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Summary:

[appreview] title=Quick Voice Pro image=http://gigapple.files.wordpress.com/2009/05/appicon_quick_voice_pro2.png price=$0.99 url=http://itunes.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewSoftware?id=285877935&mt=8 rating=bronze [/appreview] By converting your voice messages into text e-mails, Quick Voice Pro could be a time-saving boon for busy iPhone owners. Empowered by our emails, tweets, IM conversations, and blogs, we’ve become modern-day information conduits. We collect knowledge, […]

[appreview]
title=Quick Voice Pro
image=http://gigapple.files.wordpress.com/2009/05/appicon_quick_voice_pro2.png
price=$0.99
url=http://itunes.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewSoftware?id=285877935&mt=8
rating=bronze
[/appreview]

By converting your voice messages into text e-mails, Quick Voice Pro could be a time-saving boon for busy iPhone owners.

Empowered by our emails, tweets, IM conversations, and blogs, we’ve become modern-day information conduits. We collect knowledge, then discharge it into the ether, spurting out a constant fountain of fact, fiction and entertainment.

Quick Voice Pro is a new tool that could make sharing your thoughts even easier. The app converts audio recordings into text-based e-mails, using an online voice-recognition system.

Learning To Talk

If there’s a thought on the tip of your tongue, Quick Voice Pro immediately accommodates: The app loads up in a snap and is ready to record from the off. You’re able to open the software, blurt out whatever is on your mind, and get it converted, all in a short amount of time.

The layout of the app is incredibly simple, too, meaning there’s no possibility of friction with the interface. All the different functions are presented on one page; plus, there’s no settings screen and absolutely no configuration needed for first-time users.

appreview_quick_voice_pro_screenshot

While the tech-savvy may be impressed with the app’s advanced voice-recognition capabilities, Quick Voice Pro really seems to have been designed with novice users in mind, offering a big red record button and a large play button. And it doesn’t feel patronizing, either. The app simply incorporates well-considered, functional design.

It’s not all perfect, though. Recordings are all named MyRecording by default, which will make sifting through them a real chore for regular users. There is a button for renaming recordings, but it just doesn’t feel as intuitive as it could in comparison to the rest of the app.

Speaking of Email

Tapping the record button initiates record mode. Although you can’t go back and edit a recording once you’ve saved it, there is a pause button, letting pensive people stop for a moment and gather their thoughts before continuing.

appreview_quick_voice_pro_record

Once recorded and saved, the app can auto-generate an e-mail for you, leaving you to enter the from and to address. The body copy of the email will be your recorded message. The actual voice-to-text conversion doesn’t happen on the iPhone; it’s all handled server-side. There was a major issue that stood out with the emailing process: The subject line always reads, “You Have QuickVoice Mail!” There’s no way to change it, and so effectively, you’re sending your contacts a message headed with an advertisement for the app.

Speaking Aloud

UK-based startup Spinvox provides the voice-to-text recognition and conversion. It’s incredibly accurate, which was surprising, and of note was that it’s comfortable with long words and both American and English accents.

appreview_quick_voice_pro_email

To test the app, I made up a nonsensical sentence with a few long, potentially clumsy-sounding words thrown in:

“Rebellious, insidious individuals, find it highly probably that they will be libelous for their erroneous actions.”

This was then converted to the following:

“Rebelious(?) insidious individuals, find it highly probable that they will be libelous for the erroneous actions.”

Voice to text email brought to you by QuickVoice.

Note the question marks on words the software is unsure of. It’s a nice touch, clarifying that it has taken a chance and may be incorrect.

Summing Up

During testing, I found that messages take around 10 minutes to convert and arrive in the recipient’s mail box. Considering the impressive degree of accuracy, this is an acceptable amount of time.

appreview_quick_voice_pro_30_second_limit

On the flip side, there’s a 30-second limit to all recordings — this can wind up being a drag if you’ve got a lot to say, however, it’s understandable. SpinVox probably doesn’t want people clogging up its server, trying to convert entire hour-long presentations.

The only substantial problem is that, since this isn’t a free app, it doesn’t seem fair that paying users are responsible for spreading advertising it via email subject lines. And, just in case your contacts didn’t notice the branded subject, the message text always ends with, “Voice to text email brought to you by QuickVoice.”

The voice-to-text conversion works, however, I would hesitate to send any emails that contain such clear advertising for a product that, while effective, sees its users as billboards rather than valued customers.

This could have been a Silver TheAppleBlog Award, but, due to its uncalled-for product placement, Quick Voice Pro earns a Bronze.

  1. I could have missed it, but I didn’t see it clearly stated in the article, does the speech recognition is done at their servers or in the iphone? If the former, then all your recordings have to go over to their site to be converted? In this day and age not sure if I really want another layer going through whatever I say, no matter how good engineering it is.

    Cool idea and I had a friend asked me for something similar just the other day.

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    1. I was thinking how this would be a fantastic way to transcribe your podcast (provided that your podcast is done in 1 take). Then I read about the 30 second limit.

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  3. Quick Voice Pro sounds good, but I don’t like to free advertising for the app in the subject line either, nor that it’s a hassle to change the name of the sound file. It looks as if I’ll still be carrying my Olympus voice note taker around.

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  4. @HobbesDoo – The voice recognition does indeed occur server-side. It’s undertaken by a UK company (separate to the app developer), called Spinvox. I’d be interested to find out a little more about Spinvox’s privacy and data retention policy, given the recent changes in UK laws.

    @Angela Booth – The voice-recognition is fantastic. If you’re using your Olympus voice note taker for personal notes, I recommend Quick Voice Pro for converting your words to text. However, I think it would be worth your while to check out Evernote for iPhone. It’s free, it takes voice notes and it syncs with your desktop.

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  5. The conversion accuracy is impressive because the message is handled by someone sitting in a call centre, South Africa is one location, who types the message out.

    It’s a well known fact that Spinvox relies heavily on human intervention to convert their messages.

    Voice to text is a fantastic idea it’s just that the technology is not there yet.

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  6. @text – Really? I wasn’t aware of that. Upon further research I turned this up:

    http://www.spinvox.com/how_it_works.html – No mention of human intervention

    But also this (which discusses human listeners):

    http://blog.tmcnet.com/blog/rich-tehrani/unified-communications/voicemail-transcription-patent.html

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  7. I was thinking how this would be a fantastic way to transcribe your podcast (provided that your podcast is done in 1 take). Then I read about the 30 second limit.

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  8. Hi Olly

    I have a friend who works at Spinvox so know for sure that they use call centres and whilst they do have some voice recognition software the accuracy is really not very good at all. Which is why they need the human intervention.

    If they had the technology Microsoft would have snapped them up years ago.

    If Spinvox was a true technology play I would be a huge fan but it really annoys me that human intervention plays such a large part of the process and it is never mentioned by the company.

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  9. @text – Very interesting, I’d love to hear their response on this!

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  10. George Hegedus Thursday, June 4, 2009

    I have the paid version of Quick Voice Pro on my iPhone, but when I email the recording to someone, the application does not access my contacts on my phone. Any idea why this would be left off. So I have to add sender’s email addresses all from memory.

    Seems like something that should have been included in the software programming

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