For a few years (an eternity in Internet time), a telecom company called Tellme hosted a free service called Extensions. By calling 1-800-555-TELL, you could access one of thousands of voice sites published by people. Anybody who was willing to learn VoiceXML could set up one of these voice services. They recognized the caller’s speech without training, and could read information using either a pre-recorded voice or TTS.
Alas, Extensions are no more. Although both 1-800-555-TELL and Tellme Studio still exist, there’s no way for the average developer to publicize their work. This has resulted in a lot of useful hotlines, games, and even audio blogs shutting down.
Tellme doesn’t disclose the magic numbers of call volume and service fees that would allow these people to publish again, but rumor has it that the company doesn’t respond to inquiries that estimate less than one million* calls per month. That excludes your humble blogger.
Rest in peace, Tellme Extensions. I’m hoping some web hosting provider takes over for you and offers VoiceXML hosting for the masses at affordable prices – there’s a void that needs to be filled.
* LINK TENDING 1/11 – Removed dead link.