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Google Recorder takes top app honors in Tom's Guide Awards 2020

Google Recorder
(Image credit: Tom's Guide/Google)

Call us biased, but Google Recorder isn’t just the best app of the year — it’s quite simply a journalist’s best friend. 

It’s a bit ridiculous to think that up until very recently, voice recording apps with the ability to conduct transcription on the fly were still rare. Most examples don’t bother converting audio to text, and the ones that do — like Otter, for example — charge extra for the privilege. And if those limitations aren’t frustrating enough, practically all software with the feature requires an internet connection for transcription.

But then Google Recorder came along with the Pixel 4 and everything changed. Google’s app not only does live transcription — it does it extremely accurately, does it for free and does it without having to send the audio to a far off server someplace to spit back the text. It’s also clever enough to tag recordings based on their content and contextual information, like the location where the clip happened. Finally, the fact everything you record is searchable via the Google Assistant is just icing on the cake.

So perhaps it’s no surprise that Google Recorder very quickly became a favorite app of the Tom’s Guide staff. We happen to have a few Pixel handsets in-house, and our writers and editors often ask for one right before heading into an interview. Which brings us to our one lone gripe about the software: It’s still exclusive to Google’s phones. You can sideload it to most other Android devices, but whether or not it will work depends on the manufacturer that built your handset.

Here’s hoping Google rolls it out to a wider release soon. Recorder is a revolution in note-taking, whether you’re in class, a meeting or interviewing someone — and it’s so damn handy, it deserves to be on any phone with the capability to run it.