All Articles
All Articles

Two iPhone Recording Applications

by Brian Fichtner
on 16 March 2009
In the race for best iPhone recording application, there are over a dozen contestants but few finalists. After surveying a handful, we're placing Griffin's iTalk and Zarboo's SpeakEasy in the winner's circle. While neither application is flawless, both get kudos for interface design, ease of use and file tagging.

Ever since I lost my digital recorder, I've resorted to using my iPhone for interviews and the occasional concert bootleg. For some time, I've used the free, ad-supported version of iTalk, which is identical to iTalk Premium ($5), but comes with a small banner ad at the bottom of the iPhone screen. Using an iPhone for recording interviews isn't ideal, since the mic is mono-directional, but it's sufficient. ITalk boasts a clutter-free interface that allows for starting/stopping and selecting recording quality with one finger. Using the accelerometer, the app can even monitor the recording levels and file size with the iPhone's mic pointed toward the sound source, flipping the interface 180 degrees so the user can read it.


SpeakEasy ($2) definitely takes the trophy for having a slick interface and the kind of details that come from listening to user feedback. A series of four rotating icons provide the basic functions of recording and playback. The second icon gives the option of either starting the new recording over, playing it back, trashing it or saving it. Once saved, you can name the recording, add notes, categorize it and even tag it with a photo (by selecting from your camera library or taking new photo). Clever details include an auto-pause when answering incoming phone calls and auto-save when hitting the home button. (ITalk also does the latter but won't update the icon with a reminder that you have a new recording.) You also have the option of saving a recording that's 40 seconds or less as a ringtone.


Because Apple has yet to open the iTunes back door to third party app developers, both of these applications suffer from rather inelegant file transfer systems. Getting these recordings into iTunes is no simple matter of dock and sync. While Speakeasy may win in the user interface category, iTalk comes out on top with its wireless file transfer. Using iTalk Sync, users must first enable the iPhone's Wi-Fi, then open the iTalk application. Once those steps are complete, the two apps can talk to one another and you can select the desired recording to be imported into iTunes.


For SpeakEasy, at first glance the transfer process looks simple, though it turns out to be somewhat clumsy. In order for SpeakEasy Connect to recognize new recordings, you must first back-up the iPhone. After my first import, the second round of recordings wouldn't show up until I disconnected the iPhone, quit both SpeakEasy Connect and iTunes, reconnected the iPhone and synced it. Lastly, there's the question of file transfer speed. I was able to transfer a 2.8mb AIFF iTalk recording using WiFi in under ten seconds. The exact same recording length in SpeakEasy, a 265kb AAC file, took two minutes with SpeakEasy Connect!

So, who comes out a hair ahead in this photo finish? Both apps are great. If you're looking for something purely functional, iTalk is the way to go. If you want some bells and whistles, and you don't mind waiting for the inexplicable delays in file transfer, then SpeakEasy is the app for you.

The CH25 is a showcase of creators and innovators from a broad range of disciplines who are currently working to drive the world forward.

Joshua Harker

Pushing the boundaries of sculpture with intricate 3D printing

Read More
My intent was to explore and depict the architecture of the imagination, to interpret and share forms evident in the mind’s eye

Sarah Kunst

The entrepreneur single-handedly changing the landscape for women in tech

Read More
People who live on a planet that is half women but can never seem to find any when they need one, I have solved your problem

Cynthia Breazeal

How an emotional, empathetic robot named Jibo stands to revolutionize communication

Read More
The thing that's so provocative about social robots is that it's fundamentally a community technology

Sabine Seymour

A future where smart clothes are as ubiquitous as zippers

Read More
In the future you will not buy a piece of 'functional' clothing without SoftSpot

LaToya Ruby Frazier

Documenting the slow, troubling change in Braddock, Pennsylvania

Read More
I am not a journalist, I am a conceptual documentary artist using my visual expression for building narratives that are unseen and unheard

Tal Danino

The bioengineer who’s programming DNA to fight cancer

Read More
[Manipulating genes] is very new, people are just learning how to program these organisms

Lulu Mickelson

A civic leader bringing change to NYC through design

Read More
Human-centered design is one of the many tools that we can use to better engage the public

Matt Kenyon

Fusing art and technology to disrupt concepts of corporate America

Read More
I want the work to live in the world and circulate, so it can generate more dialogue

Corinne Joachim Sanon

The chocolatier bringing social change to Haiti and bean-to-bar chocolate to the world

Read More
Seeing the poverty surrounding me and the lack of jobs and opportunity bothered me

Melissa Kushner

Addressing the needs of orphans and vulnerable children in Malawi through microenterprise

Read More
Poverty is complicated, there is an increasing temptation and pressure in the development space to oversimplify things

Alex Kalman

The tiny museum in Manhattan that’s redefining museums

Read More
The mission is to put this small simple and powerful tool into the hands of as many people as possible

Tarren Wolfe

The next-generation appliance making kitchens greener—literally

Read More
Our goal is to provide food for everyone in the world, and the best place to start is in our very own community

Roxie Darling

From un-shampoo to transgender identity, the NYC colorist boldly defining the next chapter of hair

Read More
Hair color is as much a science as it is a craft

Dan Barasch + James Ramsey

A quest to make the future brighter—underground

Read More
We both share a passion for groundbreaking technology and a shared love of New York

Douglas Riboud + Justin Guilbert

How a mission to create great coconut water led to a whole new way of doing business

Read More
We’ve made a conscious decision to be as transparent and honest as we can, and let people decide for themselves

Marcus Weller

Using technology to turn motorcycle helmet design on its head

Read More
I was taken aback both by the number of people that doubted it, and by the equally large number of people that got behind it

Eelke Plasmeijer

The locally driven restaurant that’s upending Balinese food culture

Read More
We really try to keep things simple and let the produce do the talking

Meredith Perry

How searching the Internet helped a 22-year-old invent wireless electricity

Read More
It’s not about where the information is, it’s about how you use the tools

Pauline van Dongen

The Dutch designer blazing the wearable technology path

Read More
I’m fascinated by concepts of change, movement, energy and perception; since they are closely related to the way we experience the world

Jonathan Sparks

Reinventing electronic music by inventing multi-disciplinary instruments

Read More
Recorded music is becoming so cheap, so the value of music is now in live performance

Kegan Schouwenburg

Revolutionizing orthotics through 3D-printed insoles

Read More
What orthotics do is they effectively change the geometry of what your alignment is like

George Arriola and Monohm

An heirloom electronic for the post-smartphone era

Read More
We agonized during the design process as all hyper-obsessed craftspeople should

Leopoldine Huyghues Despointes

The young filmmaker and non-profit founder who just wants people to follow their dreams

Read More
I feel confident and ready to accomplish so much more, the movement is on

Kathleen Supové

The NYC performance artist who’s radically reinventing the piano recital

Read More
I like pieces that are virtuosic, that show off the piano and what it can do, and are awe-inspiring

Vanessa Newman

Redesigning pregnancy for the post-gender generation with Butchbaby & Co.

Read More
I want my customers to feel comfortable and unchanged, in that becoming pregnant didn't take away from or compromise their identity
Loading More...