One rung down from having a friend call you to get out of a bad date is SlyDial, a new service that lets you send people voice mail messages without actually having to call them. Yes such a feature exists if someone legitimately leaves you a voice mail (giving you the option to leave a voice mail reply), but SlyDial lets you skip that first step by simply sending them the message as you would an SMS message. It's tricky, it's evil--I love it.
Maybe the best part is that it works on all the carriers. In my testing, I got it to work with AT&T, Sprint, and Verizon, although it seemed to choke on my T-Mobile digits despite calling them from a number not my own (it's hip to you trying to call yourself). The only other hiccup was with CallWave, which Rafe uses. He was tipped off to my call because CallWave lets you know when someone's calling your voice mail in-box.
To stay afloat, there are short advertisements before your calls are connected. I found it to be a little annoying, but not nearly as in your face as the ones on 1-800-FREE-411.There's also no sign-up required, you simply have to call 267-SLY-DIAL (759-3425) and have the number of the person you're calling on hand. In the future, the service plans to offer a software application that can take advantage of your phone's contact list to save you from having to remember people's numbers.
SlyDial is currently in "private beta" until June, and is for U.S. and Canadian phone customers only, although I no few problems getting it to work.
Related: Gmail's Custom Time April fools.