Compatible: iPhone, iPhone 3G
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.
Recorder is a reasonably-priced, basic voice recorder that offers the ability to send your recordings out via e-mail, and little else of note. As with almost all of the other voice recorders, starting the application presents you with a list of your current recordings and a very prominent “Record” button:
Recording works as expected, however there is no capability for pausing recording, and no level meter is provided either. Of course, recording is stopped by tapping on the Stop button; the new recording appears in the list of recordings with a generic name of “Memo” and a date and time stamp:
Tapping on a recording from this list will simply play the recording back in place. Pressing the blue arrow takes you to a screen where you can edit the recording name, and see additional information about the file size, length, and date and time recorded:
Hitting the button in the bottom-left corner provides you with the ability to send the current recording out via e-mail. Unlike other applications, however, Recorder uploads your voice message to a hosted web service, and then opens your iPhone Mail app with a boilerplate message containing the link to the actual recording. You can address and edit this e-mail message and then send it out normally:
Recorder is currently the lowest-priced voice recorder that also offers e-mail sending capabilities, although users will want to consider whether the web-hosted service is more desirable than simply sending the voice recordings as direct e-mail attachments. The upside to the web-hosted service approach is that the e-mail itself is much smaller for the recipient, although the voice message must still be uploaded from the iPhone to the hosted server, so there is no data transfer or time savings when sending the recording. However, since the iPhone’s own e-mail application is used to actually send the e-mail message, you may be more successful in sending voice memos using Recorder than with other applications.
Recorder’s lower price offers a trade-off between the advanced recording capabilities of its competition, and is a fair-enough solution for the price-conscious user who simply wants to make simple voice recordings and send them out via e-mail. However, the price difference between this and a more full-featured application is very small.