Dave Bullock / eecue

photographer, programmer, husband,
photojournalist, caver, blogger, search and rescuer,
angeleno, foodie, hacker, nerd, geek, human

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Jott Alternative: reQall

Thanks to an unfortunate functionality change at the speech-to-text service Jott, I recently switched to reQall. Current generation speech-to-text (S2T) services allow you to call a toll-free number, record a short message and then actual humans transcribe your speech into text.

On my commute to and from work, I frequently think of new ideas for projects or tasks that I need to complete. I simply hit the S2T autodial and record whatever is on my mind. The S2T service then emails me the transcribed text.

OmniFocus, which I wrote about recently, has a nifty feature in which it grabs an email from Apple Mail with a predetermined sender and subject. It then adds the subject, which has the note in it, to my todo inbox. I think that S2T is one of my favorite tools of all time.

When I first heard of Jott, I was a bit skeptical. I didn't like the idea of a random person in some random country being paid a pittance to sit in a call center to listen to my thoughts and transcribe them. As I thought more about it, I realized that I would rarely if ever say anything confidential to the S2T service. So I started using Jott six months ago and I loved it. It was in beta and totally free.

Jott had some features that I rarely used, like the ability to send messages to any of my contacts. It also had features that I used every day, including its core function, speech-to-text. Once my note had been transcribed, an email with the note in the subject appeared in my inbox.

Recently, Jott stopped its beta program. In doing so it created a free plan, called Jott Express, which still allowed you to do S2T. The deal-killer was the fact that you now had to visit their website to retrieve the transcribed text.

That change broke my OmniFocus script. OmniFocus was expecting the transcribed text to show up in the email. There went the value of the service for me. I initially considered paying for the service, but decided to sleep on it.

I twittered a request for a Jott promo code, but instead got a response from a friendly hacker to check out reQall.

ReQall has the same basic functionality as Jott, but it's free. So far I have been very impressed with reQall. Its voice interface is slicker and more responsive than Jott's. ReQall also does a better job of transcribing my voice notes than Jott did.

All in all I'm very happy with reQall. If they end becoming a paid service I would choose them over Jott in a heartbeat.

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Jott: Free Phone Based Transcription Service

Jott is a free transcription service that makes sending notes and reminders a phone call away. I signed up for their free service and verified my phone number a few months ago. All I have to do is call a toll-free number form my cell and talk. A few minutes later a full transcription of what I said is waiting in my inbox.

It helps to speak slowly and spell out any hard to understand or uncommon words. Jott doesn't use voice recognition software for the transcription, they have people doing the work. Due to that fact I don't use Jott for anything sensitive or secret.

I use Jott almost every day on my drive home from work. Writing while driving is somewhat inconvenient not to mention dangerous. I have Jott in my phone favorites and when I have an idea I just call the number and leave a message.

I also use Jott to message contacts in my address book. When I call in they ask me who I want to Jott. The message ends up being transcribed, then emailed and sms'ed to the contact.

Jott is a service that I have really learned to love. It is one of those rare things in life that are free and awesome. If it becomes a for-pay service I will still use it. Now that's a sign of a good thing.

52781 Sculpture

A sculpture consisting of outdated telephone switch parts adorns the wall of the AT&T building in Downtown Los Angeles in this file photo from 2007. Modern day telephone systems use computers instead of physical switching relays.