Review: nFinity QuickVoice Recorder
On August 4, 2008, we reviewed a collection of 13 different voice recorder applications for the iPhone in a roundup entitled iPhone Gems: Every Voice Recorder, Reviewed. This review contains a review of one application from that roundup; additional comparative details can be found in the original full story.
The iPhone comes with a built-in microphone, but didn’t have any voice recording software to take advantage of that feature. Today, less than a month after the opening of the App Store, there are 13 different pieces of voice recorder software. Note that unlike many of the App Store programs, these particular applications are designed specifically for the iPhone, not the iPod touch. Additionally, the base recording quality of all of the apps that we reviewed was roughly equivalent. A few of the apps we reviewed offered higher-quality recording settings, which resulted in slightly improved fidelity when recording from music sources or from distant sources, such as in a lecture hall. However, for voice recording quality purposes, all of the applications that we reviewed provided acceptable quality with virtually no distinguishable differences.
In terms of space taken up by voice recordings, based on the apps that did provide storage information or transfer of voice memos, you can expect your recordings to take approximately 1MB per minute of recorded audio on average, versus 2.5MB per minute on the iPod 5G’s, classic’s and nano’s low-quality mode. Notably, the numbers are not directly comparable because iPhone recordings are currently made in Apple’s Core Audio Format (CAF) rather than WAV, the format used by iPods. The space consumed will also vary somewhat with applications that provide different quality settings, however with the monaural microphone on the iPhone, there’s no current need to record in stereo fidelity. A near-term iPhone software update is expected to add MP3 encoding as an alternative to CAF for greater compatibility of the recorded files.
QuickVoice recorder is another relatively basic voice recording application with one useful feature that distinguishes it from the others: nFinity provides a separate application in both Mac and Windows flavors that can be used to transfer your recordings directly onto your desktop computer.
As a voice recorder, QuickVoice is nothing spectacular compared to the other options available. Starting the application yields a listing of your current voice recordings and prominent Record and Play buttons, with additional buttons for editing and deleting displayed in the bottom corners:
To start a new recording, simply tap the Record button, and recording begins immediately.
Unlike most other basic recorders, however, QuickVoice does include the capability to pause and resume your recording at any point—a feature that nFinity advertises rather prominently on its App Store description, and it’s definitely a useful advantage over some of the other basic voice recorders.
Beyond that distinction, however, QuickVoice is unfortunately one of these applications that just doesn’t quite “feel right” on the iPhone. The UI design definitely does not follow the design of other iPhone applications, and can therefore be somewhat non-intuitive. For instance, to edit, play or delete a recording, you must tap on it first to select it, and then select the appropriate button from the bottom of the screen. More importantly, however, a blue dot is used to indicate the currently-selected item—a confusing choice since in just about every other iPhone application, a blue dot is used to indicate a new/unread/unheard item, and normally a highlight bar is used to identify the current item when necessary.
About the only really distinguishing feature of QuickVoice is the desktop sync client, which basically reads the backup files that iTunes creates when you sync your iPhone to retrieve your voice recordings from there. The application can be downloaded directly from the developer’s web site, although it took a bit of digging to actually find—an actual direct link on the App Store page would have been far more convenient. Once installed, running the desktop app simply provides a dialog box prompting you to confirm that you have synced your iPhone with iTunes, and then displays an Import button to bring in the audio files from your iPhone backup:
Clicking the Import button simply copies all of your new voice recordings from your iPhone backup folder into a separate folder on your computer:
QuickVoice recorder works as advertised, and some users will definitely prefer the desktop sync client over the e-mail transfer methods used by other applications, however if this is not a priority, there are slighlty less expensive applications that do a better job on the iPhone interface and provide additional features. [Note: Following our review, the developer decided to bundle a PC or Mac version of the application with the iPhone one, and raised the price from $2 to $5 for the bundle.]