Top 20 Transcription Apps Reviewed

by | Apr 9, 2019 | Tips and Tricks

There are numerous apps in the app store that claim to offer some form transcription, but they have wildly different use cases. To get a flavour of the apps on offer, I opened the app store on my iPhone and searched for “Transcription”. I then installed and reviewed the first 20 apps returned in the search results in the order that they were shown.

1: Transcribe – Speech to Text

Use case: Transcribing previously recorded audio.

The app claims to use a neural network to provide fast speech to text transcription at the lowest possible price. On installation, the app asks permission to access the camera roll. I was then shown some splash screens notable for the for poor quality English which was presumably generated by an automatic translation service.

There is no option to record audio from within the app. The app tells me that it is able to import voice memos or videos, so I checked that I had recordings in my default iPhone “Voice memos” app and clicked the plus button which failed to discover the recordings in my voice memos app. A popup message told me to send the memo from the the voice memos app. I was then able to transcribe the imported audio which took a couple of minutes. Once complete, I could view a transcript of my text. A replay button played the audio, highlighting the transcribed words. The quality of the automatic transcription was OK.

First 15 minutes of transcription time is free. Additional time costs £4.99 per hour.

  • Ease of use: 1 / 5
  • Functionality: 2 / 5
  • Value for money: 2 / 5
  • Transcription accuracy: 4 / 5

Summary: The developers must be really good at app store optimisation to have this rank as the number one app for Transcription!

2: dictate2us Transcription

Use case: Front end to dictate2us manual transcription service.

The app opens with an audio recording that plays over the splash screen that explaining that the app allows the creation or import of recording which are sent to a specialist transcriber. Clear that this is a premium, secure service which manual transcribers.

Clean user interface that enables recordings to be made within the app. Recordings are sent off for transcription and a notification is received when the transcript is ready.

The transcript was returned in a word document via email a few minutes after submitting a short test recording via the app. As you’d expect with manual transcription, the result was very accurate. There is no way of accessing the transcript though the app.

Requires a dictate2us account. Transcription costs $10 for 5 minutes.

  • Ease of use: 3 / 5
  • Functionality: 3 / 5
  • Value for money: 3 / 5
  • Transcription accuracy: 5 / 5

This app provides a quality interface to the dictate2us manual transcription service.

3: Temi – Record and Transcribe

Use case: Front end to Tremi automatic transcription service.

The app opens with a splash screen explaining that it will record and transcribe conversations instantly.

You can record audio within the app and submit it for transcription. You are required to create a Tremi account when submitting the first audio file. The transcript is produced in a few seconds and when ready, the transcript can be viewed in the app. An email is also received containing a link the the Tremi portal allowing the audio to be played and the transcript viewed.

Requires a Tremi account. Transcription costs $0.10 per minute.

  • Ease of use: 4 / 5
  • Functionality: 3 / 5
  • Value for money: 3 / 5
  • Transcription accuracy: 4 / 5

This app provides a quality interface to the dictate2us manual transcription service.

4: Transcribe+

Use case: Bamboozle the user with pointless detail.

The app opens with the most complicated and confusing splash screen I have ever seen. Initial impression is that the app does something very complicated, but I haven’t got a clue what. This may be a deliberate ploy by the developers because it doesn’t seem to do much.

Then the app tells me to select a track to get started which is pointless because the files that I want to transcribe are in my voice memos app which isn’t accessible from my music library. Eventually, I switched to the voice memos app where I discovered that I can send ta file to Transcribe+ and am immediately shown an advert for another irrelevant app. Eventually, I manage to get back to my file within the app and discover that I can replay my file with some controls for slowing down or speeding up to audio.

Option to unlock everything for £9.99.

  • Ease of use: 0 / 5
  • Functionality: 1 / 5
  • Value for money: 1 / 5
  • Transcription accuracy: as good as your typing

Allows replay of recorded audio at varying speed, just like a dictaphone did in the 1980’s.

5: Transcribe Live

Use case: Quick meeting notes when everyone is in the same room.

The app opens up. You start talking and the app writes down what you said. This is the perfect app for making quick recordings of a meeting when everyone is in the same room. You can playback the recorded call and words are highlighted as the audio plays. Both the transcript and recorded audio can be shared with other apps.

First 15 minutes for free, then £2.99 per hour or £7.49 per month.

  • Ease of use: 5 / 5
  • Functionality: 3 / 5
  • Value for money: 3 / 5
  • Transcription accuracy: 4 / 5

Intuitive app, perfect for dictating quick notes.

6: Transcribe – Interview Helper

Use case: Transcribe interviews.

App opens with a completely blank screen with a mysterious plus button in the top corner. No tutorial. No help. No hints. Nothing. Pressing the button authorises the microphone and then authorises the app to use Apple speech recognition services. Text appears on the screen as you talk but the accuracy seems mediocre. When you finish, the app asks to give the recording a name which then appears on the home screen. Opening a recording reveals the transcript but tapping the play button at the bottom of the screen has no effect. The text is editable but the only way that I could find to move it to another app was via copy and paste.

Free to use.

  • Ease of use: 2 / 5
  • Functionality: 2 / 5
  • Value for money: free app
  • Transcription accuracy: 2 / 5

Doesn’t do anything particularly well.

7: Voice Recorder and Audio Editor

Use case: Pretend to own a tape recorder.

Recording app is styled like a cassette player, but the screen design is corrupted on my iPhone XR. Record button makes a recording and the little wheels inside the cassette turn around. I expected playback to use the same skeuomorphic analogy, but was surprised that playback shows a progress dot moving along a straight line with a wave form at the top of the screen. I have no idea why – probably lost in the development history of the app.

The app also offers call recording via 3 way phone calls for £4.49 per month. This may be a great service and may well include an element of transcription. But there is no sign of any transcription in the free demo.

Call recorder costs £4.49 per month.

  • Ease of use: 1 / 5
  • Functionality: 1 / 5
  • Value for money: 1 / 5
  • Transcription accuracy: Couldn’t tell in the demo

Might work better on an older iOS version.

8: DejaVoice – Transcription and Voice Caption App

Use case:  Might transcribe speech on some other iPhones. iPhone 5 screen scaled up to a modern iPhone XR. The UI says that it is listening. But nothing appears. I suspect that this app is not compatible with iOS 12 Free. Fortunately.

  • Ease of use: 0 / 5
  • Functionality: 0 / 5
  • Value for money: free app
  • Transcription accuracy: 0 / 5

Old app that didn’t work for me.

9: DICT8:UK Medical Transcription

Use case: Interface for existing customers of the DICT8 service.

Unable to complete a review.

10: reChord – transcribe chords with guitar diagrams for all your songs

Use case: Transcribing previously recorded audio.

This seems to be an app to record and transcribe music. Not really what I was expecting to find under transcription, but I thought I’d give it a go anyway. The app runs a user interface for an iPhone 5 which has been scaled up to appear on my iPhone XR. Simple instruction in the middle of the screen “Tap here to import and transcribe your first song” has no effect. I don’t think this is going to work.

Offers a “Pro” package for £7.99

  • Ease of use: 0 / 5
  • Functionality: 0 / 5
  • Value for money: 0 / 5
  • Transcription accuracy: 0 / 5

Another old app that doesn’t work any more.

11: Brill

Use case: Transcribing previously recorded audio.

When the app first starts, it asks what you are working on and to create a new folder for it. I didn’t know what I was going to keep in my folder, but created one anyway. It helpfully advises me to pick a good name and I called mine “testing”. Tapping on the newly created folder the app tells me that there are “No cards here…”. But I don’t want a card, I just want to transcribe something!

All the bottom of the screen, there are buttons for “hold to record” and a mysterious plus sign. Tapping the hold button prompts for apple search recognition and microphone permissions. Then the app simply creates a new card containing that text that you speak while holding down the button. Once you get going, this is really simple to use.

The contents of a folder can be exported to other apps as text or csv, or loaded as cards straight into Trello which probably explains why the notes are called cards.

Brill claims to be able to add notes straight from Apple Watch, but annoyingly, opening the watch app gives a message “No Folders . To create a new folder open Brill on your iPhone” which cannot be cleared by following the instruction.

Free transcription using Apple transcription service.

  • Ease of use: 4 / 5
  • Functionality: 4 / 5
  • Value for money: free app
  • Transcription accuracy: 4 / 5

Summary: Great free note taking app once you get going. Pity the claimed watch integration doesn’t seem to work.

12: Transcribe by room220

Use case: Transcribing audio recorded in app.

On first start, the app immediately requests permissions to send notifications. Then a uses interface appears with a row covered by a label “Swipe row to reveal options”. Swiping the row had no effect and nothing seems to work. I was frustratedly tapping on the screen and about to give up on the app when I happened to tap on the swipe label which spontaneously disappeared. Swiping on the row which had been covered by the tip revealed a grey “i” button, a yellow share button and a red delete button.

After a little more confusion, I tapped elsewhere on the row and a screen offering to play the audio appeared. Tapping a quill icon  reveals a menu that offers Transcribe, Free Sample, and Language options. Transcribe generates an automatic transcript of the audio. According to the documentation this is using Google Speech sand the transcription accuracy is reasonable.  Once generated, the text can be manually corrected and another menu allows the text to be exported to other apps.

First 15 minutes of transcription time is free. Additional time costs £4.99 per hour.

  • Ease of use: 2 / 5
  • Functionality: 3 / 5
  • Value for money: 2 / 5
  • Transcription accuracy: 4 / 5

Summary: A terrible user experience but a reasonably functional app.

13: eScription RH Transcription

Use case: Transcribing previously recorded audio.

This is another app that hasn’t been updated for the latest iphones. It runs in an iPhone 5 screen scaled to fit on the iphone XR. A subscription to Nuance eScription RH is required in order to get past the login screen so I am unable to test further. According to the description on itunes, the app allows physicians to manage their clinical documentation workflow.

14: Transcribe: Adaptive Playback

Use case: Transcribing previously recorded audio.

Another old app designed for an iPhone 5 that scales to fit an iPhone XR. Simple, intuitive interface to record snippets of audio and automatically transcribe using the iOS built in transcription. Transcribed text can be sent to other apps.

Free app.

  • Ease of use: 4 / 5
  • Functionality: 2 / 5
  • Value for money: free app
  • Transcription accuracy: 3 / 5

Summary: Reasonable if somewhat dated recording and transcription app.

15: Voice Recorder & Transcription

Use case: Transcribing previously recorded audio.

The app opens with a prompt to allow access to Apple speech recognition, then requests access to the microphone.

Tapping a microphone button at the bottom of the screen starts a recording with an annoying “pending recording” message flashing. A button design normally used as a mute button ends the recording, which then appears in a recording list.

Tapping a recording in the list displays a message “quit selection mode first” until I sort the recordings. Then an icon like a youtube play button replays the my audio, a pen icon shows an empty dialog where I can write my own transcript. A small speaker icon shows an overlay dialog with a title of “pending transcription” dialog and confusingly, an advert for life insurance is displayed behind the dialog while the transcription happens in real time. Closing the dialog adds the transcript without text wrapping to the list of recordings where that I can only see the first few words that I spoke. But the pen icon now displays the automatically generated transcript in tiny little writing in a very small dialog. A web social sharing button sends the transcript to other apps.

Free with adverts.

  • Ease of use: 1 / 5
  • Functionality: 1 / 5
  • Value for money: free
  • Transcription accuracy: 2 / 5

Summary: An incomplete app with idiosyncratic user interface.

16: Yack.net – Transcribe Calls

Use case: Team collaboration and making recorded, automatically transcribed calls.

On startup, the user is required to sign in or register. Yack.net is a business tool so new users are prompted to create an organisation. After prompts for Microphone, Camera and Notification permissions, the user is prompted to create a new room and invite another use to message and chat.

Users in a room can chat and make calls. The calls are automatically recorded and transcribed. The chat and transcript history is searchable and calls can be replayed from any point in the search results or transcript.

7 day free trial, then £7.50 per user per month for 250 call minutes.

  • Ease of use: 3 / 5
  • Functionality: 5 / 5
  • Value for money: 5 / 5
  • Transcription accuracy: 4 / 5

Full featured business collaboration app featuring recorded, transcribed calls.

17: Steno: live transcription

Use case: Transcribing previously recorded audio.

Starts with a series of beautiful splash screens splash screen telling the user that the app starts with 60 minutes of transcription time and that the app works best with up close, first hand recording. Claims to offer Low Cost, High Quality recordings using the latest artificial intelligence. Tells me that I can Get work done by transcribing live or by importing.  On closing the splash screen, the app shows a tiny little “Welcome to Steno!” dialog which required the user to accept some terms and conditions written in the smallest writing ever displayed in an app.

The app then requires permission to access the microphone and shows a nice clear dialog with a red record button.

As the user speaks, the words are transcribed in real time and displayed on the phone screen. Tapping a bookmark button during the recording to marks an important point. Once saved, tapping a folder icon displays a list of recordings which can be opened to reveal playback options and the automatically generated transcript. Unfortunately, the transcription accuracy seems to be poor and there is no way to export the transcript to other apps.

Free.

  • Ease of use: 3 / 5
  • Functionality: 3 / 5
  • Value for money: free
  • Transcription accuracy: 2 / 5

Summary: This app feels like it will be really good when development is completed.

18: Celestial Music Transcribe

Use case: Makes patterns from music.

The app opens in letterbox with iPhone 5 screen scaled for iPhone XR. Playing music results in a pattern appearing on the screen, but the user interface has problems on the current iPhone screen.

This is a free app.

  • Ease of use: 1 / 5
  • Functionality: 1 / 5
  • Value for money: free app
  • Transcription accuracy: 0 / 5

Summary: Could be interesting when working correctly.

19: Audio Dictating Recorder & Digital Transcription

Use case: Occasional transcription between app crashes.

App displays in a letterbox scaled from an iPhone 5 screen. No splash screen or introduction, just a “New record” button at the bottom of the screen. Tapping this button requests microphone access, then the app crashes.

After restarting the app, tapping the “New record” button weirdly shows a big forward arrow button that is normally used to play an existing recording. Tapping this button causes the app to crash.

At the third attempt a recording is created. Ending the recording shows a modal dialog with an advertisement which forced me to wait for 5 seconds before closing. Finally, I could replay my recording. Unfortunately, there was no sign of any transcription within this app.

Free but annoying.

  • Ease of use: 1 / 5
  • Functionality: 2 / 5
  • Value for money: free
  • Transcription accuracy: 0 / 5

Summary: Nowhere near as good as the default iPhone Voice Memos app.

20: BabbleStash: Transcribe You!

Use case: Recording your thoughts.

The app opens with a blank screen and prompts to allow push notifications and microphone access. Login is required to continue but choosing to login with facebook results in a message “App not set up. This app is still in development mode…” After registering with email, an overlay is displayed “BableStash automatically records, transcribes and saves your thoughts, feelings, and experiences.” Unfortunately the Apple telepathy interface doesn’t seem to be available yet as despite thinking about various subjects ranging from an aardvark to a zebra doesn’t cause any of them to appear in the app. Presumably, despite indications to the contrary, the app requires the user to speak out loud in order to acquire the information??

A listen and edit button allows the user to start recording – and the app asks for permission to use Apple transcription. A message instructs the user to press the babble icon, but there are no fish on the screen, only a red record button. The user is then told to record thoughts and ideas. Tapping a red “Stash” button created an automatic transcription of the last thing said. This creates an Instant Babble against my name. It’s not clear what I can do with the Babbles once created.

Free but not very useful.

  • Ease of use: 1 / 5
  • Functionality: 1 / 5
  • Value for money: free
  • Transcription accuracy: 1 / 5

Seems that the developers have spent too much time hitchhiking around the galaxy and not enough time writing a coherent app.

0 Comments

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Share This