There are many uses for transcription services, whether it’s recording a police interview as text for the purposes of a legal case, or for academic purposes such as transcribing research interviews.
For years, qualified individuals have carried out transcription services with the skills to best preserve what was said in a crucial meeting or court case. However, the recent rise of automated transcription apps has delivered increased speed and lower costs.
This article will look at why you might want to use an app-based transcription service, what the trade-offs are, and which we feel are the top five available today.
Why Use an Automated Transcription App?
While it’s tempting to use an automated transcription app, it’s essential to understand that there is a trade-off involved in doing so.
Human transcription services, such as those offered by K-International, offer over 99% accuracy. By contrast, Automated Sound Recognition software (often referred to as ASR typically produces around 80% accuracy when there are ideal audio conditions (e.g., good quality recording with very little background noise and on voice speaking at a time). Although, as we’ll see, some premium apps do deliver considerably better than that figure.
So why use an automated app instead?
Budget constraints are always a factor, no matter the industry or profession in which you operate. If you only intend to gather the gist of what was said in a given situation rather than end up with a verbatim transcript (as is legally necessary in many cases), then these apps might offer the perfect fit for you.
Alternatively, if you are an individual, such as a freelance journalist or a university student needing notes from your lectures, employing human transcription services becomes prohibitively expensive.
Now you’ve been made aware of the pros and cons of using an ASR app-based service, let’s look at the top five available today.
Otter has made its name in the transcription app business for automatically transcribing meetings and interviews, whereby multiple voices are being recorded and transcribed. The app rather impressively uses artificial intelligence to transcribe in real-time and generally handles multiple voices pretty well.
It’s one of the few ASR apps that boasts cross conversation speaker identification, hence its popularity for recording meetings such as formal interviews and Zoom conference calls.
In terms of functionality, you can simply open the app, hit record, and it will get to work immediately, transcribing and self-editing as you talk. Alternatively, you can import audio recordings to transcription within the app. Perhaps the only drawback is you can’t use the app while your phone’s camera is in use.
Another selling point of Otter is that you can access most app features on its free basic plan and receive up to 600 minutes of transcription per month (max 40 minutes per recording). For many individual users, this will be more than enough. For those who need more, pricing is in dollars and starts at $8.33 per month for 6000 minutes, and business plans start at $20 for the same amount per user.
As is the case with Otter, Dragon Anywhere is available on Android and iOS devices, and it’s developed its reputation as one of the best dictation apps out there.
The app’s impressive 99% accuracy immediately, and its developers, Nuance Communications, also claim that that percentage increases as the app adapts to your voice. You can also add custom industry jargon to make the app more useful in a specific business setting, and it comes with voice editing and formatting.
Another nice feature is the ability to share your transcribed documents quickly and efficiently using cloud storage options such as Dropbox and Evernote. You can also work with this app on your desktop if you want to voice-dictate large swathes of text onto your computer.
However, there are a few drawbacks. The first of which is the cost. This app costs £10.99 per month or £109.99 per year. Secondly, this app is aimed specifically at dictation, so it’s not as good a fit for recording meetings, for example. Neither can you import audio for transcription purposes; you have to record via the app.
Transcribe - Speech to Text
Another app that leverages AI technology is the Transcribe – Speech to Text app. This one is another piece of software that is well suited to journalists, students, or those whose job it is to take minutes of meetings.
This app can transcribe any voice note or video file into text, and it includes support for up to 120 languages and dialects at present. You can import files from other storage apps such as Dropbox, which is a handy feature for many busy professionals.
There are, however, a few drawbacks. Firstly, this app is only available on Apple (iOS) devices. Secondly, the transcription leaves you with the simple raw text, meaning you’ll have to leave the app to clean it up in a word processor. Another issue is that the accuracy is 90%, which is lower than some of the other apps mentioned here.
Lastly, it’s certainly not cheap. While the app does offer you 15 minutes of free transcription services, for every hour extra, you pay $5, and you will have to part with $30 for 10 hours of audio or video transcription.
Braina is an automated speech recognition software that goes much deeper than mere transcription. Basically, it allows you to communicate commands to your PC via your Android or iOS device.
With regards to transcription, its feature set is pretty impressive. In essence, the program can convert your voice into text for any website or software program, including word processors.
Perhaps its most unique selling point is that it already recognises specific industry terms in the fields of medicine, law, and science. This makes it a perfect transcription app solution if you find yourself working in any of these particular industries. Even if it doesn’t recognise a specific term, you can always add it to Braina’s vocabulary.
It can recognise over 100 languages, and it includes options for dictation commands, such as tabbing and deleting. The drawback is that the free version lacks features, so you’ll have to upgrade to the Pro version, which costs $49 for a year. Some of you might not want to fork out that price when you’re only looking for the automated transcription service element.
If you’re really on a budget, then you’ll be looking for a tool that does what you need without costing you a penny. If you are looking for a simple ASR transcription tool, then the humble Google Gboard might be your best bet. The free Android app is available on many mobile devices as a default. However, you can always download it from the Google Play Store if not.
Although this is, in essence, a keyboard application, it doubles as a speech-to-text app. As because all of Google’s software development prowess is behind it, it’s pretty good too. The added benefit is that you can combine it with Google Translate, which supports over 60 languages.
There are, of course, some obvious drawbacks. Firstly, this app is for Android devices. However, there is a workaround as you can access the same speech-to-text features with programs such as Google Docs if you are working on an Apple device or a Windows PC.
As was the case with Transcribe, another issue is that there are no voice editing tools, so you are left with a raw transcript that will undoubtedly need tidying up once you’ve finished dictating. However, it delivers a surprising amount for a free transcription tool without the need for those annoying adverts!
Receive the Most Accurate and Flexible Transcription Services from K-International
These transcription apps are an excellent solution if you have a limited budget or you’re an individual looking to transcribe voice notes. However, automated software is yet to match the accuracy, flexibility, and security of human transcription service, which picks up every nuance and intricate detail.
Here at K-International, we are the Crown Commercial Service Supplier for transcription services. We are trusted to transcribe some of the most confidential discussions and reports in the country.
We work for companies and organisations in all industries, including law enforcement, finance, medicine, and media. We also have transcription experts on hand that understand the jargon involved in each respective field.
Lastly, we specialise in providing secure transcriptions services to public and private sector organisations, with an encrypted online portal that protects sensitive files from falling into the wrong hands.
Please get in touch with a member of our transcription team to learn more about how we can help your organisation today