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.
Jott for iPhone is mentioned here for the sake of completeness as it also provides voice recording capabilities. However, this application forms part of a more complete service provided by Jott Networks which involves transcribing voice memos into a text-based to-do list, so it is difficult to do an effective comparison with other voice recording applications.
Jott is a free application, though you will need to sign up for an account on Jott’s service—also currently free during their beta period. The Jott application starts in “Recording” mode and you can tap anywhere on the screen to begin a recording:
Recordings can be up to 15 seconds in length, and when you finish recording, your voice memo is uploaded to the Jott servers to be transcribed and added to your Jott to-do list. This upload and transcription process can take anywhere from 30 seconds up to 10 minutes, and while this is occurring you will be shown a message that transcription is in progress, although you can still listen to the actual voice recording during this time.
When Jott has finished transcribing your voice note, it will appear on your Jott to-do list:
Jott is an app with a very specific purpose, which is to leave short notes for yourself while you’re on the go.