The nation's smallest national carrier has to score points with customers somewhere, and providing free visual voicemail has been one of those places. Some of the big players charge Android users a monthly fee for this feature. Well, T-Mobile has to defray the monstrously large costs of making your voicemail easier to access somehow, right? In the newest version of T-Mobile's official visual voicemail app, it has chosen to include banner ads. The users are not amused.

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Instead of showing you a full list of your messages, the UI cuts off the bottom and instead displays a banner ad. The content is the usual kind of spam you see in other apps: dating sites, free apps that want your data, and products you'll never use. Strangely, tapping on the ads does not reach out to the Android system handler to open an appropriate app – T-Mobile has added a built-in browser to its voicemail app so it can load ads. So an ad for an item in the Play Store doesn't open the Play Store; it opens the visual voicemail browser and loads the app's webpage. Bizarre.

T-Mobile advertises the visual voicemail app as an included feature of all its data packages (voicemail transcription costs extra). It feels a little slimy to start pumping ads into everyone's official T-Mobile apps. Users are currently hammering T-Mobile with 1-star reviews in the store, but the app never had a high rating in the first place. Now might be the time to get conditional call forwarding set up so you can use Google Voice instead of T-Mobile's voicemail system.

[Thanks, Dan]

Ryan Whitwam
Ryan is a tech/science writer, skeptic, lover of all things electronic, and Android fan. In his spare time he reads golden-age sci-fi and sleeps, but rarely at the same time. His wife tolerates him as few would.

He's the author of a sci-fi novel called The Crooked City, which is available on Amazon and Google Play.

  • xnifex

    Well that explains what that white space below my messages is... YAY adaway!

  • Sonny Grasso

    I guess I just won't update it

  • ixo

    There are ads all over this story. Kettle. Black. Ridiculous.

    • http://www.facebook.com/Elrando.the.Wonderhorse Matthew Gardner

      That's not a valid comparison.
      You already pay to use T-mobile's services, and they're tossing ads in as well.
      You don't pay anything to view Android Police, the ads are there to pay for the site and help the writer's make something for their time and effort.

      If anything is ridiculous it's your comment.

      • armshouse

        I see ixo's point though. Not about the comparison with AP because they're two completely different models. But the idea that TMOB is a small company in the US compared to the other providers and therefore will struggle competing. But I suppose I'd accept an advert in an app to allow tmob is provide it for free rather than them switching to a charging model

    • Michael Kennedy

      Apples and Organges to the nth degree-

      1. There is a HUGE difference with ads on a website (on my huge monitor) and on an phone app (on a tiny screen)

      2. Android Police is free, I didn't pay a dime to come here. On the other hand, I paid money for my phone and service so I can get unhindered voicemail.

      3. ... Your comment was too glib to deserve a #3 or anything past that.

      • ixo

        So ads help pay for services? Like being a small cell provider in an industry dominated by two huge gorillas that regularly screw over their customers? Looking at the website in front of me, I'd say 80% is ads, and there's a story somewhere in the middle. This story starts out saying how ads are supporting a service that T-Mobile is giving for free in an industry where the norm is to charge extra for it. Then it whines about how annoying said ads are. Then I have to scroll past a bunch of ads to comment. Operation Clownshoes, commence, and have fun. Removing bookmark, it's all just reposts anyway.

        • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

          The difference is T-Mobile added ads while our business model has always relied on them.

          Don't let the door hit you on the way out.

        • AaronGingrich

          Except we aren't charging you to read the post AND displaying ads.

    • Storm Walsh

      Do you pay for Android Police? No. Do you pay for the T-Mobile service? Yes.
      That difference should be apparent to anybody of average intelligence.

      • Perfect Storm

        By your logic - none of the magazines or newspapers or TV channels should have ads.. :)

  • Usama Ahmad

    I wonder though, wouldn't an Android user use Google Voice to handle their Voicemail? You don't need to use the GV number to do that, it'll work with your carrier's number just fine, it offers the same functionality if not MORE since you can easily get to your VMs on the web.

    • http://twitter.com/biafrarepublic B-Rep

      T-Mobile does not exactly play nice with Google Voice, or at least, that was the case when I had them last.

      • BigMixxx

        Ive never, EVER had a problem with google voice. I'm a LONG time user of the service.....

        It's ok though. annoying but ok...

    • Ryan Stuckmaier

      You can't use Google Voice with T-Mobile prepaid accounts.

  • http://twitter.com/2LadyDi Lady Di

    Not only are the ads annoying but when I click on the voice mail icon in the keypad or dial pad, it dials the voice mail service. Prior to his update it would open the visual voice app. Anyone else experiencing this mess as well? Thanks for the article Android Police. Maybe more attention to the problem may get another update to correct this.

  • http://twitter.com/snalty bad wolf

    And a nice half assed holo theme... great.

  • [email protected]

    This is really pissing me off!! Apperently when visual voice mail updated it deleted my account, now when I went to retrieve a very important voice mail it required me to set up account again however it forced me to delete all voicemails associated with the "old" account!!!!! What the hell!! Oh yeah, if you want to write a review on ANY apps on Play Store you must now set up a Google+ account. I'm starting to not like Android for the same reasons I hate Apple and the iPhone....BIG BROTHER!

  • hiya

    To remove in the settings: On the Android device, Go to Voice mail >> Menu >> Settings >> Uncheck Display Ads.