A picture of a generic audio recording app on a smartphone

Audio transcription tools enable listeners to give their undivided attention to a speaker, freeing up hands and eyes from note taking. These apps can help to foster a more engaging group dynamic in the moment. Afterward, listeners can go back to review the transcribed conversation, lecture or interview for additional detail, nuance and understanding.

Transform Talk to Text

Of course, auto-transcription is the fastest way to accomplish the task of transcription, but today’s technology is not yet precise. The error rate of auto-transcription makes it undesirable for professional-level audio production or journalism. Even so, for personal use auto-generated transcripts can help speed up creation time when writing or studying. Emerging voice-to-text engines running on mobile devices are now advancing the precision of auto-transcription and are often free, making them ideal solutions for individual use. Students may find these tools helpful for taking notes in class, especially if they have no budget for transcription services.

There are a range of transcription service types from personal to professional quality. Auto-transcription can be a good personal solution, though the error rate can be high. The advantages are that the transcription speed is fast and, in some cases, can be done in real time. Next, there are open source transcription solutions which can be great for people who are savvy with programming. Many of the open source solutions are more precise than auto-transcription. Finally, there are human speech-to-text transcription services. These services normally result in the least number of errors, but are the most expensive because they require the intervention of a human in the transcription process.

Make Use of Tools

Let’s take a look at voice-to-text engines that are becoming increasingly useful for audio transcription.

Dragon Dictation

Dragon Dictation runs on the Dragon engine and is an iPhone app that and transcribes audio live. It can send transcripts via email or social media.


Speechloger is an Android app that runs on the Google speech-to-text engine. It can transcribe live and send transcripts via email or social media. This service also runs in Chrome browser.


Ava is a voice-to-text app that is marketed as an accessibility tool, but enables live transcription services as other voice-to-text engines do. Ava works on both iOS and Android devices and sends transcripts via email or social media.


This free web app is different from the three above in that it is used to streamline manual transcription. The interface allows you to upload audio and video files in the formats supported by the browser you are using (it also allows you to use an address to a Youtube video) during the transcription process. If you have made an audio  or video recording in addition to an auto-transcript, this tool can make the process of cleaning up that transcript quick and easy.

Share Your Resources

When paired with audio recordings, voice-to-text apps provide individuals with basic audio transcription services that certainly can save time. Is there a free transcription tool you have found useful?

Although it is not required in all states, it is good professional practice to get consent from individuals before recording.