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While the increase in home working has its benefits, one unfortunate side effect has been the corresponding increase in virtual meetings.

Through the distractions of home life, the inherent limitations of the Zoom format, and just plain tedium, it can be difficult to focus on what’s being discussed.

Our recommendation: download Otter and turn those interminable Zoom calls into fully transcribed notes. Here’s how it’s done.

Sign up to Otter

Having downloaded the app from the App Store (it’s free), open it and sign up using your Apple, Google, or Microsoft account. Alternatively, you can do it the more laborious manual way.

Otter

Otter’s free Basic plan gives you 600 minutes of transcription and three imports per month. For many, that will be plenty – but you’ll need to sign up to Otter Pro if you want more of either, at a cost of $13/£13 per month.

It’s recording time

Now all you need to do is hit the Record button in the bottom right corner of the screen. Any speech that your iPhone picks up will be transcribed in real-time.

Otter can differentiate between different speakers, and will automatically mark them up as such in the notes.

Tap the camera icon to take and automatically insert a relevant picture as an additional memory aid. Tap the pen button to highlight the current stretch of text.

 

Recording options

Note that you won’t be able to record calls made through your iPhone. However, you can record any form of speech taking place on a laptop or tablet, such as a Zoom call. Just make sure your iPhone is close by, and that the volume is at a sufficient level.

Alternatively, you can sign up to Otter Business and take advantage of Otter Live Notes, which is an add-on for Zoom that will allow hosts to transcribe and share meetings in a side window on their computer. There’s also a Chrome extension for doing something similar in Google Meet.

Back to the iOS app, and Otter will keep recording in the background if you jump into a streaming app (such as YouTube), and will transcribe what’s being said on a video or some other form of recording.

It’s also possible to import existing recordings from iCloud for transcription. Just hit the import button in the top right corner of the app and navigate to the folder you’d like to import.

After recording

Once your meeting (or whatever you’re recording) is done, head back into Otter and hit the stop button. Your transcription will be saved as a new note accessible from the main page in the app.

Tap to enter the note and add a title for ease of navigation. You can now search the transcript using the top field, or by tapping one of the keywords that’s automatically generated by Otter.

From here you can also playback the audio, with controls for scrubbing and skipping backward and forwards along the bottom. The text will even be highlighted as the words are spoken.

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