user to prioritize what needs to be listened to first. Some software even allows the receiving and sorting of text and picture messages.
Depending on the type of Internet connection, some types of answering machine software can be configured to send alerts to other devices or email accounts. The software can take a message and then send an email alert to a work email address with the details of who called and how long the message is. It might even include the capability to send text messages through a web-based interface.
There are specific types of answering machine software that attempt to be more than just recording software. This can include a program that also has voice recognition, allowing controls to be navigated exclusively through voice commands. Some programs also integrate a phone-dialing feature so that, once a message is listened to, the phone number can be dialed back on request to initiate a call.
There also are types of answering machine software that integrate other options, such as being able to receive a fax transmission. The same type of software also might include the ability to send a fax. By integrating the abilities of an answering machine, access to a live phone line and the power of fully customizable computer software, there is a limitless combination of features that can be employed by answering machine software.