Unified Messaging System
The Unified Messaging System combines all of your communications, making it easier for you to:
- communicate with your friends, family, and other contacts regardless of beginning and end-points (the computer, phone, or device that you will be sending from and they will be receiving your message from),
- retain all communications you've had with these contacts (in one or few places, and forever), and
- see or find these communications you had
Current State of Communication
With many of my contacts, I exchange messages in most or even all of the following ways:
- Phone (one of us calls the other)
- Email (often to one or more email addresses)
- SMS/MMS (TXT)
- Chat/IM (over various networks, including AOL Instant Messenger, Google Talk, and Facebook Chat; and often using more than one computer)
- other message service (e.g., Facebook Message)
Often, you can only...
- ... see your call log (when you received, made, or missed a call) on your phone
- ... receive your voicemail from your phone (though, some services allow voicemail to be checked a number of other ways, as well)
- ... send and receive email using an email client on your computer, web browser, or phone
- ... send and receive SMS/MMS messages with your phone
- ... chat using a client on your computer, web browser, or phone; and view your chat log from the computer where you did that chatting
- ... get your Facebook Messages using Facebook.
So, in order to find a particular communication with someone, you will usually find yourself having to use a particular device. While these methods all have a lot of overlap, they often involve the use of different programs.
Unified Messaging System
In order to bring all of these communications together, this probably means that all messages will either need to be passed to or through one service.
Here's how this might work at first -- keeping in mind the reality of the need to work with incumbent technology, infrastructure, and providers (and let's say that your current email service provider supports the Unified Messaging System, and will be your UMS service provider):
- they will continue to serve as your email gateway; i.e., emails to you will be delivered to your UMS service provider (where you will be able to retrieve them)
- your phone or your phone service provider will send your call logs to your UMS service provider
- your phone service provider will deliver your voicemails to your UMS provider (where you will be able to retrieve them)
- your phone or your phone service provider will send a copy of SMS and MMS messages to your UMS service provider
- if the IM/chat message is already going through your UMS service provider (e.g., Google Talk or Facebook Chat), they will retain a copy of the message
- if the IM/chat message is going through a different provider (e.g., AOL Instant Messenger or Yahoo! IM), they will send a copy of the message to your UMS service provider
So, your UMS provider has a copy of all of your communications including what kind it was, who it came from, which of your addresses it was to, and of course: the message itself.
Example of Messages in your Unified Messaging Service
Example of communications with your friend Jane in your Unified Messaging Service.
|Type||Service||From||To||Message||about this example|
|email@example.comfirstname.lastname@example.org||[an email message...]||this is an email sent to your yourdomain.com email address serviced by Google Apps|
|email@example.comfirstname.lastname@example.org||[an email message...]||this is an email from Joe sent to your hotmail.com email address|
|email@example.comfirstname.lastname@example.org||[an email message...]||this is an email to Joe that you sent from your yourdomain.com email address|
|SMS||T-Boostizon||001-415-555-1212||001-408-555-1234||[a text message...]||this is an SMS you sent to Joe from your phone|
|MMS||T-Boostizon||001-408-555-1234||001-415-555-1212||[a multimedia message...]||this is an MMS you received from Joe|
|Call Log||T-Boostizon||001-415-555-1212||001-408-555-1234||Outgoing call; duration: 4m 16s||this is call log entry of a call you made to Joe|
|Call Log||T-Boostizon||001-408-555-1234||001-415-555-1212||Incoming missed call||this is a call log entry of a call you missed from Joe|
|Voicemail||T-Boostizon||001-408-555-1234||001-415-555-1212||[digital audio file, and possibly also a transcript of it for easy reading...]||a digital audio file of a voicemail that Joe left for you|
|Instant Message||gmail.com / Jabberemail@example.comfirstname.lastname@example.org||[a rich text message...]||an Instant Message that Joe sent to your email-address based chat address|
|Instant Message||AOL Instant Messenger||Your AIM name||SanJoseJoe123||[a rich text message...]||an Instant Message that you sent to Joe via AOL Instant Messenger|
|Instant Message||Facebook Chat||1000123456789 (Your Facebook UID)||1000987654321 (Joe's Facebook UID)||[a text message...]||an Instant Message that you sent to Joe on Facebook|
Role of the Address Book
Integral to the usefulness of this message database is your Address Book, which keeps track of each of your contacts' known addresses (including email addresses, phone numbers, IM names, and mailing addresses). It is used when you want to browse or search all communications you've had with a particular person, or to determine what person it was that you exchanged a particular message with.
Notable Groups / Services with a Similar Vision
Many services already understand the need for unifying your communication and are making headway to do so. They simply still have a long way to go, and there's little to no standard or openness.
- Gmail -- combines email and chat
- Google Voice -- improves calling and voicemail, while also combining those and SMS with email (Gmail)
- Facebook Messaging -- combines Facebook messages, IM, and email (somewhat)
Similar Goals / Vision
- Pidgin / detachable libpurple -- "The goal of detachable libpurple sessions is to allow a user to have several running libpurple based applications simultaneously ... All the connected clients will access and display the buddy list, conversations, and chats"