This month, I thought we might look at apps that are useful in meetings. Whether we’re meeting one-on-one with someone or in a larger group, there’s got to be some stuff for our beloved Droids that will help us!
One of the great (but rarely remembered) truisms of the corporate world is that the person who writes the minutes controls the meeting. For most meetings, the minute taker can write pretty much anything he or she wants, and people will go along with it.
Okay, maybe that’s a little cynical, but the truth is that people don’t always hear the same things in meetings, and therefore the minutes sometimes come as a surprise.
Having a voice recording of the meeting would be helpful. Taking notes at the same time would be even more helpful. Syncing those notes to the appropriate places in the recording would be the cat’s pajamas!
Enter AudioNote, from Luminant Software, Inc ($4.99). It does exactly what I’ve described above. You start a recording, and as you take notes on the meeting, AudioNote syncs the notes to the recording. When you go back to your notes, tapping on one will play the recording from that point! Theoretically, that can lead to agreement; in my experience, that generally just leads to more argument about what people really meant.
I have very few nits to pick with the app itself. There’s no equivalent app for your desktop, which would make the product so very much more useful for transcribing notes after a meeting. Of course, Luminant Software seems to be mostly an Apple house; this is their only Android product, and they haven’t much for Windows and nothing for Linux.
You can, of course, send the files you create with AudioNote to your computer. They seem to be a standard POSIX tar archive, so there are a lot of programs you can use to pull the data out of them. The text is in an XML file; I’m not going to try to decode that for you here. The audio is in a .3gp file. Windows Media Player, mplayer, VLC, and a dozen other programs will play them.
Personally, I’m very dissatisfied with the quality of the microphone in the ASUS Eee Pad Transformer. Everybody sounds like Sylvester the Cat. And the speakers are very low, as well. I find AudioNote to be basically unusable on the Transformer. I’m kind of surprised that ASUS would put such a truly terrible microphone in their tablet.
Evernote (free) is a bit different from AudioNote. First, there is audio, and you can type notes, but they don’t sync the way they do in AudioNote. To make up for it, you can keep photos, to-do lists, task lists, documents – whatever you like. You can search – in fact, you can search inside pictures for text, apparently… I didn’t get a chance to try that yet, but you can bet I will!
The big thing that makes Evernote so terrific is that it works everywhere – There are Windows and Mac clients, iPhone/iPad and Android clients, and even a Web client! They’ll all automatically sync to the Web, so anything you put into Evernote is available everywhere. That’s hard to beat!
Very few. Sure, there’s the fact that if you go with a Premium account (a paltry $45/yr) you get more storage, more formats, and collaborative editing. I suppose I could hate the fact that those things aren’t free, but I don’t. There’s still the problem that the lousy mic on the Transformer isn’t any better in Evernote than it is in AudioNote. But I’m pretty sure we can’t blame that on either Evernote or AudioNote.
If you’re the sort of person who spends inordinate amounts of time in meetings, you might want to take a look at these apps. Certainly give Evernote a try; it’s free – what do you have to lose? And you might find that one of these apps is just what you need!
A Question for You
Have you used any of these apps? What do you think? Equally, do you have a Transformer? Does your microphone suck? Let me know!