Lost Interview
November 19, 2010 6:28 AM   Subscribe

Please help my son recover his fantastic interview with a homeless guy.

While waiting at a city bus stop, my 14-year-old strikes up a conversation with a homeless guy, which turns into a recorded interview (with the guy's permission). It was recorded on an iPhone using the built-in voice memo app. The guy pours his heart out to my son about his life and its woes and both are happy about getting this all down on tape.

Now my kid's bus comes, and he has to scurry off. He presses pause in the voice memo app, and then presses the "screen lock" button or whatever it's called (I'm not an iPhone user). When he is settled on the bus, he unlocks the screen, and it's back to the home screen. He goes to find the interview he's just recorded and he can't find it anywhere. It was a really moving interview.

Is there any conceivable way this audio file is recoverable? I don't know why the phone would toss it without explicit confirmation, but assuming it did, is it possible the sectors are still there, and with some clever hacking the file can be restored?
posted by iconjack to Technology (11 answers total)
I don't know how to do it, but an important piece of advice is not to use the phone for anything until you hear some suggestions. Normal phone operation could potentially overwrite the file.
posted by fake at 6:34 AM on November 19, 2010

Also, if it hasn't been turned off, don't turn it off.
posted by fake at 6:35 AM on November 19, 2010

Just to confirm -- when he opens the Voice Memo app and clicks the little button with the three horizontal lines to display the list of voice memos, it doesn't show the recording that he made?
posted by BurntHombre at 6:56 AM on November 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: I believe that's right, BurntHombre. He's in school right now so I can't confirm, but he told me "it wasn't there" so I assume he saw exactly what you describe.
posted by iconjack at 7:05 AM on November 19, 2010

Best answer: 2nd post here has a possible solution using software called Phone View.
posted by acidic at 7:50 AM on November 19, 2010

I'm afraid this won't help terribly much, but I had a similar experience a couple of weeks back. Slightly different context, I was at a singing workshop, recording songs using the Voice Memo app on my iPhone. The next day I was listening back to some of them, and whilst doing this, noticed one that I had been listening to just a few minutes before had disappeared (which I was gutted about).

I'm 95% sure that what happened was that I accidentally deleted it. Sadly the usability of the voice app isn't quite up to Apple's normal standard: you'll notice that once you press the button with three lines, what you get on the next screen - in exactly the same spot - is the 'delete' button. Furthermore, sometimes on my iPhone the response is a bit sluggish when you press the 'three lines' button - so you press it again, not sure if the first press registered... and boom. Accidental deletion.

Moral (for me at least) - IMMEDIATELY back up the contents to iTunes, if it's important stuff. (Which I hadn't). Or don't use the Voice Memo app...

FWIW I also tried various software utilities to browse my iPhone over USB to see if the file was there somewhere, just not showing up in the list of Voice Memos... no joy.

posted by Hartham's Hugging Robots at 7:51 AM on November 19, 2010

Best answer: Another option similar to Phone View is a program called Phone Disk, which is currently available for free.
posted by bcwinters at 7:53 AM on November 19, 2010

OK, two things -- A) Normally if you sync you phone, voice memos will come up waaaay down at the bottom of the playlists under Voice Memos -- it looks just like a playlist, so it's hard to find. If it doesn't show up there, there's a free bit of software that will pull voice messages off the iphone's itunes back-up . . . it's called iPhone Backup Extractor. That would be a good place to start.

B) . . . there have been a number if instances with Voice Memo (and Photo Booth, actually) where I was certain I'd told it to record, but it was not recording. So either it's not very clear how to direct it to record, or something might be wonky with the programs.
posted by MeiraV at 7:55 AM on November 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

For a better recording app for the future, try NCH RecordPad. It can back up / send your files to email or FTP for safe keeping.
posted by reddot at 8:14 AM on November 19, 2010

I'll echo what others have said about the UI of the Voice Memo app being a little on the unfriendly side. Also, this:
He presses pause in the voice memo app, and then presses the "screen lock" button or whatever it's called (I'm not an iPhone user). When he is settled on the bus, he unlocks the screen, and it's back to the home screen.
If that's an exact sequence of events, it leads me to think that the app may have crashed -- it should still have been in the foreground once the screen was unlocked. What this would mean for the recorded audio, I don't know.
posted by BurntHombre at 10:51 AM on November 19, 2010

Response by poster: It worked! We installed Phone Disk and sure enough, there it was as a .MOV file. Thanks MetaFilter!
posted by iconjack at 8:38 PM on November 19, 2010

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