There are a couple of iconic scenes in Mad Men where Don Draper is fresh off the “motivation buzz” from a glass of whiskey (oh the sweet 60s), he’s relaxing on his couch and is holding a voice recorder in one hand. There he is, effortlessly recording his thoughts for his next big ad. I’m a big fan of Don Draper, but these scenes stand out particularly for me. Because I can’t do that. I can’t lay in a sunlit office in a skyscraper, casually day drinking, recording my thoughts that someone else would then transcribe and edit.
But here in reality land, I can get pretty close to that last part. Another reason I’m so attached to that scene isn’t purely because of the glamor but about the simplicity – the intimacy of creating voice notes. I’m not one of those “we had it better back then” guys, but after trying out a couple of dozen note taking services and trying to organize all of my notes, I do appreciate simplicity.
In the modern times, voice notes are a necessity. You don’t always have time to write things down, even if you always have your smartphone with you. A voice memo is the quick and dirty way. Read on to bring a piece of Don Draper in your Android life (specifically to the home screen, via widgets).
1. Google Keep
Google Keep is Google’s own note taking service available for Android and the web. The Android app has a great widget with a shortcut to the voice note feature. Using Keep you can come the closest to the Don Draper scenario. Because not only will Keep record your voice, it will also transcribe it for you. Using Google’s pretty awesome speech-to-text engine, you’ll end up with both your voice and the transcription in the same note. And you didn’t even need to hire a secretary.
If all you want to store is the resultant text, you can also use Google Now’s voice search and say “note to self…” and the transcribed note will be added to Google Keep. Here you can also change the note taking app from Google Keep to Evernote.
Like any other overly feature-rich note taking suite, Evernote has a voice notes component. You can add it as a widget on the home screen. But this is purely a voice recording feature, there’s no transcribing like with Google Keep. If Evernote is your default note taking app, you should probably try to manage your voice notes with it as well.
But the problem is that the interaction isn’t quick. When you press the recording button, Evernote opens the app and then starts the recording process. While that doesn’t sound like much, it’s still a delay that’s a disadvantage when we’re talking about spur-of-the-moment recordings.
Which leads us to the next option.
3. Easy Voice Recorder
I thought the Play Store would be riddled with dedicated voice memo apps. Have they never seen Mad Men? Turns out, no, they haven’t (or maybe they watched Louis in Suits, creepily using his voice recorder, and decided against making an app). There aren’t that many great voice memo apps and when you talk about an easy-to-use widget, the list narrows down further. From my research, that’s just one. One voice memo app that still uses the Halo design language (that’s two generations old at this point). But it works, and it works well.
Easy Voice Recorder will let you take mono voice notes for free. You can upgrade to the paid version for stereo recording, support for external mics, removing ads, and more.
Easy Voice Recorder is the app that avid voice notes users should go for. It has a great collection of widgets. You can start, pause, and stop recording right from the widgets. This means no loading screens, no waiting for the app to launch. This is the fastest way to take voice notes.
The app also makes it easy to manage voice notes. You can go in and edit titles for notes and better manage them.
Additional Alternative: If a widget is not a necessity, check out Sony’s Audio Recorder app. You get stereo and lossless recording with a clean interface, all for free.
How Do You Take Notes?
Do you use an old school notepad, a complicated note management system or just something simple? Share with us in the comments below.