Working the Election? Phone Banking? Get A Free, Unlimited Burner

Today we announced that we are making Burner numbers available free of charge, on an unlimited-use basis, for all people who want them for the purposes of getting out the vote or otherwise supporting the election.

Thanks to all those working this important election season from Burner.

Thanks to all those working this important election season from Burner.

I'm beyond proud of how the Burner team dove into action on this, which all started literally yesterday when we read that the NYTimes was making itself free for election coverage and thought, "what a wonderful idea -- we should do something like that too".  In the course of half a day, the team spun up and shipped this, and we're all happy to share it.

I hope you will join me in sharing to social media channels, friends, and relevant influencers and politicos who might be interested.  As I am sure you know, turnout will be a key driver of the outcome of this election at the top of the ticket and down-ballot -- as will the work of those out there helping ensure fair and legal voting procedures are followed.  

No one should have to compromise their own privacy to do this kind of work, and we've actually had a number of requests for bulk numbers for electioneering.  This is now available for everyone -- and if using Burner helps a few people out there be less reluctant to participate in our great (if occasionally crazy) democracy, we will consider this a home run.

Thank you so much for your work.

Click here to get a free Burner number for Get Out The Vote & Election volunteers

Every Day Is a GIF with Burner 3.4: Now Updated for iOS10

A brand new release of Burner is hightailing it to the App Store right now. Who likes to stay up to date? We do. You do, too? Well, that’s why we get along so well.

The latest version of Burner includes some updates for iOS10, support for GIFs (I can hardly believe it!), and a few bug fixes, of course.

Sending a GIF in a message

Sending a GIF in a message

 

 

GIFs, the gift that keeps on giving

We now support sending and receiving GIFs in messaging. Add a GIF from your favorite GIF keyboard or upload one from photos on your phone. Say it with animation!

 

 

 

 

Burner Today View widget

Burner Today View widget

 

Your Burners at a glance in the Today View

Did you know you can add a Burner widget to the Today View on your iPhone? Our latest update delivers an improved preview of all your Burner numbers and their statuses. This is useful for finding your Burner numbers without opening the app or seeing how many minutes and texts you have left.

You can add or remove this widget using the circular “Edit” button from the bottom of the Today View.

 

 

Locations on the number picker

Locations on the number picker

Early releases of new features

We’re also rolling out some new features that may not reach everyone right away. You might spot them early and if you have feedback or questions, drop us a line at support@burnerapp.com.

Locations added to number picker
When you choose a phone number, you will now be able to see the city and state it’s associated with. For example, I only want Manhattan phone numbers. It’s easier to get a reservation at Babbo.

New tutorials  
For our newest members of the Burner community, we’re introducing some in-app tutorials to help you get your Burner set up. We’re not yet rolling them out for everyone, but if you’re a new user, look out for the new tutorials when you set up your first Burner.

More, better things

A few other improvements we made to the Burner app include:

Save SMS draft - When you’re writing a message and you don’t send it, it saves as a draft!
Improved timestamping - Timestamps now show at the minute you sent or received a message.
More stable colors - When you customize your Burner, the color sticks around even after a re-install. How grand!

Thanks for being a part of our community. Do keep us updated on how you’re using the app and what you think. See this post or hit us up on Twitter @burner.

 

 

Lifehacker: Five Useful Things You Can Do With a Burner Phone Number

Fantastic Burner rundown by Lifehacker's Patrick Allan! That and we're gonna need this graphic as an oil painting for the office!

Full story at Lifehacker.com

Burner featured in Lifehacker

Burner featured in Lifehacker

When you think of “burner” phone numbers, espionage and spies probably come to mind. But there are plenty of reasons regular folks would want a burner number, and a few apps, let you create as many as you need. Here are a few ways you can use a burner number professionally, to protect your privacy, and even kill text message spam.

Before you begin, you’ll need the right app for the job. Burner, available for iOS and Android, is the most popular, and the one we’ll reference most in this guide.
— http://lifehacker.com/five-useful-things-you-can-do-with-a-burner-phone-numbe-1787635006

Say Anything - We’re All Ears


The design team is kicking off an effort to spend more time listening to you, our beloved Burner community. Whether you’ve never used Burner before, you just started or you’ve been a longtime fan, we want to talk with you. Really, we’re all ears.

Here’s how the conversations work:

  1. Let us know you're interested in talking with us. You can do this by filling out the following form or send an email to Lex at lex@burnerapp.com with the subject “Let’s talk Burner.”

  2. We'll email you and find a 20 minute time slot that works for your schedule

  3. Then, we'll talk! We'll have a few questions for you and you can share your experience using the app.

 

We want to make Burner better and it all starts by hearing your thoughts - the good, the bad and the annoying. It’s fast, easy and painless (we hope). I’ll even send you my favorite lemonade recipe as a bonus! Wow, what a deal! 

Thank you in advance and don’t hesitate to reach out with any questions.

 

 

Ready for Android N with Burner 3.5 (plus GIFs!)

Burner for Android has been updated to take advantage of some exciting new features of Android N: Direct Reply for notifications and split screen Multi-Window support.

Improved Messaging 

Reply from the Home Screen

As you can see in the screenshots below, you can now reply to incoming text messages without leaving the home screen. Simply slide down the notification, tap reply, type your reply, and hit send. The notification updates inline, and you can see a few message back in the conversation in the notification tray.

GIFs and Smoother Animations

If you have a Picture or Subscription Burner, you can now express that perfect emotion or reaction with those brief animations we know as GIFs. This update also makes the messaging window animations smoother and more native-feeling.  

 
DroidDoes.gif
 

Multi-Window Mode

Burner now also supports Android's Multi-Window mode. You can have two apps either side-by-side in landscape mode or or one above the other in portrait mode. This allows you to have Burner running in one window while viewing a web page or composing an email in another.

 
 

Build Your Own “Smart Agent”: New Developer Tools, with Burner 3.3.1

Last week we launched Ghostbot (with our friends at Voxable) to give Burner users, particularly those in the dating sphere, a useful tool to deal with aggressive or unwanted texts.

This week, we’re releasing an update for our iOS and Android clients with several powerful new features under the hood that make the delegation of your communication needs easier than ever.

Burner 3.3.1 is also being released in conjunction with the Burner Developer portal. Now anyone can build smart agents or bots on top of Burner’s phone number platform.

MAKE YOUR OWN SMART AGENT OR BOT

As of today, anyone can build on top of Burner’s platform using webhooks to make “smart agents,” or bots (like Ghostbot), to handle any defined communication need.

If you want to learn how to build your own bot, you can walk through the process with Echobot. Echobot is a simple tutorial that will teach you to create a bot for your Burner number using incoming and outgoing webhooks. If you want to use Natural Language Processing from API.ai, it will also show you how to plug into their pre-made domains like small talk and language translation.

Another smart agent that’s now available for anyone to use is FAQbot. FAQBot, also created by Voxable, is an SMS bot that augments Burner's Slack connection by enabling an API.ai-powered agent to sit alongside the humans in your Slack channel. FAQbot responds automatically and intelligently to common customer service questions, but if a question comes in that the bot doesn’t know, a human in the Slack channel can respond from the same number. It’s a seamless customer service experience for the person on the receiving end of that customer service message.

Any developer can now configure FAQbot with your own customer service questions or a build brand new bot no one has ever heard of before. Head over to burnerapp.com/developer to get started.

If you haven’t connected Burner to your Slack team yet, we’re also listed in the Slack App Directory.

DELEGATE WITH CALL AND TEXT FORWARDING

Apart from bots, another way you can use Burner to help you handle communication in your life is with call and text forwarding.

Call forwarding is pretty standard on many networks and phone services. With today’s update, call forwarding for any Burner number now works as you would expect. You forward the Burner number, and it rings through to someone else’s phone.

The special sauce here is text forwarding. Our new text forwarding feature allows you to easily send Burner calls and texts to another phone and have someone else (like a business partner or team member) respond.

HOW TEXT FORWARDING WORKS

Here’s how our new text forwarding feature works:

  1. Someone texts you.

  2. The text automatically gets forwarded to the number you specified.

  3. The recipient can reply to the message using this syntax:

    @4321 thanks for the message

    Where “4321” is the last four digits of the number to be replied to.

This way, the recipient of the forwarded text can reply to multiple numbers without leaving the comfort of their chosen texting app. Replies go through the originating Burner number as not to compromise your friend or colleague’s personal phone number. And, of course, you can turn off text or call forwarding independently at any time, and see all of the forwarded correspondence in Burner.

This functionality opens up many possibilities for solopreneurs, teams, and small businesses to delegate or collaborate with phone numbers in a way that has never been possible until today.

 

OTHER ENHANCEMENTS WITH 3.3.1

Lots of Burner users are relying on Dropbox connections to archive important messages and communications, so we wanted to add support for Google Drive users as well.

Now you can (optionally) save your photos and voicemails to a Drive folder, in addition to the existing ability to save texts and contexts to Sheets.  And you can share them collaboratively with anyone who can access Google Drive.

A few other improvements worth noting in the 3.3.1 update:

  • Messages now have timestamps.

  • Your Burner details page now shows the exact time your number will expire instead of 30 days, 2 hours, etc.  Of course, if you have a Premium line, your number won’t expire at all ;-).

  • Tap on phone numbers in message bubbles for a quicker way to initiate calls or texts from your Burner.

  • Some harder-to-see burner colors have been removed.

  • Improved voicemail player.

As always we’ve also included some minor bug fixes and small performance improvements.

SMART, COLLABORATIVE, INNOVATIVE

Whether you are using a Burner as a long-term secondary business number, or as a quick temporary number for a two-week project or online sale, we see a lot of value in turning mobile phone numbers into more collaborative instruments that can be shared when required or kept personal and private when not.

We also see future innovation in businesses and teams by adding bots to phone numbers at the network level. We’re on a mission to make phone numbers smarter, and a minor release like this one takes major strides, but we’re also interested in seeing what kind of smart agents/bots our community developers with the new Burner Developer portal.

We’re looking for more bots to feature in our Developer portal. If you build a bot using our webhooks, make sure you tell us about the project by emailing support@burnerapp.com.

Say Hello to Ghostbot, a Smart Bot That Can Handle Your Unwanted Texts

Say hello to the latest innovation in open phone numbers.

We’re pleased to introduce Ghostbot, the witty text message autoresponder that anyone can add to Burner to handle unwanted, aggressive, or abusive texting situations.

Ghostbot is both a glimpse of the future and a small taste of what’s possible when the newly popular concept of “bots” converges with Burner phone numbers that are smart and open for anyone to build on.

Why Ghostbot?

Texting is a fun, convenient, and regular part of dating culture these days. But we’ve heard from many of our users—and we know from public conversation and the surging popularity of social media communities like @ByeFelipe—that unwanted, aggressive, and even sexually harassing texts are a real and growing problem.

So we partnered with Voxable, the bot makers, and Peter Miriani, a screenwriter, to build a smart, free utility for Burner to help keep people safe and free of unwanted advances.

No longer want to deal with someone? Aren’t sure how to exit gracefully? Don’t want to inflame the situation? Once you switch Ghostbot on, an intelligent agent will take over and handle aggressive, abusive, or otherwise don’t-want-to-deal-with-it texts for you with humor, effective disengagement tactics, and a touch of artistry.

Ghostbot is a glimpse into the future of phone numbers

In contrast to bot-of-the-day strategies that seem to be popping up everywhere, this is not just another way to order a pizza, call an uber, or "join the conversation" with your favorite millennial-targeted brand. Apps on Burner work for the user.

Ghostbot is an example of what kinds of things are in store for our users in the future. The tools we’ve built into our platform make the phone number smarter in ways that traditional carriers can’t (and won’t).

Best of all, anyone can build “bot” or agent-style applications that sit on top of Burner lines using the incoming and outgoing webhooks we built into Burner Connections.

We think Ghostbot is just a small taste of what's possible when intelligent agents are embedded into smarter communication tools. (Want to help us? We're hiring!)

Setting up Ghostbot

It’s simple.

  1. Visit the Ghostbot web page and activate Ghostbot on your Burner number (or create a free new Burner number now if you don’t already have one). You’ll want to download the Burner app as well, to manage other settings on the number and to use it with the people you don’t want to ghost.

  2. Select or add the contact(s) you want to ghost. 

  3. Wait for a message. When Ghostbot sees incoming texts from a person who has been “ghosted,” it runs a Natural Language Processing (NLP) engine to reply. After a variable delay, it replies to the message with one of many possible scripted responses: For example, “nope,” “I just have no time right now,” “sorry, I’m just completely overwhelmed with work,” or “sorry, just me and 🍕 tonight.” This continues until the conversation peters out and the texter gets the hint.

How Ghostbot works

Ghostbot is built atop a 3rd-party platform called API.ai that has been trained to understand some intents. It also learns from experience. For instance, Ghostbot can determine when a text is a “let’s do something” invitation, a “booty call”, a pick-up line, a proclamation, or a lewd comment, among others.

Ghostbot has a personality that stands in for you. It responds at random intervals with conversational and funny language so that it doesn’t feel like talking to a robot.

Here are a few examples of conversations with Ghostbot. (Ghostbot’s replies are on the left-hand side of the threads in the screenshots below.)

 

Ghostbot: a collaboration between Burner, Voxable Labs, and Peter Miriani

Ghostbot was developed in a collaboration with the fine bot builders at Voxable, and screenwriter/graphic novelist Peter Miriani. We like to think of it as one part practical solution, one part technology innovation, and one part art project.

A little bit more about our partners:

Founded by partners-in-business-and-life engineer Matt Buck and product designer Lauren Golembiewski, Voxable helps companies harness the power of conversational interfaces by designing and building innovative voice and chatbot experiences for their clients. Voxable’s mission is to help humans and machines better understand one another.

Peter Miriani has written numerous screenplays and graphic novels including "NSFW" and "The Luminous Aldous Spark," both currently in production. Additionally, Peter has over ten years of experience building information categorization and organization systems for search engine marketing and advertising businesses. He holds a Master's degree at USC's School of Cinema-Television. Ghostbot is his first bot.

Try Ghostbot for free

Since Ghostbot is built on Burner, our entire user community and anyone who wishes to sign up for a free-sample Burner number, can now access and use Ghostbot for free.

Get started at ghostbot.burnerapp.com.

We’re looking forward to hearing feedback from our community about Ghostbot—and other bots built using Burner’s open webhooks.

Text us at (310) 919-5060 and talk to the team directly in our Slack channel to convey your thoughts or share your project.

Stay safe.

Rolling Out a Stack of New Features and Smart Phone Capabilities with Burner 3.3

We’re on a mission at Burner – to build a better, smarter phone number.  

Today we’re rolling out a stack of features and updates, including a new Google Sheets Connection for text and contact exporting, a new-and-improved Slack Connection, exciting new VoIP and tablet capabilities, and a number of other enhancements including bulk message actions and an easier way to connect Burner to IFTTT and Zapier.

New Connection: Google

3.3_screen_google2.png

We’ve been thrilled by the response to our recently launched Connections platform (original blog post).  The best part of it is seeing how people use the various connections, in particular our Developer Connection – which lets users connect Burner to any webhook-enabled web service.  A number of people wanted to pump incoming Burner texts into Google Sheets, which they enabled via Zapier (recipe), so we decided to make that integration native.  

Now you can directly authorize a connection to Google from within Burner, and all incoming texts are automatically added to a new Sheet as they come in, with all new contacts being added to a separate tab.

We’ve overhauled our Slack Connection as well, affording greater control over how teams can use Burner from within Slack.  Now you can connect a Burner to a Slack channel (where any team member in the channel can see or reply) OR connect to Slackbot, which lets you use Slack as your personal texting client with Burner numbers.  We’ve also refreshed our commands around a “/burner” syntax.

Our users have been coming up with lots of interesting uses for the Slack connection, from customer service to public Q&A’s – and we think all companies interested in talking to customers by text should give this a try.   Hit us up with questions or comments at 310.919.5060 if you want to experience it yourself.  We’ll hit you back via our Slack 2.0 connection.

Finally, we’ve made it easier to connect Burner to IFTTT and Zapier – two services that let you create hundreds of custom recipes across dozens of services.  Want to flash the lights when you get a voicemail, or text your thermostat a new temperature setting? Just navigate in the app to the Developer Connection and you’ll find new links and walk-throughs.

In-App Calling, Powered by VOIP

Perhaps the biggest feature we’re rolling out starting today is a new capability allowing users to control whether calls come in and out via their underlying carrier phone (which is how Burner has historically worked) or calls are made and received within the app itself (via VoIP).  This lets users choose the call flow they prefer and makes Burner much more useful in wifi-only situations, on tablets, across multiple devices, and even internationally.

It's something many users have asked for, and we hope will love.

Burner In-app calling (VoIP) options are available today on Android and will be rolling out on iOS over the next few weeks.

 

 

OTHER NEW THINGS

Number Picker:  Now you can choose from a list of possible numbers and pick one that is easy to memorize. The devil may be in the details, but so is satisfaction.  You choose a local number that suits you, and isn’t that the way things should be?

Bulk delete and mark-as-read:  Many of us use Burner to avoid large numbers of unwanted calls and texts, all of which occupied inbox real estate and generated unnecessary “red ball” notifications on the app icon.  Now you can clear these with bulk actions that let you mark-as-read or delete large batches of messages.  (From within a line or the “recent messages” context, just pull down to see these options.)

Offline support:  Burner now offers better support for reading your messages offline too.

Of course these features join many others, including text auto-replies, bot replies, custom photo backgrounds and line colors, message reminders, and so much more.


We are building phone numbers from the future.  The future isn’t taking what you get and making do - the future is about choice, flexibility and utility.  We are relentless about bringing the future of phone numbers to our customers, and Burner connections,VOIP and the many improvement we’ve made to the latest version of Burner are collectively a big step forward. Check it out here.

 

Download Burner today!

Slack Integration for Mobile and a Dialer That Will Make You Say “WOW.”

The Slack Connection is one of our most popular, so we’ve included two small but important updates in this release (3.2.7).  As before, you can connect any Burner line to Slack, and inbound texts, pictures, and voicemails to that Burner will appear in the selected channel for everyone on the team to see and reply to. As a new option outbound texts sent from the mobile app, can now also be sent to Slack.  

Visiting the settings screen of your Burner number (click the gear icon). After you have connected Slack to your phone number the  above options will appear.

Visiting the settings screen of your Burner number (click the gear icon). After you have connected Slack to your phone number the  above options will appear.

We’ve also improved our handling of links emojis, and other formatted elements on outbound texts sent from Slack to another phone number. Yes, that is correct:  you can text people directly from slack, and you, or you and your team can see the results (choose wisely).

We’re also excited to announce the first in a series of updates centered around enhancing the way inbound and outbound calls work in Burner. The most noticeable change in 3.2.7 is a completely redesigned dialer, which we love the look of, and should be easier for those of you with small hands or big phones (or both!) to use, as we’ve positioned the keypad towards the bottom of the screen.  One beta tester’s response to the dialer was “wow,” and the whole Burner team loves a wow factor, so we are pretty happy. Try it out and have a guaranteed “wow” moment.

Underlying the new design of the Dialer is another big change that we’re keeping under wraps for now, but will start rolling out over the next few weeks. Stay tuned for more!

 

 

Revolution and Evolution in Mobile Messaging

 

At Burner we are always releasing features and bug fixes, but we don’t always talk about it. We tend to alternate between revolution and evolution. Today we are launching a new interface for texting, and one of its key features is the ability to view multiple lines when composing texts.  It is always feels good to make the product a little better, and to know that our customer experience is always improving.  


In all we will be releasing five new features (some are obvious and others harder to see) and nine bug fixes.  Improving Burner is a never-ending experience, and that is the way we like it.  Expect some significant new features in the coming months, but also relax and enjoy the little improvements that are being released regularly.

Click Here to Download Burner Today!

Fun with Webhooks: Text Us for A Chance to Win a Blink(1) Indicator

 

We decided to have a little fun with our Burner Developer Connection webhooks and the internet of things! We purchased some of ThingM's new blink(1) LED indicators for our team to play around with and test with phone numbers. These open-source lights were designed to give you glance-able notice of anything on your computer, the internet, and now: A PHONE NUMBER! It packs three dimensions of information (color, brightness, and pattern) into a single tiny package that fits into any USB port on nearly every device. So... Text us and tell us why you want one!

 

(310) 879-1899
All texts automated to a Google Sheet.
Winner selected noon PST Wednesday, December 23rd!

 

We won’t delve too deep into the specifics of our telephonic sorcery but it involves some basic online tools to put the internet (and phone numbers) to work for you!

Using IFTTT we created a Maker recipe for our blink(1). In doing so we created a webhook where our light flashed a certain color pattern based on a “triggered event.”

Burner_IFTTT_Blink1

 

Next, we used Zapier’s webhooks to automate entries on a Google Sheet. Zapier matches the data sent from my Burner phone numer to the corresponding fields in our Google sheet:

Burner_Zapier_Sheets

So we have now created two separate webhooks (one on IFTTT and one on Zapier) that we want to work simultaneously through a single triggered event (an inbound text to our Burner). Using Reflector.io, we are able to power multiple pass-thrus with a single webhook: 

Burner_Reflector_Blink1

Final step is to add the Reflector webhook URL to our Burner phone number's Developer Connection

And VOILA! So send us a text at (310) 879-1899 to add your entry to our random drawing. Good luck!

Burner_Blink1_Animated

Improving Burner's core privacy and identity features

It's been exciting to share the news about Burner Connections, which rolled out to both iOS and Android over the last month, enabling integrations between phone numbers and apps like Dropbox, Evernote, and Slack.  

The feedback has been great – and we'd love to hear more of your thoughts and ideas – but the Burner engineering team has not been sleeping on core Burner calling and texting features.  In the last few weeks we've also rolled out several new features and improvements we want you to know about.  Here's the rundown.

Call blocking

If you use Burner for a longer-term situation or for circumstances where you need to be in contact with a bunch of different people – which is probably the case if you're using our new Premium subscription option – you may find there's one person you want to disconnect with.  An extra-pushy salesperson while you're car shopping, or a no-longer-active customer or vendor, or maybe just someone with poor boundaries following up a little too persistently after a dud date.   

Now you can block callers (and texters) at the number level, so you no longer have to burn the whole line to accomplish that.  

  1. Go into the Conversation stream of the number you would like to block
  2. Click the CONTACT icon in the top right of the screen
  3. Select BLOCK
  4. Confirm you would like to BLOCK all incoming calls and texts from the offending phone number
  5. To UNBLOCK, follow the same steps and confirm you would like to unblock the number

 

Choose caller ID display

On a similar note, if you're using Burner for a situation where lots of different people might be calling, you may want to see the name of the caller, rather than the name of the Burner line, as the caller ID when you have an incoming call.  Now you have that option.

To enable it:

  1. Go to the SETTINGS of the Burner number you would like to enable
  2. On the DETAILS screen, hit the options button in the top right of screen (the three dots)
  3. Under Inbound Caller ID you can toggle between inbound calls as being from your Burner number or the caller ID of the caller

 

By the way, if you have this option enabled, and the inbound caller's number matches up with someone who's already in your phone's address book, your phone will display their complete contact info.  (If you return the call later, though, remember to use your Burner!).

 

Contacts improvements

Another consequence of people using Burners for longer-term situations is greater reliance on the contacts function being good.  We've been working on making this better -- among other things Burner now does a better job handling imported iPhone contacts with more than one phone number.

 

Subscription update

We've heard some feedback from users about our Premium subscription lines.  While we developed these primarily in response to user feedback that people wanted to keep numbers for a long time without risk of forgetting to renew them, we also heard that people may want to "rotate" their numbers occasionally.  So, our subscription offering now includes the ability to burn an active premium line and replace it with a new one, up to once a month at no extra cost.

All of the above are available today for both iOS and Android Burner users.  And we have more coming soon, so stay tuned.

In the meantime, got questions, ideas, or feedback?  Text us at (310) 919-5060 and talk to the team directly in our Slack channel.

 

Introducing the Burner Developer Connection

Last month, Burner released Connections, which are integrations between Burner phone numbers and third-party applications and services like Dropbox, Slack, and Evernote.  These connections enable great new capabilities for phone numbers, such as automatically archiving photo messages to Dropbox.

Today, Burner is releasing its Developer Connection, which users and developers can use to connect Burner to any number of applications, or to make new, custom applications, using something called webhooks.  

It’s a huge step forward for Burner toward becoming an open platform, and an important milestone in the journey toward smarter phone numbers for everyone.

Give us a shout at 323-391-4827 if you have comments, questions, or other feedback! That number is connected to our team Slack account and we'll be awaiting your texts!

What are webhooks?

Webhooks are a simplified version of the kinds of API’s that many applications use to talk to each other.  When something happens in one application that it wants to pass along to another application, the first application simply hits an URL with a basic POST command containing the information it needs to pass along.  The other application is always ready for that information and knows what to do with it.

Because they’re so simple and straightforward and avoid the complications of chattier integrations, many applications today use webhooks, from familiar consumer apps like Dropbox to speciality and business-to-business services like Github, Stripe, and Sendhub.  

There’s also a whole ecosystem of 3rd-party players emerging to help people set up, manage, and do things with the webhooks and the data they’re delivering, so there are lots of ways of handling webhooks for novices and technical pros alike.

How does Burner’s Developer Connection work?

The first feature of Burner’s Developer Connection is an outgoing webhook.  It lets a user specify a URL via the Burner app.  Once the webhook is enabled, then every time the user gets a text message, picture message, or voicemail, Burner will post to the details to that URL in a standardized format (see http://developer.burnerapp.com for more detailed information).

That URL can be another application with public-facing webhook URLs (these would be called incoming webhooks when issued by the other application). A developer or company can set up a custom URL just to take webhooks from Burner. Or a user can use any of a whole bunch of tools to handle the webhook, transform it if they want to, and pass it along to whatever other application they want it to talk to.

Do I need to be a computer programmer to use this?

Not at all.  An example of a very easy way to use the Burner Developer Connection would be through the application IFTTT (“If This Then That”).  IFTTT if a free-to-use service (and one we’re big fans of) that enables incoming webhooks via something they call the Maker Channel (https://ifttt.com/maker), which provides unique URLs a user can simply copy and paste into Burner.  Every time the Burner number gets a text, picture, or voicemail,  IFTTT will get the info and can pass it along into its hundreds of other applications via thousands of premade recipes, all of which are “no coding required”.

Zapier is another great service that accepts inbound webhooks from Burner and can point them to hundreds of other services in ways that are easy to customize.  

Between these two services alone, there are hundreds of things you can connect Burner to.

For example, you could set up a phone number that would add a new row to a spreadsheet for every text, add all incoming pictures to Google Drive, or automatically tweet everything that comes in.  You could set up a number that anyone can text to turn on the air conditioning via your Nest thermostat, or turn on your porch light, or add something to your to-do list.  You can create a new contact in your CRM, or add someone to your mailing list program every time a new person texts you.  And you can do all of this without doing anything more complicated than copying and pasting a URL.

Right now we have a recipe running at the office that flashes the Hue lights in our main conference room in different colors every time I get a text on a particular line.  Since I don’t program at all and I was the first person on the team to set something like this up, I think that’s proof it’s not that hard to use (though it’s definitely more entertaining to me than to my teammates).

With that said, if you’re not intimidated by peeking under the hood, you could also point Burner to a service like Reflector.io or Cloudpipes or ApiTools -- just a couple of examples of a whole set of tools that will take your incoming webhooks and set up all sorts of filters and splitters and conditional logic on them, and then point them on to something else.

So you could filter all your incoming messages and take the ones that are from one person and point them one place, and everyone else and point them another.  Or save them to a Google sheet only if they include the word “subscribe”.  Or whatever you want.

You can check out more examples and documentation at our developer website on github.

What are some of the things you can do with this, and why is it a big deal?

Some of the examples above – flashing the lights in the conference room and so on – may seem like novelties, but they illustrate the point that anything is possible.  You never know when a flashing light is going to be important to someone who’s on call at nighttime, or hearing-impaired.

We’ve heard from thousands of users that they’re using Burner to do things like taking signups for their dance studio classes, for managing events and projects, or for running their side businesses.  We also know that millions of people out there are literally running businesses off their T-mobile and AT&T phones.  We just made their lives easier in a whole bunch of different ways.

We’ve also seen a great early response from our native Connections -- Dropbox, Slack, Evernote, and Soundcloud -- and had lots of interest from other companies in being part of this too.  While we’re working on additional native Connections, the Developer Connection lets anyone play with this.

In this way we’re enabling the entire open web to innovate on top of Burner, and by extension, the phone network.  

Now anyone can create, for free, a phone number that acts as a live connection between hundreds of millions of mobile phones that can text, and thousands of applications that like to talk to other software.  For the first time, we’re treating a consumer phone number as software and letting anyone who wants to to build on top of it.  This is the whole point of open software platforms, and more than we could ever hope to build ourselves.

There’s great precedent for this kind of thing.  Gmail created a tremendous amount of value for its users by making its email app programmable, i.e. allowing 3rd-party developers to sit on top of it with added functionality, or to read and write to the data.  Slack is creating a similarly valuable ecosystem for teams and enterprises right now.  (It’s worth noting, by the way, that some of Slack’s first integrations were built with open webhooks, as is the whole backbone of their new “add to Slack” button that many developers are building on today.)

At Burner, we think that the phone number has been trapped in monopoly-carrier-land for far too long, and is overripe for this kind of innovation and the power that modern software can unleash.

What’s next?

We’re already working on additional developer features and new native connections as well.  

The first “next thing” we’re excited about, though, is to see what people build with our new Developer Connection.  We hope you’ll share your ideas, recipes, and feedback!

Burner Connections & Subscriptions Now Available On Android!

Burner Connections – which enables you to connect 3rd-party apps you love, like Dropbox, to your Burner numbers – has been very well received since we launched it on iOS just a couple of weeks ago. 

Burner users have been using Connections for all kinds of things, from promoting their music to running their startups.  We're very happy to be able to bring this to the Android platform, along with an update that includes a bunch of other improvements, including:

  • Premium lines – numbers you can subscribe to for unlimited calls/texts/pictures and automatic renewals
  • Caller blocking – block texts and calls by individual phone number
  • Android M (Marshmallow) support
  • Lots of enhancements and improvements

Subscriptions is something that many of our users have been asking for, and we're happy to oblige.  No longer will you have to remember to renew Burners, and as a bonus you get unlimited calls, texts, and pictures for one low price.

We think our new Android version looks fantastic – see the gallery below.  You can also check out our launch video and post for an overview of Connections.  

We hope you'll love it too and can't wait to what things you come up with in using Connections.

Download the latest version of Burner for Android here.

Iration: “Hotting Up” with Burner Connections & Soundcloud

Iration_2015_web.jpg

Overview

Iration is an alternative/reggae group out of Santa Barbara, CA. Their latest album, Hotting Up, recently debuted #1 on Billboard Reggae. To coincide with the release of the new album, they wanted to build a fan promo while sourcing album feedback.

Using Burner’s Soundcloud Connection, Iration were able to set up a phone number that fans could call to leave messages sharing their favorite songs from the new album.  The messages would be automatically uploaded to Soundcloud, where the band could review, make a playlist of interesting content, and picks 3 winners of pairs of tickets to an upcoming show.

Launch Dates

Sept 11-14th, 2015

 

Process

  1. Create a Burner phone number for the desired area code

  2. Personalize the Burner line with a photo and the voicemail greeting with a call to action

  3. Authorize the Soundcloud Connection to the new Burner phone number

  4. Set Auto-upload to Private, so we could preview

  5. Promote the number across social networks inviting users to call & leave voicemails

  6. Users call & leave voicemails; Burner auto-uploads to your account

  7. Review posts, curate a playlist, and post/re-share

Social Posts (805) 918-5999

 

Results

The band received 100 quality fan voicemails about the new album. In the process they were also able to get a better understanding of the fan favorites (“Lost and Found,” “867,” and “Reelin”), which they were also able to combine with other data to build their case for radio play.

(“Reelin” is the 1st single off the album currently spinning on multiple radio stations across the country. “867” is actually in position to be the next radio single. “Lost and Found” is the reggae track that they knew would be among the fan favorites.)

The band narrowed down their top 10 fan voicemails to make a Soundcloud playlist, which they of course shared to their fans there as well as through other social media channels.

They also selected three fans to win pairs of tickets to the upcoming shows of their choice.

Collectively, the promotion generated a significant amount of fan content, user insights, audience engagement, and social media reach for a relatively trivial investment of effort and a with a very simple setup.

 

Iration’s Hotting Up Burner Fan Messages - WINNERS

Feedback

Burner Connections for Soundcloud and Dropbox was SEAMLESS and beyond easy to set up and manage. The band set the Burner’s ringer to OFF and just watched the notifications come through indicating voicemails and messages uploaded to Soundcloud.

Next Steps

In addition to the Soundcloud Connection, Iration also implemented the Burner Dropbox Connection. The band has all the voicemails saved for archival purposes and also created a folder for the best messages. They will text all the fans back who actually called and left messages (since they have a record them and phone numbers).

Iration are working on the next Burner Soundcloud promos around their upcoming nationwide tour dates.

Hello? It’s The Future – your phone numbers are here!

Introducing Burner Connections - connect your phone number to Dropbox, Evernote, Slack, SoundCloud, and more to follow.

Introducing Burner Connections - connect your phone number to Dropbox, Evernote, Slack, SoundCloud, and more to follow.

***UPDATE: Burner Connections is now available on Android!

We’re running our lives almost entirely through the phone these days.  SMS has become the new email, with more important communications than ever going through that inbox.  And we each have a constellation of software and apps we use in our everyday lives that you might call our “personal OS”. 

But phone numbers have remained static and one-dimensional. While our devices and operating systems keep getting smarter, carrier-issued phone numbers, with their basic calling and texting features unchanged in years, have failed to keep pace.

Today we’re introducing Burner Connections, an innovative new platform that enables phone numbers to be smarter, do more, and connect better to the rest of your stack.  This is a major step for us as we evolve from thinking about Burner numbers as a privacy tool to thinking of them as next-generation phone numbers that empower our users to take control of their identity, privacy, and productivity.  

Along with Connections come a number of other new features, including much-requested premium subscription lines.

Introducing Burner Connections

You’ve heard of apps for your phone… Burner Connections are like apps for your phone number. Connections let you link phone numbers to other applications you love, enabling them to do things they couldn’t do before, like sharing voicemails, automatically saving picture messages, letting your whole team answer text messages, or even creating your own SMS bot.

Here, watch an overview:

 

The four integrations we’re rolling out today are:

  • Slack, which allows you to set up a phone number whose incoming messages will be routed to any channel you want, and which anyone in the channel can reply to

  • Dropbox, which auto-archives voicemails and picture messages (both in- and out-bound) to your Dropbox

  • Evernote, which lets you use the Evernote notebook UI to set up your own SMS bot — each note’s title acts as a text command that returns the contents of the note

  • Soundcloud, which auto-posts voicemails to your Soundcloud account and is great for creative and content-generation use cases.

 

Let’s take a deeper look at Dropbox - a Connection with use cases ranging from personal to business. Once you log in and authorize your account, Burner automatically creates a folder in Dropbox that will save a copy of every voicemail and picture message you receive as long as the Connection on your Burner number is toggled to “ON.”  Archive those sweet happy birthday messages from your relatives, or share business-related pictures with a colleague… whatever your need, your phone number is no longer an island separate from the rest of your software.

Read more about our Dropbox Connection.

 

The Slack Connection is really cool - one that we see a huge amount of potential for in the workplace. When you connect Slack to your Burner number, all incoming texts and voicemails are routed to the designated Slack channel. And anyone in the channel can reply from within Slack.  It’s a great way to have an office or team phone number that multiple people can monitor, and a simple way to extend the team workflow to include text messages.

Read more about and test out our Slack Connection.

 

Evernote might be the most exciting of our Connections – it lets you build an SMS auto-response bot. Say you’re a musician, an Airbnb host, or a teacher, and people often text you with the same questions. When you connect your Burner number to Evernote using Connections and choose an Evernote notebook, Burner magically turns your number into a bot that anyone can text.  The title of each note acts as a command, and Burner will instantly reply to texts with the contents of the note.  You can even customize a welcome greeting for first-time visitors to your bot.

Read more about our Evernote Connection.

 

The Soundcloud Connection is still in the experimental stage and was built to show the power of social networks and SMS when combined. Once you setup the Connection, any voicemail you get on your Burner number will be automatically shipped over to your Soundcloud page and converted into an audio track on your profile. You can set these to be private or public by default. Check out how one band is using the Soundcloud Connection to power fan engagement here..

Read more about our Soundcloud Connection, try it out for yourself, and check out a case study.

 

Burner Premium lines

More and more members of the Burner community use their numbers for business and other important projects. So much so that longer-term, auto-renewing Burners have been one of our most-requested features. So we’re really happy to be releasing Burner Premium today as well.

Not only will your Burners auto-renew without your having to remember to buy credits and renew your line on an ongoing basis, but you’ll also get unlimited calls, texts, and picture messages for a great low price. Subscriptions will start at $4.99 a month and will be managed through iTunes in-app purchases.

Of course you can still buy and renew Burners in various a-la-carte configurations if you prefer to, and you can “burn” a Premium line any time just like any other Burner.

 

Search, Photos, and More

Got a conversation going with a colleague, but can’t remember whether an important piece of info is an email, Facebook, or Burner thread? Well now you can find it easily.

The newest version of Burner takes advantage of a great new capability introduced in iOS 9.  You’ll now be able to search your active Burner conversations from anywhere on your phone, by pulling down the Spotlight Search bar.

Finally, we’ve introduced new options for customization that let you upload your own background header photo to any Burner line. Alongside being able to customize the color, we think this is a really nice way to map your phone “identity” to whatever project you’re using it for, and to keep multiple Burner lines differentiated in ways that make sense to you.

Hello?  Is it me you're looking for?

Smarter phone numbers that are free and nearly free, that you can get on demand and that act like software, being programmable and connected to the rest of your stack. And you don’t have to go through a carrier to get them.  We’re pretty sure this is what the future of the phone network looks like .

We can’t wait for you to check out the new Burner and hear how you’re using Connections, and what improvements you'd like to see.  Please let us know in the comments, on Twitter via @Burner, or in the Burner team's text-enabled Slack channel at (323) 457-5241.

 

More on Burner Connections:

 

Introducing Burner 3.0 for Android

We’re excited to announce that we’re launching a brand new look and feel for Burner on Android! This is our biggest design update for Android and builds upon a ton of feedback that we’ve heard from customers. The goal is always to make Burner the easiest way to stay in touch with people without compromising your personal information or phone number, and we think Burner 3.0 does just that. Here are some of the highlights:

Unified Inbox

Managing more than one number in Burner just got much easier! With the unified inbox you can view and respond to all of your recent conversations from different Burner numbers in one place. To help you stay organized, we now give each of your Burners a unique color, so when you’re viewing conversations quickly in the inbox, you know exactly which Burner someone is contacting you through. If you ever need to go through your older messages, or you only want to view the messages on one of your Burners you can easily filter by that Burner and view your entire history.

Material Design

Again, this is our biggest design update for Burner. You’ll see the use of colors, animations and transitions throughout the app, fully embracing material design principles. Navigation and design patterns should feel familiar and blend right into your workflow with all the apps you love!

Android Wear

We know that our customers are busy, managing work and personal lives and anything we can do to make Burner more accessible when you’re on the go is huge win! Burner now supports use with your smartwatch so you can quickly view your notifications and messages and respond in an instant with voice commands.

Stay tuned

This is just the beginning of a ton of new features that will be coming to Android so stay tuned and connect with us on Facebook and Twitter to get all the latest news!

 

Burner Profiles: The Tie Haberdashery

This week we caught up with Samantha Gold of The Tie Haberdashery, a local business in Los Angeles that specializes in vintage ties from the 1920s to the 1990s.

Samantha started using Burner as a business line to help keep her personal information private and to be able to control the amount of access her clients and customers have to her. She has not just one, but two business lines for The Tie Haberdashery: one is a customer service line that she posts on the website and online store; the other she uses as her personal business line that she can put on business cards and share with her contacts. She has six burners total. Like most entrepreneurs, she’s always hustling so she also works as an inside sales rep and has burners for that, along with a  Craigslist Burner and one for dating.

Burner Hack

One of the issues Samantha ran into after she started using Burner, was that customers began texting her. Some business owners like texting with customers, others like Samantha don’t. If you’re like Samantha, there are a couple of easy ways that Burner can help!

On my business lines I wish I wasn’t able to get text messages...I don’t like getting text messages about business, I like getting phone calls and emails.

First, you can always turn off text notifications in the settings menu. Notification settings are unique to each Burner, so you can have text notifications turned off on your business Burner, but leave them on for your Craigslist Burner.

Second, with the newest iOS version you also have the option to set up an auto-reply message on each of your Burners. The auto-reply feature is super handy when you’re on vacation or during non-business hours when you’re not going to respond immediately, or in Samantha’s case, setting a message that lets her customers know that she doesn’t respond to texts and that they should give her a call instead.

Check out the video for the full interview to hear more about The Tie Haberdashery and how Burner can help you run your small business.


SMS apps, organized!

Recently there have been a number of services launched that primarily use an SMS interface.  I personally love checking these things out because they are typically easy to set up, and the text-only interface is very low overhead.  Product Hunt hosts a couple of decent collections of the more up-and-coming text-based apps.

I started using one of my Burner numbers to sign up for these services because I didn't really want to give my personal number out, but I found that by having my Burner linked, there was a cool side effect: all the new apps were put in one place, clearly separated from my increasingly messy Messages app.

Here are a couple of the services I've been using with my SMS Apps Burner:

Digit.  Digit is kinda this financial service thing that will automatically take money from a linked checking account and save it in a Digit account.  The idea here is to use a non-human thing (algorithm) to track how much you've been spending and earning, and dynamically transfer a sensible amount of cash into your human savings account so you can spend it later on something like a pair of skis, or your debilitating student loans.  Digit sends me a text message every day to my Burner number with my current checking balance and how much it's transferring to my savings.  Easy!  I can send the service commands like "Recent" to see recent transactions on my checking account, or "Withdraw" to transfer money back from my savings to checking.  Yes!

Sensay.  This is a new Los Angeles (!!!) based service that just recently launched.  It works a lot like the old Instant Messaging bot Aardvark.  In fact, it's exactly the same, but uses SMS instead of AOL or whatever.  I text Sensay with a question using my Burner, then the service sends the question out to another member of the Sensay community for a quick answer.  The answer comes back to Burner in a separate thread, so I can talk to the complete stranger on the other end with follow up questions or what they think of the Dodgers' pitching rotation.  That kind of thing.

GoButler.  Similar to Magic.  Much of the time I’m looking to buy craft beer, because I live in a hipster-friendly neighborhood of Los Angeles and I’m playing to type.  Even though I already know what the best beer store is (tie between Cap’n Cork Jr. Market and Bill’s), I wanted to test this service out by asking, via sms, what the best place to buy beer in LA was.  GoButler responded within a few seconds with a place called Remedy Liquor.  Being untrusting of Algorithms in general, I did some research into GoButler’s recommendation, and it seems totally wrong but hey, B+ for effort.  The GoButler bot Lisa seems like a nice person, but I’m happy to have the ability to sever ties completely if things start getting weird.

With so many texting-based apps out there, having the ability to partition these services in Burner is a pretty cool hack.  Most of the apps mask the phone number you are texting from, so from a privacy perspective, Burner isn’t the key value-add here (unless you believe these services are collecting the information, but I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt).  However, the ability to manage a Sensay thread outside of my messages app, for instance, is rad.  I’m increasingly wanting to keep my personal stuff in a tidy little place, protected from all the outside noise, and it’s a lot more fun to manage a conversation with a complete stranger in a separate place.  There’s also something cool about rolling these services up in one place and creating a little wrapper around each that makes them more compelling than they might be on their own.