SMS and voice messages from my site?

A client of mine wants to be able to send SMS messages from his site. Easy, there are a few services available for that, some free even. But he also wants to be able to send voice messages from his site, something like “You received an email from <username>” where username is the username is dynamic content.

I can probably talk him into just doing a predefined message, like “You received an email from a user on” if need be.

Is anyone familiar with such a service? Also I guess it shouldn’t have a max on contact numbers.

Thanks for any suggestions or tips.

I’m a developer evangelist for Tropo, so if you need any help, I’m happy to oblige. We’ve also got 24x7 support with blazing fast turnaround times.

In Tropo, you can do what you’re asking for pretty easily.

Here’s some PHP code for it.

message(“You received an email from $username”, array(‘to’ => $numberTo, ‘network’ => $net));

Create a Tropo app at (it’s 100% free for development use) and stick that code in your application.

Then you kick off the call by making a simple GET request to our API and include some variables in the query string.

Those query string variables are converted automatically to global variables in your Tropo script. So you can pass any data you want, just add more query string variables.

Our Text To Speech engines are pretty good at getting names right. If you have a username that’s not a real world or is unpronouncable, you can do something like split the name up into individual letters so we’ll read it out, one character at a time.

Does anyone have any experience using

One thing to note (and the main reason I now use tropo over twilio) is that twilio is only usable within the US, whereas tropo is fully international. Tropo is easier to use with skype too which is good for quick tests of apps and is more open too so effort expended in creating apps is portable elsewhere if necessary

I echo the support for Twilio. They have a great service and the people who run the business are really outstanding. See the site OpenVBX platform which wraps a lot of Twilio functionality and can save a lot of custom coding.

Speaking of code, there are a number of wrappers for Twilio functionality - for handling inbound calls and SMS, and for sending out SMS and making phone calls. These can also save you a lot of coding time. Info is on the Twilio site.

Ask detailed questions at, and join the once-per week IRC session (see

(Just another happy user, not a paid endorsement) (:

Twilio can certainly be used for both your use cases. Sending SMS is as easy as posting to a posting to a URL.

Playing the voice message is a little more complex, as you need to point the call to a URL describing what should happen. Still, the call is initiated using a REST interface, and the ‘TwiML’ (that’s their markup language) document would essentially be (using PHP, but it’s a simple concept):

       You received an email from: <?php echo $_GET['username'] ?>

You don’t really need the TwiML document if you use the ‘Echo’ Twimlet , which essentially allows you to pass the entire TwiML document as a get var.

Hope that helps.

The biggest problem I see is finding a service that can pronounce some more obscure user names. Not to mention, the receiver may not even know the user name in question.

Perhaps the best option would be as you suggested “You have received a new message from”…

Why you’d ring the caller to start with is beyond me. Seems to be a bad idea compared to SMS, email or in application messages.