How to get Pixel 4's killer Recorder app on your older Pixel

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One of my favorite additions to the Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL has been Google's new Recorder app, which taps into Google's software smarts to offer live, real-time transcription of your recordings.

This is a real time-saver, as I've learned covering Qualcomm's Snapdragon 865 launch this week, as I can record interviews, tap a button and get a transcript of the audio file I've just created that I can then copy and edit.

And now Recorder is no longer restricted to the latest Pixels. Google has released the app to its Play Store, where you can download it to other Pixel phones, including the lower-cost Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL.

If you have a Pixel 2 or later, you should head to Google Play right now and download Recorder. It's one of the biggest productivity boosters I've used in a while.

The transcription isn't perfect: Recorder doesn't distinguish between different speakers, and it has a bit of a problem detecting when one sentence ends and another begins. Background noise can also affect the accuracy of what Recorder transcribes, and the feature only works with English at present. But giving you a starting point to edit your transcript, it's certainly better than starting from scratch.

Even better, Recorder highlights words in the transcript as you play your recording, making it easy to jump to the portion of the text that may need cleaning up. Your recordings are also indexed, so that you can jump to a specific part of the recording just by typing a word or phrase. And all this happens on your phone, without your recordings being uploaded to the cloud.

There's no word from Google on whether Recorder will find its way to other Android phones.

Philip Michaels

Philip Michaels is a Managing Editor at Tom's Guide. He's been covering personal technology since 1999 and was in the building when Steve Jobs showed off the iPhone for the first time. He's been evaluating smartphones since that first iPhone debuted in 2007, and he's been following phone carriers and smartphone plans since 2015. He has strong opinions about Apple, the Oakland Athletics, old movies and proper butchery techniques. Follow him at @PhilipMichaels.