Voice2Note for Evernote: Live Evaluation

Of the various note formats Evernote accepts, the one I use least is voice notes. They’re easy enough to create, but you just can’t skim through audio notes like text or images. Examining an audio note requires listening to at least part of it. One way around that problem is transcription, and that’s where Voice2Note comes in.

Voice2Note is a service powered by Dial2Do that transcribes Evernote audio notes into text. It’s a great enhancement if you already use audio notes and quite an incentive to get talking. Best of all, in addition to working with audio notes you leave in Evernote via a mobile app, the service includes the ability to phone in your notes. It makes leaving a voice note in Evernote literally as easy as making a phone call.

While I haven’t yet gotten in the habit of creating voice notes, I have tried on several occasions to start the practice. First it was on my slate Tablet PC, then on my IPAQ Pocket PC, and most recently in Evernote on my iPhone. Again, they were easy enough to create, but my interest waned when it came to reviewing those notes. Automatic transcription, I believe, could bridge that final gap for me. I’m putting that theory to the test with a 30-day live evaluation of the pro version of Voice2Note.

For the test period, I’ll be leaving regular voice notes in a public folder of my Evernote account cleverly titled “Voice2Note.” This evaluation will be live and public, meaning all the notes I create will be online and anyone can judge the accuracy of the transcriptions for themselves. I am making the effort to vary the content, so the notes won’t be just the date and time. Contents will include my daily lists errands, followed by rundowns of what was actually accomplished. If I hear a good joke, I’ll throw that in too. But that’s just the raw test data. I’ll be wrapping it up with a summary at the end of the evaluation period, so you won’t have to go through 30 days of me talking to see if Voice2Note works. I’m just putting it out there to make the evaluation completely transparent. In fact, let me disclose now that I am using a voucher to waive the pro version fee of $2.99 for this evaluation.

Thus far, the service has proven adequate for its purpose. The accuracy isn’t 100%, of course, but glancing through the transcript gives me a clear understanding of what I had said and makes it more searchable. I will be alternating between using the Evernote app on my iPhone and calling in notes via the dedicated phone number. So far, using the app, the transcription seems sharper (presumably because the audio is clearer) and offers the ability to edit the title, notebook, and tags right there. Phoning it in doesn’t offer those advantages, but it’s so simple. I did try emailing in a audio note taken with my iPhone’s Voice Memo app, but the format doesn’t work.

There are a few limitations to the service. Voice transcription is limited to the first 30 seconds of any note. You can talk all you want on one call or note, but only the first 30 gets transcribed. To call in a note, you must authorize your number and have called ID enabled. This prevents perverts from leaving obscene notes for you (except those you authorize). On a related subject, the service uses a combination of computerized transcription and human quality control. It’s completely anonymous, but just so you know (all my voice notes are published, so this doesn’t faze me). Finally, the service is available to all Evernote users, but it’s English only and uses a U.S. number for phone-in notes. That will limit its usefulness to international users.

So how much does it cost? That’s the best part – Voice2Note is a freemium service, so basic functionality is free. That limits you to five (5) transcripts per month with low priority for transcription. If you only create a few voice notes per month or don’t care if those after your first five aren’t transcribed, then you’re all set with basic. The Pro version offers unlimited transcripts, high priority, and automatic tagging of your call-ins with “voice2note”. Price is $2.99 per month or $29.99 for a year. The flexible pricing means you can sign up for the basic service and bump up to Pro as needed, like for a business conference or vacation where you want to record your impressions.

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But if you’re still not sure, I’ll be evaluating it live in a public Evernote notebook for 30 days. Depending on how things go (in either direction), I may offer my evaluation results and judgment in a couple of weeks, but the plan for now is to go one month. If you have any suggestions for note content, please feel free to share in the comments.

Comments

  1. Xavier Lanier says

    I’m trying out Voice2Note as well. The transcription seems decent, though not perfect. My favorite workflow is to download Google Voice messages and save them as notes. Messages often work as a starting point for a task/project. The most disappointing things so far is the 30 second limit. It’d be great to be able to turn an entire conversation into a note.
    Maybe they could charge users more (Say $6-$10/month) for those that wanted to record longer notes.

  2. Christine Frank says

    I have no idea how to use Voice2Note from the Evernote site. I placed an audio file there and don’t see a button for Voice2Note. The FAQ was no help. It’s a large file . . .but I bought the premium service. Help!

  3. joe says

    I’ve been transcribing by leaving myself Google Voice voicemails. Any voicemail from myself is set via a Gmail filter to autoforward to Evernote, including the transcription and a link to the audio file. So, it’s not as robust insofar as the audio file itself isn’t in Evernote, but the transcription is and I can stream the audio from the in-note link whenever I’m on a web-connected device.

    • Mike says

      Am I wrong in thinking this might have the benefit of not requiring a paid evernote account as the actual audio file isn’t in the note – but that using the app in the article would require a paid version of evernote?

      • Sumocat says

        Audio notes via the mobile app are included with the free Evernote service. I do not know if uploading audio in WAV or mp3 would be allowed as they have the same effect.

  4. Christine Frank says

    So, Joe (If you were responding to me, which, thanks if so) there is no way to place an acc file in Evernote (which I did) and locate some Voice2Note button or something, and it magically gets transformed into text (which is why I bought it?)

    I don’t see myself calling myself to say “remember to pick up eggs” and then expecting a note saying that to appear. That’s just not worth it to me.

    Really wishing for an owners manual, too . . .

      • Christine Frank says

        Thanks so much for answering – I had already signed up, though, paid, everything. I wanted something to transcribe aac files, not to send myself notes from my phone. Guess I got too excited when I read the description and I thought that merely HAVING an audio file in Evernote would enable it to be converted to text.

        Now I am wondering what to do with this — not really interested in sending myself notes to myself from a car, as in the picture!

        • Sumocat says

          Hi Christine,

          Sorry this was buried in my write-up. Audio notes recorded using the iPhone Voice Memo app are in m4a/aac format and are not transcribing when I email them to Evernote. I suspect this is simply because that’s not the format used by Evernote for direct voice notes. We can try to lobby Voice2Note to add the format.

        • Sumocat says

          Just confirmed file formats: Evernote iPhone app uses WAV. Voice2Note converts calls to mp3. I do not yet know if V2N only works on voice notes delivered through the two official methods (from the app or via phone call). I am testing now with uploaded WAV and mp3 files.

          • Christine Frank says

            Looking forward to hearing about it . . in the meantime, maybe I can convert the aac to wavs . . .

          • Sumocat says

            Good news, Christine: it’s the format. My first set of tests were clips from Star Wars. They were recognized but not transcribed (presumably for copyright reasons). The second set I recorded on my Tablet PC, converted to the right formats (proved a slight hassle), and uploaded via Evernote Web. So if you can record your notes in WAV or mp3, you should be good to go. That said, I too would find it useful if they could convert aac files, so let’s lobby for that as well.

  5. charles jannace says

    Hmmm, if I correctly understand this post, it seems to me that ReQall (on a small scale) and Dragon Dictation (on a larger scale) has been doing the voice to transcription feature for a very long time.

  6. Mike says

    If you are the type who never uses all the minutes on your cell then such verbal note taking can be great.
    Whenever I see something I want to remember – like perhaps a book which looks interesting but I want to see if my library has it before I buy it – then no need to search for pen/paper and remember later to get the note out of my pocket before it ends up in the wash.
    I just make a quick call with the author/title and voila.
    Same for music friends have which I like…
    Or any number of things which come up in coversation…

  7. David Topper says

    Garbage service with garbage customer support. Avoid Voice2Note and Dial2Note at all costs.

    The now defunct ReQall was heads and tails better than this junk.

    I cancelled this account because the quality of the service was so poor. NO REFUNDS.

    1) It took too long to get the first Prompt saying “Hello David, what would you like to do”

    
2) After stating what I would like to do such as “Reminder” the pause between stating the command and the next voice prompt was excruciating

    3) Sometimes the service wouldn’t understand my command at all and it would go in an endless loop requiring me to call back

    
4) The transcription was rarely close to what I actually said yet the voice recording was clear

    Before canceling, I spoke with their tech support and the response was basically “oh well, sorry about that, we know it can sometimes take awhile to connect” – Say What?

    Stay away. Use a free Google Voice account instead.

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