iPhone Still Doesn't Play G.711 WAV Files
Thu Sep 27th 2007, 7:03pm
Update July 10th, 2008: G.711 files are now playing for me on my early test of the iPhone 2.0 software. The original article remains below.

Even with today's 1.1.1 iPhone firmware update, it still can't play the .wav files I get via email from my company's voicemail system. I now see a nice new Quicktime logo next to the attachment, I can click on it, and Quicktime launches... but it then immediately errors out with "This movie could not be played".

After digging a bit deeper, I discovered the problem is the iPhone can't play .wav files that use the particular codec our voicemail system is using: G.711 (which apparently is a very common codec to use for telecommunications). "WAV" is just a packaging format (like AVI), it can have uncompressed or compressed (even mp3!) audio inside of it.

You can hit Wave File Compression Codecs Compared to see a variety of common .wav file types, and try each to see which will play in your iPhone. Here's what I found:

Codec Works on iPhone
11,025Hz 16bit PCMyes
8000Hz 16bit PCMyes
11,025Hz 8bit PCMyes
11,025Hz u-Lawno
8,000Hz 8bit PCMyes
8,000Hz u-Law (aka G.711)no
11,025Hz 4bit ADPCMno
8000Hz 4bit ADPCMno
11,025Hz GSM6.10no
8000Hz Mp3 16kno
8,000Hz GSM6.10no
8000Hz Lernout & Hauspie SBC 12kno
8,000Hz DSP Group TrueSpeechno
8000Hz Mp3 8kno
8,000Hz Lernout & Hauspie CELPno

So it appears that the iPhone can only play PCM .wav files, which are probably the most common you'll find on the web. However Vonage customers are still out of luck, David confirms Vonage voicemails also use G.711.

Oh well... it's a step up from not being able to play any .wav files, maybe next update will support a broader range of codecs.

Additional Resources:

Update January 16th, 2008: still not working as of the 1.1.3 update.

Visitor comments
On Thu Nov 15th 2007, 6:15pm, Visitor posted:
I finally setup a script using procmail, munpack and sox to convert incoming voicemail notifications to a format the iphone could play then forward them out using mutt. (all linux)

- James

On Wed Dec 5th 2007, 6:45am, Visitor posted:
James, can you share the script?

On Wed Dec 19th 2007, 8:27pm, Visitor posted:
You can try iPhoneConvert.com

Just create a rule (or forward) to messages@iphoneconvert.com a link is then returned (listen in Safari)

Additionally, if you create an account (FREE), you can have the messages attached as an attachment.

On Mon Feb 4th 2008, 10:04pm, Mario posted:
While it only works for vonage - Take a look at http://www.vonagent.com (it's free :). It will let you d/l your vonage voicemails and play them on the iphone. If you have another voicemail system that you need help with - let me know

On Tue Feb 5th 2008, 10:54am, Steve Kehlet posted:
Hi Mario, thanks for the post! Vonagent looks great. We use Cisco's Unity voicemail system where I work, got any tips for it?

On Sun Mar 16th 2008, 12:06am, Michael posted:
I like what James did. Does anyone have any details on how to do that?

On Thu Jul 10th 2008, 7:06pm, Visitor posted:
any status update with iphone os 2.0?

On Thu Jul 10th 2008, 7:30pm, Steve Kehlet posted:
I just tried it, and it works! Horray! At least for me. I followed the instructions earlier today at http://blog.wired.com/gadgets/2008/07/how-to-get-the.html, got the 2.0 software installed, sent myself a voicemail, and it plays just fine.

Here's what file has to say about the file:

RIFF (little-endian) data, WAVE audio, ITU G.711 mu-law, mono 8000 Hz

On Sat Apr 28th 2012, 1:27am, luckybabyboy posted:
This article just aims to solve "iTunes won't import WAV" issue and helps to successfully import all kinds of WAV to iTunes so as to play WAV on iPhone, iPod, iPad, and iTunes with ease at http://www.bigasoft.com/articles/how-to-import-wav-to-play-in-itunes-iphone-ipod-ipad.html