You know how it’s weird to hear a recording of your own voice? Now imagine that you have to do it every day, listening to the same part over and over again to make sure you’re accurately quoting whoever you’re talking to and wincing as you realize that you chortle every time the other person’s finished talking. Question. Response. Chortle. Repeat until you can’t bear the shame any longer, and then do it again just to be safe. Next question.
Rev has released a voice recording app for the iPhone to handle just that problem. You download the app, conduct your interview, and then, if you want, you pay to have someone else transcribe the conversation. Or you can go through the entire rigamarole without paying Rev anything and, thanks to Dropbox, make the audio readily available on almost any device.
“There are people who, to this day, are buying recorders that aren’t connected to the Internet and are unable to offer much functionality beyond recording and playing back audio,” says Rev CEO Jason Chicola. And though Apple offers a Voice Memos app on every iPhone, Chicola notes that many other companies have found success with applications that compete with Apple’s defaults. “Apple is great, but look at what Evernote has done to notes. Instagram has built a better photos app. We want to replace the Voice Memos app with our app. People want their audio to be useful, and they want it to be ubiquitous.”
The ubiquitous aspect is covered by Rev’s integration of Dropbox’s service. The usefulness aspect is covered by Rev itself, which offers transcription services for $1 per minute. Transcriptions are completed by freelancers — 80 percent of whom are based in the US, according to Chicola — who make more than 50-cents on the dollar and work part-time. Which means that, yes, you are paying someone over $30 per hour so you don’t have to listen to yourself sound like an idiot over and over again.
Chicola heralds this freelance network as one of Rev’s advantage over other transcription services that might rely on something like Mechanical Turk, Amazon’s marketplace for temporary, low-wage work. “There have been a handful of software guys who have tried to use Mechanical Turk, and they’ve all had the same experience, which is a lousy one,” he says. “Mechanical Turk is kind of a science project for Amazon — they built it for themselves and then just kinda put it out there.”
This is similar to what TaskUs, a wildly (and secretly) popular outsourcing service that encourages companies to make their remote workers a part of their organization instead of treating them as temporary — or disposable, even — tools.
Other apps offer features similar to Rev’s. I’m fond of one called DropVox, which costs $1.99 and literally does nothing besides record audio and upload it to my Dropbox folder. Wired’s Ryan Tate developed Typingpool, a Mechanical Turk-powered service freely available on the Web. And, of course, there is the default Voice Memos app that, despite its limitations, probably does a good enough job for many people.
But if you’d rather pay to have a smaller pool of freelancers transcribe audio gathered from a free iPhone application that also backs the audio up to Dropbox? Rev might just work for you.