I record job interviews. These are the best free recording apps

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I record job interviews. These are the best free recording apps

The Voice Recorder app on a phone (left) and Voice Memos on another phone Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

Before you go to your phone’s app store to buy a voice recording app, take a moment to look at the apps that may already be installed on your phone. Why? In my experience, they’re probably all you really need. I’ve been recording interviews and voiceovers for work for years, and I found that the two best examples are already pre-installed on your phone, so they’re completely free to use.

The caveat worth knowing before we get into each app is that whether or not you’ll be able to try them out depends on which smartphone you own. But just in case you don’t have an iPhone, Pixel or Samsung phone, I have a suggestion for you too.

If you own an iPhone

Voice notes Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

If you own an Apple iPhone or iPad, almost no matter which model, you have standard access to one of the best free voice recording apps out there. Apple’s Voice Memos app is part of iOS and therefore comes installed with the operating system when you get the phone. I have used it for years in various environments and have never been disappointed with the results. I last used it on the iPhone 14 Pro.

It is very easy to use as when you open the app there is a very obvious red ‘record’ button at the bottom of the screen. Tap it and the app starts recording, then tap it again to stop. There is no setting or options to choose from at this stage, making it great for impromptu recordings. The iPhone has always had excellent microphones and recordings from it are always clear.

Voice notes Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

When you record a recording, there are a few playback options you should be aware of. You can adjust the playback speed and there is an option to skip silence which works very effectively. There’s also an Enhance Recording switch that promises to reduce background noise and room echo. It matters and can save records that might otherwise be lost. Voice memo functionality does not end after recording. There is an editing function to cut your recording, record new sections and insert them into the file.

Another reason Voice Memos works so well is that I use a Mac for work and AirDropping the file between devices only takes a few minutes. I’ve used a five-way microphone with my iPhone and recorded voiceovers for various videos using Voice Memos, and I think it’s as good for that as it is for recording a video call or a face-to-face conversation. The simplicity of voice memos and the ease with which you can edit and share the file makes it my favorite voice recorder.

If you own a Google Pixel phone

Google Recorder Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

Google’s Recorder app is only available for Google Pixel phones, which is a shame because it’s feature-rich and relatively easy to use. Most recently, I used Recorder on the Google Pixel 7 Pro, and it stands out from the iPhone thanks to its AI-driven transcription feature, where a live conversation is transcribed as you speak. The transcription is saved along with the audio file and you can follow it during replay.

Even more usefully, the transcription can be shared directly in Google Docs, but it’s a shame that the file doesn’t separate the speakers, making it slightly annoying to edit without listening to the audio file at the same time – especially if it’s a wide-ranging conversation with many speakers . To transcribe voice memo files from the iPhone, I used Trint and found it to be very reliable at recognizing and then separating the speakers. However, you have to pay for the service, unlike the transcription feature of the Recorder app.

Google Recorder Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

There are other interesting features, including the usual editing tools and a way to create a video of audio and transcription. I also like the fast skip buttons that advance 10 seconds or go back just 5 seconds. This is much more useful when listening to conversations than the iPhone’s 15-second skip buttons. However, the Pixel 7 Pro’s microphones aren’t as sharp and clear as the iPhone 14 Pro’s, and I always choose Apple’s phone for voice-over recording.

If you own another Android phone

Samsung voice recorder Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

What if you don’t own a Pixel phone? If you own a Samsung Galaxy phone — like the Galaxy S23 Ultra or Galaxy Z Flip 5 — the stock Voice Recorder app has similar functionality to Apple’s Voice Memos. It has easy one-touch recording and editing features, including the ability to skip silent sections and save and replace sections. Samsung goes a step further than Google with its cleanup tool, as you can fast forward or rewind a recorded file in just 3 seconds. What is this for maximum control? There is also a speech-to-text function, but it is not very accurate and only produces a transcription in a maximum of 10 minutes.

If you don’t have a Samsung phone and want an app that works on any Android phone, I’ve used Dolby On before and recommend it. It’s free to use, unlike most other voice recording apps available on the Google Play Store that require you to pay for a “Pro” version to unlock more advanced features. Dolby On is easy to use and has a feature that other apps don’t have, namely the ability to record in lossless quality.

Dolby on Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

The app also promises to apply various enhancements to the file after recording, including noise reduction, EQ, and volume normalization. There are also a few different filters to apply to your file as well, all of which work well as standard recording can be quite sharp and echoy. The app is designed to record your own voice and files can be instantly shared on Soundcloud, but it works just as well for recording an interview.

If you find yourself in need of a voice or audio recording app, don’t just go to your phone’s app store and pick the first one you see. Try the free, stock apps on your phone first, as they’ll likely be more than powerful and feature-packed enough for most people. I’ve certainly never needed more when recording interviews, and you probably haven’t either.

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