Find the best AI-powered app to transcribe your audio
Whenever a popular online app announces a change in their fees or the services they offer for those fees, you’ll get a reaction from their subscribers—especially the long-term ones. The latest app to cause this kind of consternation is Otter, a recording and transcription service that recently announced downgrades in the services it offers on two of its plans and increased the price of a monthly plan.
For free users, this means they’ll no longer have access to all of their past transcriptions — just the last 25. For paying customers on Otter’s Pro plan, the change will be almost the same (or more drastic): you are downgraded from a monthly quota of 6,000 minutes of transcribed audio to 1,200 minutes and from a maximum of four hours of audio per conversation to 90 minutes.
This means that, for example, a reporter who used Otter to track interviews and could do up to 100 hour-long interviews per month is now limited to 20. Or someone who uses Otter to record doctor visits or conversations with elderly relatives have to remember to start a new recording after the 90 minutes are up.
To Otter’s credit, the company is trying to ease the pain of its paying customers – somewhat. While it increases its monthly fee from $12.99 to $16.99, its annual fee of $99.96 doesn’t change. And if you subscribe (or are already a subscriber) to the annual Pro plan by September 22nd, the next time you automatically upgrade, you’ll keep the older features for an additional year.
And then? Well, you’ll probably either put up with the reduced feature set, pay for Otter’s business plan ($240 per year), or find another service to use. But before we describe some of the alternatives, a few notes.
First, there are actually two types of transcription services: one that uses an AI engine and one that uses human transcribers. Although the use of AI to interpret and transcribe audio has improved significantly in recent years, it is still less accurate — but significantly less expensive — than human transcription. For this article, I’m looking at services that use AI transcription, although some of them offer both.
The quality of the transcription provided by these apps can vary widely – not only depending on the AI engine that the app uses, but also on your audio file. When many voices are speaking at the same time, when there is a lot of background noise, when your speakers have accents unfamiliar to the AI – all of these factors can contribute to affecting transcription accuracy. So it’s a good idea to try out a transcription service on a typical file to see how well it works.
And take a close look to see which app might be the most cost-effective for you. If you only need to upload a file occasionally, it’s best to choose either a free version or one of the pay-as-you-go services. If you upload regularly, a monthly or yearly subscription might be better for you.
If you’re an Otter subscriber and transcriptions are an important part of your personal, creative, or professional life, it’s worth finding out if any of these work better for you, or you should just stick with Otter, at least for now.
Temi is a simple transcription service that offers features such as the ability to review and edit your transcriptions, slow down playback, and export your files to text files (Microsoft Word, PDF) or subtitle files (SRT, VTT). With its mobile apps for Android and iOS, you can record audio; You can then transcribe it for a simple 25 cents per minute of audio, or upload your own recordings for the same price. New users get the first 45 minutes for free. (It also integrates with Rev, a service that offers human-performed transcription and other services.)
MeetGeek calls itself “an AI meeting assistant”. In other words, it focuses on meeting transcription (although it can be used for other audio). It has a free version that allows you to create transcripts from audio and video sources – you can record five hours of audio per month and keep a month’s worth. For $19/month or $180/year, a Pro version gives you 20 hours of audio per month and three months of transcript retention. There are also Business and Enterprise versions. New users get a 14-day trial of the Business plan, which costs $39 per month or $372 per year and gives you 40 hours of audio per month and six months of recording retention.
Trint’s website makes it clear that it offers its AI transcription services to creative users who take the transcription material and “easily transform transcripts into impactful content for blogs, social media, podcasts, and more.” According to Trint, it can transcribe into 32 different languages and translate finished transcriptions into 54 languages. The Starter plan ($60/month or $576/year) lets you transcribe up to seven files per month, record audio from Zoom and its iPhone app (there’s no Android app), edit and share transcripts, and text translate to 54 languages. The Advanced plan ($70/month or $720/year) adds unlimited transcription and lets up to 15 users edit at the same time. You can try the Advanced plan with a seven-day free trial.
Sonix offers automated translations in 35 languages. It includes the usual ability to edit your transcripts, a word-for-word timestamp, and the ability to upload transcripts from other programs and link them to new ones. You can export your transcripts in DOCX, TXT and PDF and export subtitles in SRT and VTT formats. It starts with a standard pay-as-you-go plan that costs $10 per hour of audio (prorated to the nearest minute), and you get 10GB of file storage for 90 days. There’s also a premium subscription ($5 per hour of audio plus $22/month or $198/year) that adds a bunch of features and 50GB of storage. New users get 30 free minutes of transcription.
Scribie primarily offers hand-transcribed services, but there’s also basic AI-assisted transcription available for 10 cents a word with a minimum of $1 per file. For that, you get an online editor, speaker tracking, and the ability to download it as a Word document or as an SRT/VTT subtitle file.