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The top 5 apps for transcribing lectures and converting speech to text on iPhone or Android «Smartphones :: Gadget Hacks



The transcribing app can be an invaluable tool, especially if you are a student or are in a profession that relies on audio journals or interviews. These apps can convert important recordings such as lectures and meetings to text for you to read carefully to better understand.

However, with the abundance of transcription apps available for iPhones and Android devices, you can choose one that meets all your schools and work needs have the potential to break your wallet. With that in mind, we have tested dozens of these apps and found the top five transcribing apps available for both Android and iOS.

Table of Contents

Comparison Chart

Image of Amboy Manalo / Gadget Hacks

Key Comparison Points

  • Price: [194559009] ] The price for the app itself.
  • Charges / in-app purchases: While it is not necessarily a bad thing to have to pay for a transcript app's services, it is important to distinguish between apps that offer enhanced features – such as transcripts made by actual people – that motivate their costs and apps that basically give you more of the same.
  • Free Trial / Compensation: Some paid transcription apps let you try their services for free on any kind of time-based trial. Trials are a great way to check how good these apps are in terms of overall service, so you can have a more informed decision about whether they're worth your time and money.
  • Supported languages: For people taking linguistics classes, it would be perfect if your transcription app worked with more than one language. However, most apps on this list are in English only.
  • Account Required: For security purposes, most transcribing apps require you to create an account, although some apps allow you to log in with either your Google, Facebook or Office365 for added convenience.
  • Speech-to-text: This element covers the different ways that transcription apps can record audio, from direct dictation, to audio and video file conversion. Of course, the more options an app has, the better.
  • Transcription Method: Transcript apps basically rely on two methods to transcribe your recordings – either via human-based transcripts where you have a person manually transcribe your recordings, or AI-based transcripts.
  • Turnaround Time: The time it will take for you to receive your transcribed recording. In addition to the overall accuracy, quick waiting times are also ideal – no one wants to wait days to get their transcripts.
  • Share options: There are times when you need to transfer a copy of your transcripts and recordings to another location or share with a colleague. Although almost all transcription apps allow this as far as transcripts go, some have the added ability to share your audio files along your transcripts.
  • Save Options: Transcript apps usually store your audio recordings and transcripts in the app itself. , although some provide additional options such as automatically sending copies of your transcripts to your email account.
  • Transcription accuracy: This element is perhaps the most important function of transcription apps. We evaluated these apps by allowing them to transcribe the same recording under the same circumstances, and then we did them based on the percentage of words they got right.
  • Punctuation: Although often taken for granted, punctuation in a transcript significantly helps in legibility. Without punctuation, your transcript becomes a gigantic phrase that can make you more confused.
  • Importing audio files: There will be times when you need to transcribe a video or audio recording outside the Voice Memo app that a colleague shared with you and to have a transcribing app that can convert it from an MP3 or other audio file to a text document will be handy.
  • Edit transcript: When the transcript is clear, whether or not you can manually edit words such as AI or human transcript misunderstood.
  • Voice Learning: If the app can learn a specific speaker's voice to improve transcription accuracy.
  • Designate Speakers: Whether or not the app allows you to differentiate between multiple speakers in a transcript by adding a notation with each speaker's name.
  • Search text: Whether or not the app allows you to search the last text transcript. [19659010] Dark Mode: If you study late at night, you really appreciate a transcribing app with an accessible dark mode to keep the dazzling white backgrounds in the distance.
  • Calendar support: But not a big feature of the grand scheme of things, a transcribing app that has calendar support gives you a great way to remind you of events and tasks that may require you to keep your recorder at hand.
  • 3D Touch Support: When used in conjunction with a supported transcriber app, this iPhone feature gives you extra accessibility and lets you instantly record audio on the go.
  • Siri Integration: Apple's virtual assistant has become an asset for hands-free use and when fully supported, you can open your transcription app with voice to start recording an important lecture or meeting.
  • Widgets: For faster access, some apps today support View widgets on iOS.
  • Recording with Bluetooth Device: Whether you can record audio from an external Bluetooth device, such as a microphone.

How We Chose These Apps

Before we started the task of comparing transcribing apps, we first set some ground rules. Since a majority of the transcribing apps offer a fee-based payment system for the services they provide, we had to sort which apps gave you the best value for money in terms of pricing and overall speech-to-text accuracy.

To determine the accuracy of the transcription, we developed a test based on a number that was exactly 100 words long. The speech was then dictated in high quality on a separate unit, in two separate recordings – one was made in a normal tone, while the other recording had a heavy accent. The first 50 words from both recordings were then dictated at normal tempo, and the latter half spoke faster.

From there, we opened each app on our test phones and played the recordings from three feet away for apps to record and transcribe. We then calculated a score based on how many words were missed or incorrectly transcribed and determined the average score collected from the numbers for each test. The top five apps in these tests made the initial cut, then we ranked them based on features in the chart above.

App 1: Otter

Otter knocked out all other apps on this list by a large margin, largely thanks to the large balance it reaches between free and premium content. Although its transcription options are not as great as other services out there, the app does more than it does with the large amount of features it provides to the table.

To begin with, Otter provides the most generous free allowance for all the apps on this list by giving you 600 minutes to use each month. Unused minutes do not roll over to next month, but with a 10-hour allotment to use freely every 30 days, Otter is the perfect companion app for both students and professionals.

Of course, you can also choose to subscribe to service, which allows you to either pay $ 19.99 each month or $ 99.99 per year depending on your needs. Doing so will increase your total minutes from 600 to 6,000 while unlocking many features such as Dropbox integration and bulk export.

However, you do not have to pay for the service to take advantage of most features. This is in addition to the fact that Otter comes with the most features from all the apps on this list. These include built-in dark mode support for easier night viewing, the ability to import recordings outside the app for transcription, calendar integration, and more.

To make the app even more versatile, you can train Otter to recognize your voice for even more accurate transcriptions thanks to the "Record voiceprint" feature. This feature is especially important for the app, because unlike other apps like TranscribeMe, Otter relies only on AI to transcribe speech into text. That said, the service actually worked extremely well and received an impressive 99% overall on tests performed with normal and heavy accents.

For additional availability, Otter also has full 3D Touch support so you can start a voice recording or perform a quick search without having to open the app. And thanks to full Siri integration, you can initiate hands-free recording via Siri, even if the option is not available on Android with Google Assistant.

In addition to the lack of AI integration and the human-based transcript option, Otter's transcription service only supports English. As such, you need to use another app like TranscribeMe if you need to transcribe in another language like Spanish from French.

Taken together, Otter's intuitive and feature-packed UI completely overshadows the few limitations it has and makes it an ideal app for both professionals and students who need to quickly record and transcribe. So if you are looking for an app to reliably convert speech and voice notes to text, Otter should be at the top of your list.

App 2: TranscribeMe

TranscribeMe is a good all-round speech-to-text app that is sure to meet all your transcription needs. This app can fit into almost any budget, whether you are a student with limited finances or a high-powered lawyer who needs the most accurate transcripts possible. The app is free to download and gives you the most variety of transcription services.

For payment and security purposes, the app requires you to create an account to use its transcription services. Thankfully, TranscribeMe allows you to log in with either your Facebook or Google account, which means a smaller password to try to remember.

In addition to dictation support in the app, TranscribeMe allows you to import audio recordings made in the Voice Memos app, along with other audio files for conversion from speech to text. Unfortunately, the "Import Recording" feature did not work during our testing, and had to mark it as such in the chart. As such, this aspect will be updated as soon as we verify its functionality.

When it comes to service, TranscribeMe provides you with a variety of transcription methods to suit almost any budget. Unlike other apps in this list, the app lets you choose between AI- or human-based transcripts, depending on your needs. Unfortunately, the app does not offer free testing for its service, which means you have to pay for transcripts outside the bats.

While selecting AI-based transcripts, some of the lack of free trials will be offset by a cost of $ 0.10 per minute; more accurate, human-based conversions may vary depending on which service you choose, along with other options – such as faster latency – requested. A standard print for a recording that will be delivered within one business day will set you back around $ 2.50 per minute.

Of course, you can lower prices by either choosing a cheaper service such as "First Draft" that only passes through a layer of transcription, setting the turnaround time to a longer timeframe, or a combination of both. Keep in mind that it will take longer to receive your transcripts.

In terms of transcription accuracy, TranscribeMe can do a lot Good. Human transcripts are very accurate and average at almost a hundred percent. AI-based "Machine Express" transcripts are a small hit or miss, and although it did very well when converting a recording with a normal accent, it did not go well and resulted in nice errors when transcribing speech with a heavy accent.

Unfortunately, TranscribeMe is not without its drawbacks , mainly among these is the price of its services. While the AI-based Machine Express option costs you a reasonable $ 6.00 per hour, human-based transcriptions can start at about $ 75 per hour and run up to $ 240 per hour for the premium Verbatim option. Also keep in mind that the waiting time is calculated during working days, so the weekends are not counted.

It is clear that TranscribeMe's premium services are more focused on companies and professionals who need the absolute best and can afford it. Still, the app's Machine Express option does a good job of accurately transcribing recordings, making it a solid choice for individuals with tighter wallets.

App 3: Temi

Temi is the third app on this list, and like TranscribeMe, the app is free to download and charges a time-based fee for using its services. Temi, however, differs from the competitors' formulas in certain important aspects.

To start, Temi charges a flat fee of $ 0.10 per minute for text-to-speech conversions to keep its services streamlined, which equals $ 6.00 per hour. This puts the app in line with the TranscribeMes Machine Express service, but with some notable features not available for its equivalent.

Unlike other apps on this list, Temi highlights text that it may not have transcribed correctly, making it easy to detect any potential errors that you can then correct thanks to the app's built-in editing feature. This is essential, because Temi does not offer any human-based transcription services, instead you just choose to rely on AI to handle all transcripts.

That said, Temi did very well on our tests and transcribed recordings of both normal and heavy accents with 98% accuracy with much less error. In addition, the transcription time averaged about five minutes. Although not as fast as other apps on this list, the overall accuracy of the conversion did more than for the slightly longer timeframe.

Although it lacks many features like the ability to import audio files outside the app, calendar support and assistant integration, Temis is easy to understand UI and streamlined prices more than compensate for any shortcomings. And thanks to its free trial, you can try the app right now to see if its services fit your needs.

App 4: Voicea

Voicea has an intuitive user interface that lets you hit the ground for recording audio and generating transcripts. The app, formerly known as Voicera, has since changed how it does things alongside rebrand.

Like most apps on this list, Voicea requires you to create an account to use the app, but it lets you use your login information from either Google, Office365, Slack or Salesforce for easy access. Like Otter, Voicea also has calendar support, which gives you a way to remind you of any upcoming events such as lectures that you want to record and transcribe.

Voicea fared well in transcription accuracy compared to most transcription apps, although they ranked the lowest of all apps on this list by 96%. Another weakness we found was the app's sole dependence on dictation and its inability to import audio files from other apps like voice memos. Because of this, the app is less than perfect for the moment when you need to transcribe audio files as lectures from a classmate.

Despite its limitations, however, Voicea is still a great transcription app that can more than handle your speech-to-text needs. And thanks to the monthly grant, fast transcript times and built-in calendar support, this app is ideal for students who rely on schedules and reminders to keep up to date with events and tasks such as recording upcoming lectures.

App 5: Rev Voice Recorder

Rev Voice Recorder is a good alternative for those seeking professional transcription services at a slightly lower price compared to TranscribeMe's premium transcription services. Like all other apps on this list, Rev Voice Recorder is free to download from both Google Play and iOS App Stores.

Rev Voice Recorder offers a free trial version to test their services. Basically, your first transcript of up to 10 minutes is free. Keep in mind that this free offer is for the first transcript only, so even if your first transcript is only three minutes long, the trial period will end immediately, and you will be charged for the second transcript.

Rev relies on a dedicated team of people for their transcription service to ensure accuracy and it shows. The app boasted the highest overall accuracy in our tests, and transcribed exactly both recordings with normal and heavy accents to land it with a total score of 99%. Unlike their AI-based counterparts, the transcripts came with perfectly placed punctuation to make reading much more digestible.

(1) Normal accent. (2) tongue accent.

This reliance on premium-based, human-based transcripts, of course, comes with a price, as Rev Voice Recorder can be expensive for transcriptions of long audio recordings. Although nowhere near the costs associated with TranscribeMe's premium services, printing an hour-long recording of the app's services will cost about $ 60, making this app less than perfect for students with tight budgets.

In addition, the Rev Voice recorder requires you to create an account in the app for security and payment purposes. This can be problematic, as it provides you with an additional account that contains sensitive financial information, along with the associated login information that you must keep track of.

That said, Rev Voice Recorder is still a good alternative to TranscribeMe and ultimately costs less to use when you need an accurate human-based transcription. It also strikes its counterpart in terms of waiting times, as Rev Voice Recorder guarantees will come within 12 hours of submission – 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

This article was produced under Gadget Hack's special coverage of using your smartphone to increase productivity. Check out the entire productivity series.

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Cover image and screenshots of Amboy Manalo / Gadget Hacks

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