The Diane to his Special Agent Dale Cooper
March 17, 2017 1:22 PM   Subscribe

I have a co-volunteer who does a lot of good work for our organization but who is terrible about keeping everyone else updated because he's always on the road or otherwise busy. He recently discovered Facebook's voice message feature and that's helping, so I'm looking for something like that but better.

He has an iPhone 7 plus. He would likely be recording most of these voice notes while driving so a very simple interface is necessary.

I think I'm looking for something that would function like this:
1. He pushes a button
2. He yaps at his phone for however long
3. He pushes the button again to stop recording
4. The recording and a transcription are automatically sent (emailed?) to me
5. I am able to forward specific notes to other people as necessary

The #1 priority is that it be simple enough on his end that he'll actually use it and won't crash his car in the process.

I can be flexible on how I receive and manage the notes on my end, but I'd prefer to receive them via email so that I don't have yet another inbox to check.

Please advise, thanks!
posted by Jacqueline to Technology (9 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
One point to consider: audio can be significantly large, file-size wise, and it might impact his data usage significantly, depending on how often he emails you audio attachments.

Also, how long would his messages be? I ask because talking on the phone, even hands-free, increases the risk of crashing in ways that talking to someone in the car does not. Dinking around with a phone before recording an email is much worse, because he'll have to look at his phone to make sure the recording has started, and to send the email. Even if he uses Siri to do all that, I can't imagine he'll get it all done without taking his eyes from the road, and even if he does, his attention is elsewhere, even if his eyes are looking forward.

With all that, I would suggest that he pulls over every so often and transcribes an email to you. iPhone's native email app has a voice recognition feature, and while he's stopped, he can safely review his message, making sure the transcription is 1) accurate, and 2) completely captures everything he wanted to say. If he needs to record something on the go, there's also a decent native iPhone audio recorder app that only records audio, so he can review his thoughts before transcribing or writing an email to send.

If you want something more like a collaboration platform with transcribing options, Evernote offers some of that, and you can attach audio recordings or have it transcribe your comments, but apparently not both, and there's a service charge for more than two devices attached to an account. There are some Evernote alternatives, but nothing as robust from what I've seen.
posted by filthy light thief at 1:37 PM on March 17, 2017 [1 favorite]

I have not tried this, but IFTTT has a phone number that you can call and leave a voice message. It can trigger different behaviors, like email transcription and mp3 file to yourself.
posted by wemayfreeze at 1:41 PM on March 17, 2017 [1 favorite]

One possibility: set him up with DropVox and make sure you have access to same folder.
posted by WCityMike at 2:03 PM on March 17, 2017

(Also, re: data consideration, I believe the app lets you specify syncing on wifi only -- he would only have to make sure to connect to a wifi spot at least once every ______ in order to get the recordings to you.)
posted by WCityMike at 2:04 PM on March 17, 2017

My office uses Copytalk. You call in and dictate your message. Messages are transcribed and emailed to recipients you choose. Turnaround time is usually within 24 hours. Names and locations are often mis-spelled, so messages need to be polished before they go into our CRM, but it's workable.
posted by jennypower at 2:06 PM on March 17, 2017 [1 favorite]

These messages will just be internal "FYI" type stuff (e.g., summaries of meetings he just left, requests for reminders to follow up on promises he just made, etc.) so no need for the transcriptions to be polished. I just want to be able to skim them to get a quick idea of what the message is about so I know who needs to see/hear it. The ultimate recipients can just listen to the recording if the transcription is garbled.

I know that talking on the phone while driving still carries some risks but it's a big improvement over his texting and driving, ugh. I know him well enough to know that he's not going to pull over, hence my search for something that will automatically send me the recordings/transcriptions without him having to review them, select recipients, or otherwise fiddle with anything.
posted by Jacqueline at 2:42 PM on March 17, 2017

Have him call a Google Voice number that forwards straight to voicemail. That will hypothetically transcribe everything he says and email you a transcript. Even if the transcription fails you have the audio clip. This also uses no data on the phone and allows use of any phone integration/control built in to the car.
posted by token-ring at 3:23 PM on March 17, 2017 [7 favorites]

We tried the Google Voice suggestion but it doesn't transcribe long messages plus apparently it cuts him off after a while.
posted by Jacqueline at 9:37 PM on March 23, 2017

Oh wait nevermind, it didn't EMAIL me the transcripts but there are now transcripts on the Google Voice site. So I think that will work.
posted by Jacqueline at 9:45 PM on March 23, 2017

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