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.

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.