During the WWDC 2023 keynote, Apple introduced a pretty killer new feature coming in iOS 17 for the Phone app. Dubbed Live Voicemail, the iOS 17 Phone upgrade can screen and automatically transcribe incoming phone calls in real time, so you can decide if you want to pick up the call, call back later or just ignore it.
This is a great timesaver, but it also raises a very big question. If Apple can do this with voicemail, why can’t it do the same with voice recordings in the Voice Memos app that also ships with the iPhone? The underlying technology is there, so why not put it to use?
Meanwhile, Google’s Recorder app has had live transcriptions since 2019 with the Pixel 4, and it’s honestly been a game-changer for how I work. I no longer have to use a dedicated service to transcribe interviews, which can cost about $40 a pop. And while there’s plenty of dedicated transcription apps like Otter, I’d rather have a tool built into my iPhone.
Ironically, I recently used a Pixel 7a with the Recorder app to record an interview with Apple about the making of the MacBook Air, and the Android app did a superb job. I noticed a few errors here and there, but it’s easy to replay exact moments during the interview because the audio is sync with the test. You just press to play the portion you want.
It gets better. The Recorder app automatically applies speaker labels now, which you can edit after the fact. And I love that I can quickly export the interview as a Google Doc in Google Drive for easy editing. It’s also a cinch to share recordings with contacts. The only drawback is that the Google Recorder app is for Pixels only, though you can try to do a workaround by downloading the APK.
The Google Recorder app got another upgrade in late May. As reported by 9to5 Google, the app now offers a dual-column layout for larger screen devices like the Google Pixel Fold and the Google Pixel Tablet. It’s almost like Google is rubbing it in at this point.
Apple likes to say that many of its new iOS features are a result of user feedback and what the people say they want. Consider my request for a smarter Voice Notes app officially registered.