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New: Machine detection, better conferencing, and more

Posted on September 6, 2013 by Adam Kalsey

Today we’re announcing a great new release for Tropo. We’ve added built-in answering machine detection for outgoing calls, made it easier to tell Tropo what numbers you want to dial or use for caller ID, and given you control over what conference participants hear as people enter and leave the conference. We’ve also fixed a number of outstanding issues, and improved performance and stability under the hood. This is the best-tested release of Tropo ever — we’ve more than doubled the number of tests we run against Tropo.

GortMan Or Machine?

When using the call method, you can automatically determine if the answerer is a machine or a human. When you turn on machine detection, Tropo will analyze a number of factors ranging from vocal patterns to detecting the voicemail “beep” and tell your application’s code who’s on the other end of the call. What’s more, we do this in a way that improves the overall call experience.

With Tropo, the silence usually found in machine detection features is eliminated. Human callers hear your application immediately, reducing hangups and the “hello? hello?” frustrations of the people you’re calling. Other systems can have up to four seconds of silence while they detect the machine, and in fact use the hello-pause-hello pattern that people hate as their primary detection mechanism.

Formatting

For a simple string of digits, phone numbers can be incredibly messy in the real world. People write them with all sorts of separators and formatting, trying to make them easier to remember. In fact, there are two entire specifications from the IETF that detail how telephone numbers can be formatted and represented as strings. The same US phone number could be written as (650) 555-1234 or 650-555-1234 or even +1 650.555.1234. To help you deal with all this messy data, Tropo now will accept all those formats. Or just about any other format you throw at it. Go ahead, use spaces, dashes, dots, and parens in your caller IDs or numbers you’re dialing.

Who’s There?

One of Tropo’s most-used features is conferencing. And why wouldn’t it be? The ability to connect up to one hundred calls into the same room is enticing. We’ve spent a lot of time evaluating how conferencing gets used and have a whole bunch of enhancements up our sleeves. First out the door is the ability to play customized prompts as people join and leave. You can play a simple, built-in beep, or go hog wild, playing your own audio files or text to speech. Even include SSML if you want. Anything you can do in the say() method, you can do in the conference method’s new joinPrompt and leavePrompt parameters. Ask the caller to say their name, then join them into a conference with their name in their own voice: “Now joining, Darth Vader.”

Availability

All these changes are available starting today in our free developer sandbox. Start working these into your applications now, so you’re ready when they’re be added to the Production environment on September 17.

To get the run-down on all the changes in today’s release of Tropo, visit http://changes.tropo.com/ or follow @tropochanges on Twitter.

A note for carriers

If you’re one of the worldwide carriers with APIs powered by Tropo, all these features are already available in the Tropo platform for your developers to love. This release also adds a lot of stuff for your operations to love, too. Improved performance, better interop with your IMS and other voice and SMS services, and more monitoring and configuration options than ever before.

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