Whenever a popular online app announces a change to its fees, or in the services it provides for those fees, you’re going to get a reaction from its subscribers — especially the long-term ones. One app that caused this type of dismay was Otter, a recording and transcription service that, in August 2022, announced downgrades of the services it provides on two of its plans and raised the price on the monthly plan.
When a service you’ve used for a while makes radical changes in its prices and feature set, a natural reaction is to start shopping around to see if there are any viable alternatives.
There are two types of transcription services available online today: one that uses an AI engine and the other that uses human transcribers. The latter is usually much more accurate but is also considerably more expensive. As a result, a lot of people use AI-driven services to interpret and transcribe their audio, which is less expensive and usually reasonably, if not perfectly, accurate. So what we have supplied is a list of AI-powered transcription services for you to consider.
One thing to be aware of: the quality of transcription supplied by these apps can vary widely depending not only on the AI engine the app is using but also on the quality of your audio file. If there are a lot of voices talking at once, if there is a lot of background noise, if the speakers have accents unfamiliar to the AI — those can all serve to degrade the accuracy of the transcription. So a good idea is to try out a transcription service with a typical file to see how well it performs.
And consider which app could be most cost-effective for you. If you only need to upload an occasional file, it could be best to go with either a free version or one of the pay-as-you-go services. If you do regular uploads, then a monthly or annual subscription may work better for you.
Let’s start with the service that provided the impetus for this article.
Otter offers a fairly impressive range of services, including the ability to easily record Zoom and Google Meet meetings, automatically create an outline of your transcription or pull out highlighted phrases, and organize your transcriptions into folders and your contacts into groups.
As mentioned, there have been a variety of changes to the company’s prices and features. For example, free users will no longer have access to all of their past transcriptions — only the last 25. Paying customers who are on Otter’s Pro plan will be downgraded from a monthly allowance 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. (You can find an FAQ about these changes here.)
Otter tried to ameliorate the pain to its paying customers — somewhat. While it has raised its monthly fee from $12.99 to $16.99, its annual fee of $99.96 did not change. Otter’s Business plan ($30 a month or $240 annually) still has the 6,000 minutes per month / four hours per conversation allowance, along with other features.
Temi is a basic transcription service that offers such features as the ability to review and edit your transcriptions, slow down the replay, and export your files into text (Microsoft Word, PDF) or closed caption (SRT, VTT) files. Its mobile apps for Android and iOS allow you to record audio; you can then choose to transcribe it for a straightforward 25 cents per audio minute or upload your own recordings for the same price. New users get the first 45 minutes free.
Rev has been around for a while; until recently, it was mainly available for those who wanted human transcription services. The company has now introduced Rev Max, an AI transcription service that offers 20 hours of automated transcription services and unlimited Zoom transcripts for $29.99. (If you pass the 20-hour mark, you’ll be charged 25 cents a minute until your next month begins.) You also get a 5 percent discount on any human-based transcription services and no time limit on storage for your transcriptions. There is a 14-day free trial period, but you have to put in a credit card to get it.
MeetGeek calls itself “an AI meeting assistant.” In other words, its concentration is on transcribing meetings (although it can be used for other audio). It has a free version that lets you create transcripts from audio and video sources — you can record five hours of audio a month and retain one month’s worth. For $19 / month or $180 / year, a Pro version gives you 20 hours of audio a 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 a month or $372 a year and gets you 40 hours of audio a month and six months of recording retention.
Trint’s website makes it obvious that it’s pushing its AI transcription services to creative users who want to “share your story with the world.” According to Trint, it can transcribe in over 30 different languages and translate finished transcriptions into over 50 languages. The Starter plan ($60 / month or $576 / year) lets you transcribe up to seven files per month, capture audio from Zoom and its iPhone app (it doesn’t have an Android app), edit and share transcripts, and translate text to over 50 languages. The Advanced plan ($75 / month or $720 / year) adds unlimited transcription and lets up to 15 users edit simultaneously. A seven-day free trial lets you sample the Advanced plan.
Sonix offers automated translations in 35 languages. It includes the usual ability to edit its transcripts, a word-by-word timestamp, and the ability to upload transcripts from other programs and stitch 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 pay-as-you-go Standard plan that costs $10 an audio hour (prorated to the nearest minute), and you get 10GB of file storage for 90 days. There is also a Premium subscription plan ($5 per audio hour plus $22 / month or $198 / year) that adds a number of features and 50GB of storage. New users get 30 free minutes of transcription.
Scribie mostly offers manually transcribed services, but it does have simple AI-powered transcription as well 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 SRT / VTT subtitle file.
While MeetGeek concentrates on meeting transcriptions, Alice touts itself as a transcription service for journalists. The other services store your transcripts (some with time limits, some without) and let you edit them online, but Alice doesn’t; instead, it sends the audio file and the transcript to your email address and adds it to your Google Drive or Dropbox. Alice is pay-as-you-go: $9.99 for one or two hours of audio; $4.99 an hour for 20 hours; or $2.99 an hour for 100 hours. You get the first 60 minutes free and can use it with an iOS app or the web. There is no Android app.
If you have a Pixel phone, one of the easiest ways to get a decent transcription is to use Google’s free Recorder app. (If you have a non-Pixel Android phone, you may be able to download Recorder from the Play Store to see if it works.) To start a recording, you simply press a large red button. To pause, you press it again. Smaller buttons on either side let you delete or save the recording. Above the button is the timing of the audio, and above that are two buttons for Audio and Transcript. To see the text, tap Transcript. You can edit the text, search through it (this is Google after all), and share either the audio or the transcript. If you have a Pixel 6 and later, an updated version is said to enable different labels for different speakers — as this was written, my Pixel 6 had not yet acquired that feature.
Update January 6th, 2023, 9:00AM ET: This article was originally published on August 24th, 2022. Since then, several entries have been updated, including info about Otter’s Business plan, and entries for Rev Max, Alice, and Google Recorder have been added.