If you’re into clichés, then you know a picture is worth a thousand words. If you listen to business owners, you know that your voice does a better job of telling a story. Whether you need to record a bolt of out-of-the-blue inspiration that strikes you on your morning walk or every word of a critical meeting with a client, voice memo apps are handy tools for ensuring that important moments don’t fade away into the mist. Here are five of the best.
- Voice Memos (iOS; free): Voice Memos comes preinstalled on Apple’s iPhone, iPad and iPod touch, and if you only need basic voice recording capabilities, it works great. The interface is simple and straightforward, recording duration is limited only by the amount of free space left on your hard drive, and you can trim and edit audio recordings right in the app itself. Audio files sync to iTunes on your Mac or PC, and you can share recordings with friends via email or text message.
- Audio Memos (iOS; $0.99 plus optional in-app purchases): If you need more advanced features and options, Audio Memos is a solid choice for Apple owners — assuming you don’t mind spending money for the functionality. Audio Memos carries a $0.99 base price, but many of its features come in the form of additional $0.99 in-app extensions. (Alternatively, you can unlock all the extensions for $9.99.) Those features include the ability to upload recordings to Dropbox or Evernote, voice-activated recording, in-app recording editing, the ability to insert comments and navigation points to recordings, and a whole lot more. The default app syncs with iCloud and delivers clear, loud and adjustable-quality audio. All the options can be a bit confusing to get used to at first, however.
- Voice Recorder (Android; free): Voice Recorder is basically an Android version of Apple’s Voice Memos; a free, functional and fairly basic voice memo app. Audio recordings are clear and legible, though not of the absolute highest quality. The only extra bells and whistles are the ability to set a timer to start recording after a certain amount of time passes, a home screen widget, and file export via Gmail. You might not want to trust Voice Recorder with critical recordings, however; a fairly sizable majority of the app’s user reviews contain tales of missing audio. We’ve never run into the problem after taking dozens of recordings on two separate Android phones, however.
- Tape-a-Talk Voice Recorder (Android; free, $5.26 pro version available): …but we did run into problems with chunks of audio going missing in Tape-a-Talk’s recordings. That’s too bad, because Tape-a-Talk’s adjustable audio quality and feature list outshines Voice Recorder’s offerings. The app lets you save files in high-quality WAV format as well as standard 3GP, records even when you’re using another app or your phone is asleep and allows you to export files to Dropbox, email or text message. The pro version adds robust editing and file name options along with a home screen widget and the ability to self-repair damaged audio files. Try it out — just don’t trust Tape-a-Talk with a critical recording until you’ve tested it thoroughly with less crucial tasks first. Some users report flawless playback; others ran into the same missing audio problems we did.
- VR+ Voice Recorder (BlackBerry, $7.99; iOS, $1.99): To be absolutely honest, most of the third-party voice memo apps available for BlackBerry are expensive and buggier than the basic, yet excellent Voice Notes app that comes pre-installed on BlackBerry devices. If you need more bells and whistles than Voice Notes offers, however, VR+ Voice Recorder may be up your alley. The app includes voice-activated recording and allows you to directly share your audio files to Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, and Blogger or email a recording as an MP3 file. The app can also transcribe recordings into text and send them to you in an email. Now that’s handy! Unfortunately, BlackBerry users report running into compatibility issues with some phones and the occasional crippling bug. Try the free, ad-supported VR+ Lite app first to make sure the software runs fine on your phone. (Be forewarned: VR+ Lite adds an audio watermark/ad to your recordings.) The iOS version isn’t plagued by the same problems.