Your smartphone can double up as a dictaphone. Point your handset at the speaker and you can record meetings, lectures and interviews. Google Play has plenty of great voice recording apps, but Cogi rises to the top by recognizing the core needs of recording speech better than other apps.
Cogi – Notes & Voice Recorder
- Simple tap-to-record and tap-to-pause interface lets you record the main points.
- Can be set to always listen without recording.
- Can record endlessly, till you run out of phone storage.
- Rewinds 5, 15, 30 or 45 seconds from the time you tap, so you capture what was said before you tapped.
- Share recordings via Dropbox, Google Drive, Evernote, and email.
- Write notes while recording.
- Take photographs while recording.
- Add tags and contacts to an audio file for easy reference.
- Can record while screen is turned off, or while you use some other app.
Where It Excels
Cogi takes a different approach to the traditional voice recorder. It takes some getting used to, but it's worth learning the ropes. You can use it as a normal recorder by tapping the main button twice, but Cogi intends to record only the highlights, not the entire speech.
You tap first to start a new session, after which Cogi is listening in the background. When the speaker says something interesting, tap the screen to highlight that part (indicated by the dial turning orange). This highlighted audio clip will also include the last 5, 15, 30 or 45 seconds of audio, depending on what you chose in the app settings. Tap again to stop recording. This way, you are able to use the app for lengthy recordings without worrying about running out of space, and more importantly, capturing only the bits you want to listen to later. Plus, it recognizes that audio doesn't cover everything in a meeting or a lecture, so it has built-in tools to write notes in your session or capture the whiteboard with your phone's camera. Once you are done, you review each highlight separately, or play back the whole session.
The session can also be tagged with labels or assigned contacts from your address book for easy categorization—the contacts are for your reference only though. Each session and individual highlighted audio clips can be renamed and shared across various services. Perhaps most importantly, Cogi offers all of this absolutely free, no strings attached.
Where It Falls Short
Cogi is not without problems. It records only high-quality audio and doesn't let you choose formats or bitrate. It can't save to external memory cards. It doesn't auto-sync with cloud services like Dropbox. All of this can lead to a space crunch on phones with limited internal memory. Also, searching by hashtag or contact is a bit convoluted and could be easier in the interface. Finally, while the notes and photographs are fantastic features, they don't bear a timestamp for easy reference.
Hi-Q MP3 Voice Recorder (Free | $3.99 Full) is your best bet if you want a more traditional, free voice recording app. The simple interface has three self-explanatory buttons: Record, Pause, and Done. It supports only the MP3 file format, but you can choose the bitrate for quality and size control. If your camera and phone use different microphones, you can choose whether to use the rear or front mic; and you can choose to record in stereo. Hi-Q also lets you set where your files are stored and a minimum amount of free space to keep on your storage. You can also start recording from the notification drawer. If you want to record someone in stealth, you can change the icon to something less suspicious. The only limitation of the free version is that it limits each recording to 10 minutes. The full version has unlimited recordings, as well as a widget for quick-start.
If you don't want MP3, Easy Voice Recorder (Free | $3.99 Pro) has similar features as Hi-Q and records in AAC, AMR and PCM audio formats. But yes, it has ads. Easy Voice Recorder Pro removes ads, records in stereo, saves to external memory cards, supports external microphones, adds folder management, and brings notification bar shortcuts as well as a handy widget.
Skyro Voice Recorder (Free | $1 Pro) is a gorgeous app which has something none of the others do: cloud storage sync. Set it up with your Dropbox account and it will auto-transfer your recordings to the cloud; and it can save files to the external storage, so you never have to worry about space constraints. Skyro also arranges your notes chronologically, geo-tags them automatically, and lets you assign text tags for easy reference and search. Just in case the app crashes, Skyro also auto-saves the recording. The Pro version unlocks more sync options and the ability to set your MP3 bitrate.
Our previous winner, Tape-a-talk (Free | $1.32 Pro), is still a good voice recorder, especially for its ability to auto-save and repair recordings if the app crashes or your phone shuts down.
Those who want high-quality FLAC recordings, RecForge II (Free | $3.99 Pro) is a good app. You can schedule recordings, skip silent parts, and it has basic audio editing tools too.