Burner Gets Contact Muting, Photos, and Notes

Released today for iOS and Android, Burner 3.6.1 introduces fine-grained controls for muting, as well as adding photos and notes to Contacts.

Now it’s easier than ever to keep track of and manage conversations with friends, business colleagues, and casual acquaintances.

We hope you enjoy these improvements!

Mute a Contact

This update introduces the ability to Mute contacts one by one. Muting prevents notifications from firing when a specific person messages you. Incoming calls from a muted contact don’t ring through to your phone. You’ll still be able to access messages and missed calls and voicemails from a muted number as normal.

Mute serves a different purpose than the ability to Block a contact, which we’ve had for a while. Blocking mutes and hides all calls and messages sent from a specific number—use Block when you no longer want contact with a person, but don’t want to burn the Burner. Use Mute when you want to filter out their notifications without turning off all notifications for the line.

Muting a contact

Contact Photos and Notes

You’ll find two new fields on the Contact details screen:

Photo: Upload an image from your library for anyone in your Contact list.

Notes: You can take free-form notes in this field, such as where or how you met a person or other details like email and address.

Keep in mind that if you delete a contact, notes and photos will be deleted as well.

Add notes and images to a contact

Improved Notifications

For those of you using prepaid lines, the time frame in which the Burner app notifies you of lines that are close to expiration has been improved.

Users will now be notified as early as 5 days out that a Burner line is about to expire. That way you will have more notice if you need to extend your line, and less chance that the prepaid number will expire before you have a chance to do so.

Push notification from Burner

Copy Your Burner Number from the Inbox

For Android users, we’ve made it easier to find your Burner numbers right in the inbox. You can see and copy your number in one tap just by opening the app. This is coming soon on iOS.

Copy your Burner number from the inbox

Other Accessibility Alignments

Finally, in addition to some small performance updates and bug fixes, we improved some of our labeling in the inbox and throughout the app to improve accessibility for our customers using screen readers with Burner.

Need phone lines for the long term, for a side project or business? Consider upgrading to a Burner subscription (tap this link on your phone, and it will open to the offers screen in the app). You can have up to three auto-renewing lines, unlimited calls/texts/pics, robocall blocking on all lines, and more.

Most of the improvements to Burner are built in response to your feedback and requests, so we look forward to hearing your thoughts. If you have feedback or questions about Burner or today’s updates, feel free to email us at support@burnerapp.com.

Grow Your Art, Brand, or Business with Burner Connections

One of the most underutilized—yet highly effective—ways to use Burner is as a platform to engage directly with your fans. On top of giving you a dedicated number for your audience, Burner has a number of features and tools that can help you drive engagement.

Used and loved by podcasters, musicians, artists, and businesses, Burner’s smart phone numbers allow you to speak to your fans, take listener feedback, and crowdsource content—without exposing your personal phone line.

Burner’s Connections are integrations with well-known apps like Google Drive, Dropbox, and SoundCloud that help you automate aspects of this process. Collect and save photos or voicemails from users, collaborate with teammates, and more.

The people you engage with and the content you create with Burner could be a valuable path to growth. Our team put together a short tutorial to show you how it all works.

Let us know on Twitter when you get set up, so we can give you a little boost. We love to see the innovative ways our customers are using Burner to make genuine connections with people.

How an Interior Designer Uses Burner for Business

Burner Interviews

Meet Katie Smith, an interior designer based in California. She runs a freelance interior design consultancy called The Design Smith, works remotely, and strives to maintain a healthy work life balance.

Katie relies on Burner’s phone numbers for her business, using them to communicate with her clients, store important photos and information, and protect her personal information. If you’d like to watch the interview in full, audio and video versions are embedded below.

Tools for Designers

As an interior designer, Katie is pretty comfortable with technology. Her suite of tools for her design work revolve around visual design tools like CAD, and several means of effective communication.

“I use my CAD programs for design,” Katie told me in our short interview. “I use Pinterest a lot to convey ideas back and forth. Obviously we use email and video chatting. And then I love my Burner app, I use that every day.”

Katie Smith of The DesignSmith

Communication is Key

Effective design work relies almost as much on good communication as it does on visual design skills. Katie has both in spades, and it was interesting to hear how she communicates visual concepts to her clients.

Katie uses the Burner app to send photos to, and receive photos from, her clients when they’re trying to decide on a certain style or decoration for the room she’s designing. And while she does speak to them on the phone or over video calls, Katie’s communication happens primarily over text and picture messages once a project gets under way.

Photos of Katie's work. Bathroom remodel

Using Burner Connections for Peace of Mind

Katie also uses the Dropbox and Google Drive Connections in Burner to sync and store an archive of communications for her clients. Dropbox syncs all the photos her clients send to organized folders in the cloud, where she can easily access them if needed, and where they’re safely backed up.

She uses the Google Sheets option for the Google Drive Connection to log text messages. Katie called it a “security blanket,” a metaphor we appreciate.

“It is invaluable to be able to go back and have something in writing,” Katie says, “that says this is what we decided on.” In a long, expensive design process like remodeling a house, a lot of decisions get made, and these decisions can have a huge impact on the end result.

Professionals Draw Clear Boundaries for Their Work

Katie is very passionate about her work, but she knows it’s not only passion that makes her successful. Discipline also plays a role.

One decision that enabled her success—and a piece of advice that all freelancers and remote workers can apply in their own job—is to set clear boundaries and use methods and tools like Burner to achieve a healthy work life balance.

“And for me, being able to have a separate phone number and not carry two phones with me was an amazing way to do that. So that's been fantastic.”

Thanks for sharing your habits and tools with us, Katie! We’re happy to hear that Burner has played a small but significant role on your journey to building a successful design business.

Interview with Katie Smith, Interior Designer

Audio interview on SoundCloud:

YouTube video of the same interview:

Transcript of Katie’s Interview

Matt: Hi everyone! I'm here talking to Katie Smith, a residential designer who runs her own business, The Design Smith. She also does interior design work and creates blueprints and plans for new homes. Welcome Katie, how are you doing today?

Katie: I'm good, how are you?

Matt: Great! So before we get started, I'd love to hear a bit about your background. How did you become an interior designer?

Katie: I stumbled upon it when I was going through school, taking basic classes for General Ed. And I ended up taking a design class that was really a lot of fun, and I had never considered it as a career choice. The more classes that I took, the more that I realized I really loved doing design and was surprised I could do something that fun as a career choice!

So I majored in it in college. I did some independent study work on eco-friendly design and more green interiors, so I have a little background in that. From that point on, every place that I worked, I gained a little more knowledge in this or that...so I also became a certified kitchen designer and a certified bath designer. And it snowballed and turned into what it is.

Matt: So what's it like working for yourself as opposed to a larger firm? Do you work with clients every day and do you work with other teams and architects?

Katie: I've done both. When I first started out, I worked at firms or with other designers. That's interesting because with their experience you gain so much insight and knowledge into how things are done. That experience is invaluable. But a lot of times when you put several creative people together there are definitely creative differences. So I enjoy working for myself now that I have the background and knowledge to move forward with larger design projects on my own.

So I do like working for myself. And now that I'm a mother, it's great to be able to work from home and take care of my kids, and do work. So I don't see clients every day, but that's by choice. It works really well.

Matt: So since you're working remotely, working from home, apart from using CAD what other technology do you rely on to communicate with people?

Katie: I use my CAD programs for design. I use Pinterest a lot to convey ideas back and forth. Obviously we use email and video chatting. And then I love my Burner app, I use that every day with them.

Matt: Some people might say that in a world powered by email and chat apps, like Messenger and Slack, that phone-to-phone communication isn't as important anymore. Based on your experience, how would you respond to that?

Katie: I do use text more frequently than I actually use voice calls. Emails are nice when I have more information to convey or attachments. But for the most part I use texts and text photos back and forth. That seems to be my primary method of communication.

Matt: What advanced features do you use in Burner, if any?

Katie: I use the Dropbox feature to save voicemails and to save photos that are texted by my clients. And then I also use the Google function that you can save the texts.

Matt: Yeah

Katie: I'm sorry! I don't know what it's called off the top of my head. But that's super useful. In the past, when I was just using my regular phone number, I really wished I could have saved texts or had some sort of way to archive them for business purposes—and there is no way. And so when I found that you could do that with the Burner app it was fantastic.

Matt: We just call it the Google Drive Connection that allows you to save contacts and text messages to Sheets. So what does that look like, your workflow with the Dropbox Connection and the Google Drive Connection. Once you get the voicemails and the photos or the text messages, what do you do with them afterwards?

Katie: For the most part, I don't necessarily have to go back to them to reference them all the time. But in a business like mine where people are making decisions...there's a lot of money involved and there are a lot of decisions being made. So if somebody makes a decision and forgets about, it is invaluable to be able to go back and have something in writing that says, this is what we decided on.

Or sometimes they just forget. I haven't remodeled my house—hopefully some day!—but when you're doing an entire house sometimes they just forget. And it is great to be able to have that to go back and reference. But on a daily basis I wouldn't say that I access it all the time. It's more like a security blanket.

Matt: Yeah, peace of mind, absolutely. So you use Burner to keep your personal and your work life separate. Do you ever use Burner for personal stuff?

Katie: Right now it's just my second line for work. Before I got married I tried running my own business, and having my clients call my cell phone at all hours and not necessarily being able to tell who was calling really was disruptive. So when I decided to do my own business I promised my family that I would take every step to keep it to Monday to Friday, 8 to 5, and keep it separate from our personal lives. So it has been perfect for that.

And now that my kids are getting older and making phone calls, I can see how it would be really helpful. We don't have a land line, and they're not quite old enough to have their own phone, so I can see how it would be an inexpensive for them to have their own phone number that they can use to keep it separate from my information.

Matt: And to protect them.

Katie: Yeah, definitely.

Matt: As a freelancer, do you have any recommendations for other creative professionals who are doing what you're doing—to start their own business, to work with clients in that way?

Katie: I think that the most important thing—and I also learned it from other individuals in my field that work on their own—was to set clear, divisive boundaries between your work and your personal life. Including setting your own schedule and abiding by it.

I let my clients know that if there is an emergency, if there's something that's super important, I'm not going to ignore you call. Just let me know. But outside of that, those are my family hours. So I would recommend, to be successful, that you also preserve that time for yourself and your family.

And for me, being able to have a separate phone number and not carry two phones with me was an amazing way to do that. So that's been fantastic.

I also do the same thing in my house—I have a separate area where I work and that's all that happens there. Working from home, it can kind of get a little tricky sometimes. You'll want to work on your bed, or out in the living room. It sort of works well to compartmentalize it and to have those boundaries and say, this is what this is for and at this time it's over.

My first time around I didn't do very well with that, the second time around I was much more successful.

Matt: Well thank you Katie, it was great to hear about your experiences, that was great.

Why a Licensed PI Uses Disposable Phone Numbers at Work

Burner for Business Phone Numbers - Interviews

When we started planning the release of our more flexible, multiple Burner subscription options for professionals that were released last week, we thought it would be interesting to also showcase some of our most compelling customers, people who are using multiple Burners and rely on Burner numbers and our commitment to personal privacy to help run their business.

The first person we thought of was Marc Bourne, a cyber intelligence expert and licensed private investigator from the Know It All Intelligence Group. His expertise has been featured on ABC News, Fox Business, and Marc Cuban’s Cyber Dust app.

Marc Bourne - Burner User and Cyber Intelligence Expert

More importantly, the company he co-founded is a “premier corporate and legal investigative services firm,” and he, his clients, and his licensed private investigators rely on Burner in their work to protect themselves and their clients.

“I love Burner,” Marc told me in a short interview (audio and video embedded below). “I think that Burner app is one of the greatest inventions. We use it on a daily basis in almost every aspect of our investigations.”

Using Burner to Stay Organized

When I inquired about Marc’s ideal setup, he told me that not only does it help protect his personal information, but it also keeps him organized. “Usually, we will create a separate Burner number for every investigation that we're doing. This helps keep our investigators organized with who they are speaking to in regards to a specific investigation and who is calling them back.”

More Flexible Business Phone Lines

How Carrier Numbers Expose Your Personal Information

I was also very interested in the chance to dig into how carrier phone numbers can expose people’s personal information. At Burner, we often encounter people who have no idea that their personal information has probably already been exposed through nonchalant usage of their carrier phone number online.

Marc’s background in cyber intelligence gives him unique insights into this danger.

Matt: As a cyber intelligence expert, can you tell us a little bit about how carrier phone numbers—which are the numbers that the carrier assigns to someone when they give them a phone plan—are associated with public and private records of people's personal information?

Marc: It's very interesting, and it's more publicized than most people know. If you have a regular phone number from any one of the top cell carriers, I can usually find subscriber information in just a matter of minutes. Prepaid phones, it's a little bit harder. Apps like Burner, it's virtually impossible to find subscriber information because of it being such a private app and using disposable phone numbers.

But you also have to look at marketing. Every time you go to a supermarket and apply for these reward cards, the first thing they ask you for is your phone number. The next thing you're doing is getting all kinds of bulk commercial mail, advertisements, they're getting your email address—which, that's another story is they can grab that kind of information from your cell phone number.

When you use Burner, you're completely cutting that off. You're completely limiting the marketing, you're completely limiting the advertising people will do because they don't know who that number belongs to so they can't sell that information to third parties who then prey on people to try to sell them things.

Thanks for taking the time to speak to us, Marc. We’re proud to be your number one provider of temporary and disposable phone numbers to protect you and your clients.

Visit Marc’s website to see more of his excellent interviews at PrimeTimePI.com.

Interview with Marc Bourne, Cyber Intelligence Expert

Audio on SoundCloud:

YouTube video of the same interview:

Transcript of Marc’s Interview

Matt: Marc is a licensed private investigator and cyber intelligence expert, and he's the vice president and co-founder of the Know It All Intelligence Group, a national investigative services company based in Philadelphia, PA. Before we get started, can you just tell us a little bit about your background? How did you get into private investigation and cyber intelligence?

Marc: I've always been curious about investigation, security, law enforcement. Growing up, I wanted to get into law enforcement. Then as I started working in the security and investigative end, I saw that there was a complete industry in the private sector that pretty much dealt with the same thing that police and law enforcement agencies deal with on a daily basis. So it was at that time that I decided to take that road down the private sector.

Know It All Intelligence Group is entering its eighteenth year this year for all types of investigations. Business to business investigations, as well as private, personal investigations such as missing persons, cheating spouses, insurance fraud, stolen items—you name it, we do it.

Matt: So we're here today to talk about Burner. How do you use Burner, specifically, in your job?

Marc: First of all, Matt, I've got to tell you—I love Burner. I think that Burner app is one of the greatest inventions. We use it on a daily basis in almost every aspect of our investigations.

Usually, we will create a separate Burner number for every investigation that we're doing. This helps keep our investigators organized with who they are speaking to in regards to a specific investigation and who is calling them back in regards to a specific investigation.

We utilize some of the virtual phone numbers for what we call pre-texting, which is an investigative industry term that basically means that we hide our identity when we call places to obtain information. For instance, if I knew you were in Maryland for a conference, and I started calling around to hotels to try and find you, I would use a Burner number so that my number couldn't be traced back to our investigative firm. We utilize that when we're making certain deals on Craigslist, when we're searching human trafficking, things like that. So Burner really plays an important part in our everyday investigations.

Matt: So it protects you and it protects your clients.

Marc: Yes, absolutely.

Matt: Are there cases where you have your clients set up a Burner number, too?

Marc: Yeah. In cases where people are looking for privacy, we have had a couple instances where some of our clients are adult webcam actresses and actors, and they want to keep their private life completely separate from their webcam life. They have come to us for consultation when their personal life has gotten exposed. So the first thing we tell them is get a Burner app, make sure that anything you use for your professional life is on the Burner app. Any phone numbers that you're giving our for your private life, that can be your personal phone number. Along with any other security tips that we give them. Yes, we definitely recommend Burner to all of our clients that are seeking privacy.

Matt: So as a way to separate your personal life and your work life, and as a way to protect your personal information.

Marc: Yeah, absolutely.

Matt: As a cyber intelligence expert, can you tell us a little bit about how carrier phone numbers—which are the numbers that the carrier assigns to someone when they give them a phone plan—are associated with public and private records of people's personal information?

Marc: It's very interesting, and it's more publicized than most people know. If you have a regular phone number from any one of the top cell carriers, I can usually find subscriber information in just a matter of minutes. Prepaid phones, it's a little bit harder. Apps like Burner, it's virtually impossible to find subscriber information because of it being such a private app and using disposable phone numbers.

But you also have to look at marketing. Every time you go to a supermarket and apply for these reward cards, the first thing they ask you for is your phone number. The next thing you're doing is getting all kinds of bulk commercial mail, advertisements, they're getting your email address—which, that's another story is they can grab that kind of information from your cell phone number.

When you use Burner, you're completely cutting that off. You're completely limiting the marketing, you're completely limiting the advertising people will do because they don't know who that number belongs to so they can't sell that information to third parties who then prey on people to try to sell them things.

Matt: Do you have any other recommendations or tips for people about how to use your number safely online or in person?

Marc: The one thing I try to stress to college students is get a Burner number. With a lot of this online dating, meeting people in the bar scene, college girls have no clue about privacy and safety. They're not thinking of that. They go to bars, they have that false sense of security, and unfortunately sexual assaults in colleges are happening on a regular basis. And what we've seen is that people are getting information just by a phone number. You meet somebody at a bar and you give them your phone number...you can go online and pay $10 to these online companies and they can get a ton of information off of your phone number.

When you're meeting somebody for the first time and there may be a potential romantic interest, give them your Burner number. That way, if you're not feeling it you can delete or Burn the number and be done with it. Eventually, if things kick off you can give them your personal number. But I always stress that in the online dating scenes, Burner app is essential for safety when meeting new people as well.

Matt: Awesome, that's really great information. Thanks, Marc. I don't really have any more questions. Is there anything else you want to add?

Marc: Like I said, I just love the Burner app. I can't wait to seeing the upgrades that you guys keep coming up with it. It's a great app.

Hustle Harder with More Flexible Burner Subscriptions

We’ve had many productive conversations with customers who rely on Burner to make their living. These incredible people are entrepreneurs, freelancers, innovators, and networkers.

What all of our power users have in common is a need for more than one phone number to help them manage multiple side projects, or run a business, or manage complex social lives.

Their hustle is beyond question, but they also value their privacy.

So for these customers, due to popular demand, we’re pleased to announce that we’re expanding Burner’s subscription options. You can now get a 1 Line or 3 Line Burner subscription with flexible billing options.

Burner for business phone numbers

All subscription plans include:

  • Unlimited calls, texts, and picture messages
  • Auto-renewing Lines
  • Line swaps—change your number once a month per line
  • Spam blocking on ALL lines with Nomorobo
  • Priority support with faster response times

1 Line and 3 Line Subscription Plans

Formerly, we called our only monthly subscription plan Burner Premium. This term is now being deprecated in favor of the 1 Line Subscription.

So if you had a Burner Premium plan already, not much has changed except that now your plan is called a 1 Line Subscription. The price remains the same at $4.99 per month for unlimited calling, texting, and picture messaging.

Burner Subscription Phone Numbers

What is new is the option to switch over to yearly billing, and save 20% ($3.99/month). Once you upgrade your app to Burner 3.6 for iOS or Android, look for the new 🔥 UPGRADE action in the menu.

In addition, we’ve also added a 3 Line Subscription for $14.99/month. This is where the power users mentioned above, those who need multiple lines to manage their side projects or business, to separate their work and personal lives in the Burner app, will really want to go. It means more auto-renewing Burner lines with less hassle, plus all the features you’ve come to expect from our subscription.

If you sign up for the 3 Line Subscription on a yearly basis, you’ll save about 22% ($11.67/month).

Zapier Enhances Functionality for Professionals and Idea People

Since the announcement of our Zapier integration beta last month, we've also added many more ways to enhance Burner's functionality for professionals.

If you’re looking for enhanced productivity in your communications, or a way to automate tasks or receive text-based notifications for important events, check out our list of recommendations.

New Zap templates include using Burner for managing event RSVPs, automating text messages to new clients, sending completed Asana tasks as a text message from Burner, or getting text messages when Calendly invitees cancel a meeting.

Burner Zapier Productivity Templates

Here are some of our favorite Zap templates.

You can see the full list of templates and read more about our Zapier integration for enhancing productivity at our Zapier + Burner page.

If you already have the Burner app, you can upgrade to a 1 Line or 3 Line subscription by clicking here.

New users get a free phone number with a 7-day free trial. Download Burner for iOS or Android.

Turbocharge Your Fundraisers with Burner Smart Phone Numbers

Whether it’s a walk-a-thon, Girl Scout cookies, gala tickets, silent auctions, or sub sandwiches, it always seems to be “that time of year” for the important causes in our lives and families.  

If you’re collecting donations, pledges, RSVP’s or volunteer commitments, however, there’s no question that SMS is the modern way to do it. But it’s unwieldy—and noisy—to do on your personal phone line.

Here’s one way to automate fundraising and sales efforts—use a smart phone number app like Burner to build an automated order line. Not only can a 5-minute setup help make fundraising fun again, but you’ll be able reach a whole new audience online, automate some repetitive tasks…and maybe even have some techno-fun in the process.

Burner lines (school, work, fundraising, volunteering, airbnb)

Automate Sales with Burner’s Smart Phone Number Platform

When we say an automated order line, we mean a smart phone number with autoresponders and direct integrations to popular apps like Google Sheets.

This simple setup with help you move beyond a simply “autoresponder” into something more intelligent and useful. With a few tweaks, this can quickly become a new direct sales channel that works even when you’re not.

Burner’s smart phone number platform has been designed to make it easy to create your own order line. Using the Burner app, you can:

  1. Create a new disposable phone number that conceals your personal number

  2. Set up simple autoresponder text messages

  3. Customize your voicemail greeting, notifications, and other settings (so you can unplug or be very involved, depending on your preference)

  4. Integrate with apps like Google Sheets, Slack, Dropbox, etc.

  5. Manage everything right from your smartphone
Burner's Google Sheets integration

The Girl Scout Cookie Line

To illustrate this example, we’re going to show you how one of our founders used Burner to help his daughter succeed in one of the most popular fundraising movements in the country: Girl Scout Cookie sales.

Selling the nearly irresistible Girl Scout Cookies is one of the primary methods that local Girl Scout Troops use to raise funds for their activities, while also providing a great opportunity to teach girls about business, goal setting, ethics, and more. Traditionally, cookie season means Scouts go door to door, relying on Thin Mint-vs.-Samoa rivalries and the hankerings of their parents, friends, and neighbors, or set up tables in front of the local grocery store. The visit to Mom or Dad’s office with a well-rehearsed spiel and an order form in hand is also a time-tested tactic.

Girl Scout cookies being no more immune to change than anything else, the digital realm is now part of the playing field for modern young entrepreneurs, too. And what better way to reach friends, aunts, and uncles—while teaching tomorrow’s CEOs about marketing and technology—than by SMS?

Of course you could use your parental cell phone, but Burner enables girls make their own custom phone lines that will maintain their privacy (an important concern for any kid) and help them gather and organize incoming orders using tools like text auto-replies and integrations with Google Sheets.

More tools and more methods mean more sales, and that will lead to more funds for the Troop.

Here’s how it works.

How to Create a Simple Automated Ordering Line

With a few easy steps, you too can have your very own automated Girl Scout Cookie Line to take requests or reservations for cookie sales. Note that with a few tweaks this can also be used for school fundraisers (kids selling coupon books or wrapping paper), or direct sales of any kind.

When it’s set up, you simply post the number online to reach a larger audience, take requests from a phone or computer, and delete the number when you’re done—all the while protecting your privacy and personal phone number.

Here’s the process:

  1. Create a Burner line

  2. Name it “Cookie Line 🍪” or something else that you’ll remember

  3. Set up an auto-reply for texts that shows what inventory you currently have on hand

  4. Connect Google Sheets to collect all the requests and keep them in one place

  5. (Optional) Connect Slack so you can reply from the desktop computer.

  6. Post the number to Facebook, Twitter, or directly message it to your friends
The cookie line UI step by step

Once the reservations/requests start rolling in, simply show up with cookies and make the sale. This is a great time-saver because you can schedule the sales, and find people with real intent to buy rather than knocking on doors and crossing your fingers, or waiting outside department stores in the hot sun all day long.

As a parent, you’ll be happy because it’s more efficient. As a Girl Scout, you’ll be happy because it will lead to more sales.

With Burner, you can create as many automated order lines as you need, for any venture. Whether you’re selling clients, dictionaries, or girl scout cookies, this method could help expand your sales efforts into new territories.

Don’t be afraid to get creative. Put the technology to work for you, and you’ll leapfrog ahead of the competition.

Good luck with the fundraiser!

Why You Need Burner for Activism

Using Burner for phonebanking, supporting campaigns, canvassing and calling your reps

This piece was originally posted on Medium. Icons from The Noun Project: Phone by Magicon, Capital by Fabien Jouin.

Phonebanking and calling your reps

It’s not always obvious to people why they might need a Burner line. We talk about online dating, Craigslist and running your own business as incentives for setting up a disposable phone number. But what about activism?

Before we dive into these specific cases, I want to give a shout out to privacy during this resurgence of civic engagement. Burner is one of many services that can help you decentralize your personal data. Think about all the online forms you put your info into. Think about how terribly designed most government, candidate and nonprofit websites are, and how poor their security is. Remember healthcare.gov Version 1? Even with the best of intents, good people often put you at risk with weak passwords and unencrypted spreadsheets full of your personal information. Yippee!

Here are some ways you can keep your main phone number out of the mix and increase your personal safety when fighting the good fight.

Phonebanking

During the 2016 Presidential election, we offered free Burners to anyone phonebanking to get out the vote. When we initially put it forward, we weren’t sure if people who had not yet used Burner would find it compelling — but the feedback was overwhelmingly positive. People were requesting several Burners at a time.

There are a few reasons you might want to use a Burner for phonebanking.

  1. You’re calling an area whose area code does not match your phone number
    I called a lot of voters in other states using Burners created in local area codes. Anecdotally, our team had more answered calls when they called with a local area code than with an outside area code. This is particularly helpful for upcoming special elections and efforts to get out the vote for the 2018 election.
  2. You’re calling lots of people you don’t know
    I’ve done a fair bit of phonebanking and I’m surprised how many people call you back or Google your number. If you use your main cell phone, it rings to your main voicemail message. Even worse, your personal information — like full name and address — can be found relatively easily by reverse searching online. If you use a Burner, you can destroy the line, control the voicemail message or turn off notifications per line — and no one can trace it back to you.
  3. You want to track calls you’ve made and their outcomes
    Depending on whose behalf you are calling, you may have software that does this for you. Otherwise, you may be using good ol’ pen and paper. With a virtual phone number through Burner, you can connect your line to a Google Sheet and store all the numbers you’ve called for easy tracking. Then, you can mark their response in the Google Sheet.

Calling Your Reps

Many of us are calling to support or oppose bills across all levels of government. Perhaps you are calling your own reps (power to the people!), or maybe you’re calling other nearby reps or making cause-related calls. With a Burner, you can get some added benefits beyond your usual phone line.

  1. You may not be on the same side as the rep you’re calling
    Politicians track their constituents and their support (or lack of). The more info you give them, the more they will document. If you’re concerned about any mismatch between your goals and theirs, set up a new number.
  2. You can set up reminders to make calls
    If you’re like me, you don’t make phone calls often, and perhaps you forgot about that very important bill being proposed until it’s too late. Burner has a reminder feature to ping you to make calls. You just pull a call or message to the right and select when you want to be reminded of it. Now, if only it would remind your friends to call too…
  3. Coming soon — Easier ways to add contacts
    Thanks to John Emerson at Backspace (and Burner’s Developer Platform), if you text your address to (520) 200–2223, you’ll receive a short list of your federal and state reps. Or you can look up representatives for other nearby districts. In the near future, we’ll have a fast way for you to save them to your contacts.

Leading and Organizing

“You mean I don’t have to get death threats on my cell phone?”
— Actual quote from a local leader when I told them about Burner

One of my favorite ways to use Burner is for organizing a group of volunteers or collaborators. Write your name and number down on a piece of paper at a meeting, and all the sudden it’s being emailed, unencrypted, to 1,000 people.

Whether you have started your own initiative or you’re joining an established crowd, a Burner can help you control who can contact you and when you can be reached.

  1. Put a Burner number on business cards instead of your real cell phone
    I learned this one the hard way when people I didn’t know got ahold of my business card and started calling me for free advice. Use a Burner number and you can control when notifications are on or off — or you can destroy the number and start fresh if you have to. If you like the number, you can hold onto them indefinitely. (Insert plug for Burner subscriptions — seriously though guys, at $4.99 a month, it’s way cheaper than carrying around that second phone and paying for another carrier plan)
  2. Call out from the Burner number when dialing on behalf of your cause
    People save your number when you call them. Call them from your new number so you can keep your personal and your community work separate. I find that my personal information gets spread so much more freely and rapidly when I’m working with a nonprofit or local organization. I’m so, so glad that I have given each cause their own line so I know who is calling and why. And if it gets too noisy, I just #burnit.
  3. Save voicemails publicly and reuse them in social media
    This one is the odd man out but it’s a pretty cool, underutilized feature of Burner. Say you want to get people to share why they are passionate about voting. You can have them leave voicemails on your Burner line and then either save them to Dropbox or publish them to SoundCloud. Then, share them on social media to further build your momentum. Of course, make sure to let people know in the voicemail greeting that you’re going to do that.

I’m excited to see everyone out there working to improve our communities, our nation and our world. We, at Burner, support you 100% and are building additional tools to further propel your efforts. Please reach out to us on Twitter @burner or email me at lex@burnerapp.com if you are using Burner for civic engagement or if you have ideas in this space. We love hearing from passionate people and, obviously, from anyone using Burner.

Until then, keep up the great work.

Phone cord

Built on Burner: Hostbot, a Case Study

This week we launched an exciting new addition to our virtual number platform for consumers: an API with the ability to authenticate using OAuth 2.0. Now it’s easier than ever to build an app on top of Burner, or integrate Burner’s contacts management, auto-reply, do-not-disturb, and texting functionality into an app of your own devising.

To accompany the launch, and give product managers and potential partners ideas about how the new platform can be used, we once again partnered with Voxable—the team that built Ghostbot.

This article is a case study of that project—how we found our audience, identified their needs, and built an app on Burner to help them run their businesses more efficiently. Follow along to learn how we did it, and how you can emulate this process to build apps of your own.

The Burner team working with Voxable on Hostbot, a Burner Line for Vacation Rental Hosts

Finding Our Audience: Airbnb Hosts

When we first were developing Burner’s API with OAuth, we saw it as a way to enable developers and partners to build features and apps that we might not be able to build ourselves.

We wanted to build an app to demonstrate the capabilities, something that had a real impact on a real-world market. We had lots of possible directions. People use Burner for Craigslist, Airbnb, Tinder, Etsy, and much more. But we didn’t know exactly what the app would be.

After some discussion, we settled on an interesting fact: many Airbnb hosts are already using our numbers to manage their properties. They rely on Burner to help protect their privacy while still giving them reliable calling and texting with their guests across multiple properties.

We went forward from there, confident that we would be providing additional value to an active group of our customers.

Identifying the Pain Point: Wasted Time

Next, we needed to find out what kind of value a third party Airbnb app could add to a phone number already being used in the wild.

Through a series of interviews with Airbnb hosts using Burner, Voxable discovered that Airbnb hosts experience a high amount of call and text volume just to answer common questions from guests during their stay. Answering questions from one group of guests in a single property doesn’t take much time. But multiply that by several properties, and the time needed goes up by an order of magnitude.

Voxable landed on the idea of a simple auto-responder bot that could answer basic questions about a property, so the host didn't have to.

Minimum Viable Product: FAQ with NLP

Digging through the interview transcriptions, as well as Airbnb host data available in online forums, Voxable identified sixteen key questions that hosts get asked the most.

Once we had the questions worked out, our Minimum Viable Product (MVP) became clear: Voxable would create a simple online form that would allow hosts to answer those questions once, and then create a “smart agent” (bot) on Burner that auto-responds to common questions on the host’s behalf.

Hostbot's form for FAQs and common answers for Airbnb guests

Enter HostBot

The result of this project was HostBot. It uses a Natural Language Processing (NLP) service called API.ai to help the bot identify multiple permutations of our sixteen common questions from guests.

Once it was ready, we sent it around to our Airbnb users for some testing. Our early beta tests found that while the bot handled many basic things well—and saved time for hosts—there were certain kinds of questions that needed direct human intervention.

Based on this feedback, we added a model where the agent auto-replies to questions it knows, but still passes the conversation through to the host so that they can listen in and intervene if they need to.

Hostbot's auto-responder in action

In subsequent builds, we plan on adding the ability for the agent to directly contact the host when it encounters a question it cannot answer or deems to be highly important. This kind of human monitoring is something only available because the app is sitting on Burner, which has a user interface through which to pass the message.

You can try HostBot out right now! (Make sure you sign up for Burner and create a number first.) Go to hostbot.burnerapp.com to get started.

Build Your App on Burner!

Anyone can create an app on Burner like this. Our new API has built-in text messaging, auto-reply, DND mode, and contacts management.

Connect your Burner line to Hostbot for free

Using Burner, you get to the fun stuff faster than if you went with an API like Twilio or Broadband, where you would be required to build basic telephony functions from scratch first.

Burner is a natural fit for companies who want to help their users maintain control of their privacy while ensuring their own security quality. We can provide both peace of mind to you (with two factor authentication) and to your audience by allowing them to use the Burner app.

Read more about Burner’s API in the docs, about OAuth 2.0 specifically, or about the other OAuth examples and webhook examples we’ve put together on the platform.

Hostbot, a Burner Line for Vacation Rental Hosts

We’ve built a free utility for short-term rental hosts renting their homes through Airbnb, HomeAway, VRBO, and other vacation rental marketplaces.

We’re calling it Hostbot, and it is a smart agent that automatically interprets and answers the “frequently asked questions” all hosts find themselves answering again and again.

Hostbot is built on the Burner API, which was also announced today.

Hostbot, a Burner line for Airbnb, Homeaway, and VRBO hosts

How Hostbot Works

Simply authorize Hostbot, attach it to a Burner, and give the number to your guests.

Then when they text common questions like “What’s the wifi password?” or “Where is the closest public transit?” the answers you wrote in advance will automatically be sent back to them.

Hostbot auto-responds to common questions from guests on the host's behalf

We’ve identified sixteen common questions based on our research into Airbnb hosts. And if a question comes through that’s not in your script, no worries—just respond as you normally would.

Sixteen common questions that Airbnb guests frequently ask their hosts

Of course, using Hostbot for Burner comes with all the benefits of Burner itself—no one bothering you on your personal mobile, the ability to save contacts and customize the appearance of your lines, reminders, and much more. So after setting it up, all you have to do is sit back, relax, and enjoy your peace, quiet, and privacy.

We hope this example shows you how Burner can help people be more productive at work. Both hosts and guests benefit from automation workflows.

We think Burner is most useful for situations where people want to partition or control their identity. At work, at school, on dates, but also when you're renting out a vacation home, online shopping or looking for a new car.

Renting out your home and connecting Hostbot to your Burner is, of course, just the beginning of what’s possible when you take Burner—the phone number that lets you take control of your identity, privacy, and productivity—and turn it into an open platform.

See all the benefits of using Hostbot and how to get started here. If you have any questions about how to use Hostbot for your particular vacation rental business, don’t hesitate to reach out to us at support@burnerapp.com.

Build Apps on Burner: New API with OAuth 2 Support

Today, we’re launching the Burner REST API with OAuth 2.0 support, an important milestone for Burner as a consumer phone number platform.

It’s now easier than ever to build on top of Burner as a developer or integrate with Burner as a partner. Do you want to create tools that empower users, protect their privacy, and make phone numbers more useful and usable? Do you want to connect your app’s functionality to a rich client that treats phone numbers like software because you know this is the future of phone communications? You’ve come to the right place.

Burner API with OAuth 2.0

For existing Burner customers who already love Burner Connections, the Burner API enables open and advanced third-party integrations that make Burner more useful and powerful. Applications that attach voice and messaging functions to Burner, rather than simply delivering “UI-less” texts or calls, can offer their customers more options and rich client features for handling communications.

Users, of course, have complete control to revoke access to any third-party integration from within the Burner app, and we will continue to protect users’ personal data and identity like we always do.

Introducing the New Burner API

Last July, we launched the Developer Connection that allows users to listen through incoming webhooks and communicate through Burner numbers with outgoing webhooks.

The Burner API, a series of REST-based methods (accessed securely via the OAuth 2.0 authorization framework) expands upon that functionality, allowing more fine-tuned control over Burners, Contacts and Messages.

Burner's phone settings in action

Practically speaking, this means developers will have access to set or toggle features such as the ringer, notifications, and auto-reply messages on an authorized Burner line.

The API can also add and update Contacts, as well as manage their status (i.e. block or mute).

Text messages are also included in the API controls. Third party apps can now process incoming text messages (for instance, through a Natural Language Processing service) on a person’s behalf, take programmatic actions, and/or respond or initiate new outgoing messages.

For example, any developer can now build an app like Ghostbot, or add Burner controls to an app with access to Google Calendar so it can place user lines in Do Not Disturb mode during scheduled meetings. (You can have that idea for free – we’ve got plenty more where it came from.)

Read the full Burner API documentation online.

OAuth 2.0 and Integration

The Burner API uses OAuth 2.0 for user authentication. It’s secure for users, and any authorized apps can be managed or disabled via the Burner app.

What this means in practical terms is that developers—from solo hackers to large-scale partners—can integrate Burner directly into their applications, enabling their users to benefit from the tools Burner has built to help users protect their personal phone number, and therefore their identity.

Hostbot, a Burner line for Airbnb, Homeaway, and VRBO hosts

Leveraging Burner’s app, along with all of the features, business model components, and back-office elements that come with it, will save developers time, lower barriers to adoption, and allow innovators and entrepreneurs to focus on building new apps and agents into consumer phone numbers.

Zapier

Since the Developer Connection update last year, you’ve been able to use Burner with Zapier by utilizing incoming and outgoing webhooks on the Developer Connection.

You can still do this, if you want to—but we’ve made it easier. Burner is now available as a first-class Zapier Integration enabled via OAuth. No developer experience required!

Burner's on Zapier as a new action

Zaps allow you to connect your Burner number to other apps like Google Calendar, contact managers, customer support tools like Desk, productivity tools like Trello, social networks, and much more. The Zapier integration literally adds thousands of potential workflows to Burner, with more apps coming online every week.

Examples of creative ways you could use this include…

Send Welcome Text to New Hubspot Contact

If you are using HubSpot as your CRM, you can use Zapier to have Burner send new contacts a customized welcome message when they are added to a list.

Automated responses for business with Burner

This could be a welcome message to a new client, for instance, “Welcome to Our Awesome Agency! It’s great to have you as a client, and we appreciate your business.”

Or it could be a welcome message to someone you met at a networking event. For instance, “Hey [name], this is Bob from Awesome Agency, and it was great to meet you at the event! Now you have my direct number, feel free to call or text me back.”

Since the message comes from your direct number, any responses they send will go straight to your phone in the Burner app.

One Click Do Not Disturb

Using the Zapier Chrome plugin, you can add one-push actions to Burner. For example, with one click you can turn off the ringer and notifications, and turn on your auto-reply with a pre-set message. With another click, you can turn the ringer and notifications back on and turn off the auto-reply. You could also set up a Zap with a custom auto-reply message.

Zapier Chrome plugin + Burner - One click do not disturb mode

RSVP to Wedding Zap

If you’re like many people using a website builder to create your wedding site, you probably have your RSVP page hooked into a Google Sheet. Now you can hook Google Sheets up to a Burner outgoing text message and be notified as soon as someone RSVP’s. You can even customize the message based on the fields in the Sheet.

For example, this is the guest’s name and the RSVP status:

An RSVP text notification

Check out our updated Zapier page for detailed walkthrough of how to get started with Burner on Zapier.

Hostbot, a Bot-Enabled Burner Line for Vacation Rental Hosts

To further demonstrate the capabilities of our new API with OAuth, we also built a smart agent for short-term rental hosts to communicate with their guests. Once Hostbot has been authorized to a particular Burner line, the host answers sixteen common questions we’ve identified in our research of Airbnb, Homeaway, and VRBO hosts. Hostbot will then respond automatically to corresponding guest questions via text message. Learn more about Hostbot in this blog post.

In the API docs, we have more bot examples and webhook examples with which you can experiment.

We look forward to seeing what you come up with, and to hearing your questions and feedback. You can shoot us a text at (323) 391-4827 or email at developers@burnerapp.com.

Burner + Nomorobo: Empowering People to Silence Spam Calls

Our fight against needless calls and spam messaging continues. Today we’re pleased to announce an exclusive partnership with Nomorobo, winner of the FTC Robocall Challenge, to block robocalls and telemarketers for Burner customers.

Burner is the first and only virtual phone number app to integrate Nomorobo's technology. Adding Nomorobo to Burner’s arsenal of Connections also extends our mission to create the first truly open phone number platform.

Would you like “Rachel from Card Services” to stop ringing you every time you sit down to dinner? Us too!

Here’s how it works:

Nomorobo Connection - Robocall spam and telemarketer filtering

1. Activate Nomorobo

First, make sure you update your app to the latest version (iOS 3.5.1 or Android 3.5.4) on your device.

Also, you’ll need to have a Premium subscription. Only Premium customers will have the Nomorobo Connection.

Once the app updates, the Nomorobo Connection will be turned on by default for all Burner lines for Premium subscribers. A prompt will appear indicating the new Connection, and give you the option to turn it off.

2. Robocalls and telemarketers are filtered out automatically

Once you turn on the Nomorobo Connection, robocalls and telemarketers are pre-scanned, and filtered out automatically. Those calls won’t ring to your phone.

Nomorobo works by cross-referencing the incoming number with “a MASSIVE database of known, illegal robocallers ... compiled with the help of the FTC, user reports, and [their] own honey traps.” Honey traps, also known as honeypots, are hidden security mechanisms designed to fool robots and other spammers (see Nomorobo’s FAQ).

For you, it’s zero hassle. No extra action is required, nor is there any inconvenience for legitimate callers. Your friends and colleagues won’t even know you’ve turned it on.

Nomorobo Connection - Automatically filtered calls
Nomorobo Connection - List of filtered calls

3. View Filtered calls

If a call finds a match in Nomorobo’s database, it gets placed into the “Filtered” section of your call history.

If there’s no match, the call goes through.

4. Whitelist non-spam numbers

If a call was Filtered incorrectly (or you believe the system made an error), tap the call and then select “Move to Inbox” to whitelist the number.

In the future, calls made to you from this number will ring to your phone.

 

 

 

Nomorobo Connection - Whitelist or delete spam calls
Nomorobo Connection by Burner

5. Turn it off at any time

You can manage the Nomorobo Connection in the “Details” section of each Burner line, so that you can activate it on a line-by-line basis.

To improve our user’s overall experience, Nomorobo will be turned on by default for all lines for Premium subscribers.

A free bonus for Premium customers

For Premium subscribers, the Nomorobo Connection will be available at no extra charge—a great benefit for great customers.

If you’re not subscribed, you can learn more about Burner Premium and upgrade to an unlimited Burner line for only $4.99/mo.

Do you have feedback or questions about Burner or the new Nomorobo Connection? Feel free to email us at support@burnerapp.com.

In the meantime, enjoy your peace of mind while calls from "Rachel from Card Services" go right where they belong!


Ready to get started with a new disposable number that can block robocalls and telemarketers while protecting your privacy and identity? Click the button below to search for available numbers in an area code of your choice!

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!