How to Transcribe Voice Memos on an iPhone?

iPhone screen showing the Voice Memos app interface for transcribing audio to text.
Transcribe voice memos on your iPhone seamlessly with our simple, step-by-step guide.

Transkriptor 2024-01-17

iPhones are incredible devices that have so many uses and most people rarely use them as a phone nowadays. Instead, we use them for internet browsing, social media scrolling, and gaming!

One criminally underutilized function, however, is the ability to use your iPhone as a voice recorder and transcribe your voice memos.

This can be invaluable for studying, note-taking during meetings, and interviews for example. If this is something you could benefit from, I explain how to transcribe voice memos on iPhone devices below.

iPhone displaying Voice Memos app for easy transcription of recordings.
Transcribe voice memos on iPhone effortlessly into text documents.

What Are Voice Memos on iPhone ?

The Voice Memo app is pre-installed on iPhones and it can be found in your utilities folder. It essentially turns your iPhone into an audio recorder so instead of buying a dedicated device, you can simply use your phone.

It is not just an audio recorder but has a basic selection of editing tools too so you can trim audio files to cut out unimportant parts.

iPhone Voice Transcription Methods

The downside of the Voice Memo app is that it doesn’t have a built-in audio transcription tool. Therefore, if you want to transcribe your iPhone voice memos, you have to either get creative or use a third-party transcription service.

Transcribe voice memos on iPhone with Google Docs' voice typing feature.
Effortlessly transcribe iPhone voice memos directly on Google Docs.

Using Google Docs Voice Typing

If you have a desktop computer or laptop with a microphone or webcam you can get creative using the Google Docs voice typing feature. This is a tool that automatically types text in a blank Google Doc while an audio file is being played. To do this, you must take the following steps:

  1. Open the relevant voice memo on your iPhone.
  2. Open a blank Google Doc on your computer or laptop.
  3. Click on Tools > Voice Typing in Google Docs.
  4. Click on the microphone icon.
  5. Hold your iPhone speaker next to the computer microphone and play the voice memo.

As the memo is played, Google Docs should automatically type an audio transcription! The major drawback compared to a quality transcription service, however, is the limitation of the voice typing tool.

It can’t discern between different people and it just types the text it hears. This means that you typically have to edit the document afterward and add things like the speakers which makes it a time-consuming process.

Using a Third-Party App or Transcription Service

When looking at how to transcribe voice memos on an iPhone the best solution is to use a third-party app or transcription service. This takes away the manual work and makes sure that you get an accurate transcription complete with different speakers and context.

These services or apps transcribe audio files to text (such as iPhone voice memos) using advanced voice recognition software. The software can detect multiple voices and understand things like strong accents.

All you have to do is open your iPhone voice memo and press the share button. You can then either share the file directly with the transcription app installed on your iPhone (if the feature is available it should show up in the share options) or send it via email so you can upload it to an online transcription service.

Woman transcribing voice memos on iPhone with a laptop at hand.
Transcribe voice memos on your iPhone for fast, accurate text conversion.

Considerations When Taking Voice Notes With an iPhone

The Voice Memo app is especially useful and it is a great component in transcribing audio but there are some things you need to remember.

Understanding the controls

Before you jump into recording I advise taking the time to learn the controls. Understand how to start recording, and how to adjust settings like the volume, and how to playback recordings including rewinding and skipping through the audio clip.

Sharing voice memos

Next, you want to learn how to share your recorded voice memos. This includes learning where the default save location is for the audio files and the available sharing options.

Recording quality

You should consider the quality of the audio recording that an iPhone can produce. Newer models of the iPhone like the 14 have improved the mic quality but it generally doesn’t compare to a desktop mic or headset for example.

You can connect external devices such as a headset or mic, but this is trickier with iPhones as many later models do not have a 3.5mm audio jack and you can only use the lightning port which not many audio devices support.

Data privacy basics

Whenever recording any type of audio involving other people you must also comply with data privacy laws and act ethically and responsibly. Does the other person know they are being recorded and can you legally do it?

An iPhone Works as an Effective Audio Recorder Alternative

If you don’t want to invest in a portable audio recording device, your iPhone works as a fantastic alternative. The built-in microphone is decent but you can easily utilize an external microphone or headset for superior audio quality.

You can then use the Voice Memos app to record audio which can then be transcribed using an audio to text transcription service.

Frequently Asked Questions

The recording quality of iPhone voice memos is generally good, especially on newer models. However, it can be influenced by environmental factors like background noise. For optimal results, recordings should be done in a quiet environment, and considering the use of external microphones can enhance quality.

Yes, the iPhone Voice Memos app allows basic editing of recordings. Users can trim the start and end of voice memos to remove unnecessary parts.

Third-party transcription services transcribe iPhone voice memos by processing the audio file through advanced speech recognition software. Users can upload or share their voice memo file with the service, which then converts it into a text document.

To share a voice memo for transcription, open the Voice Memos app, select the memo, tap the share icon, and choose how you want to share it (e.g., via email, cloud storage). You can then send it to a transcription service or use other methods for transcription.

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