Whenever a popular online app announces a change in its rates, or in the services it offers for those fees, you get a response from its subscribers — especially long-term. The latest app to cause this kind of dismay is Otter, a recording and transcription service that recently announced downgrades of the services it offers for two of its plans and increased the price of a monthly plan.
For free users, this means they will no longer have access to all of their previous transcripts – just the last 25. For paying customers who have the Otter’s Pro plan, the change will be almost as (or more) drastic: they will be downgraded from a monthly fee of 6,000 minutes of transcribed audio to 1,200 minutes and from up to four hours of audio per call to 90 minutes.
This means that, for example, a reporter who uses Otter to track interviews and who could do up to 100 one-hour interviews per month is now limited to 20. Or someone who uses Otter to record doctor visits or conversations with elderly relatives will need to remember to start new recording after 90 minutes have passed.
To Otter’s credit, the company is trying to ease the pain for its paying customers — somewhat. While it increases its monthly fee from $12.99 to $16.99, the $99.96 annual fee does not change. And if you subscribe to the annual Pro plan (or are already a subscriber) before September 22, you’ll keep the older features for another year the next time you upgrade automatically.
And after that? Well, presumably you’ll either put up with the reduced feature set, pay for Otter’s Business plan ($240 per year), or find another service to use. But before we describe some of the alternatives available, a few notes.
First, there are actually two types of transcription services: one that uses an AI engine and the other that uses human transcribers. While the use of AI to interpret and transcribe audio has vastly improved in recent years, it is still less accurate — but significantly cheaper — than human transcription. For this article, I’m looking at services that use AI transcription, although some offer both.
The quality of transcription provided by these apps can vary widely – depending not only on the AI engine the app uses, but also on your audio file. If there are many voices talking at the same time, if there is a lot of background noise, if your speakers have accents that the AI doesn’t recognize – those factors can all contribute to the accuracy of the transcription decreasing. So it’s a good idea to try a transcription service with a typical file to see how well it performs.
And take a good look at which app is the most cost-effective for you. If you only need to upload a file once in a while, it’s best to opt for a free version or one of the pay-as-you-go services. If you upload regularly, a monthly or annual subscription may be better for you.
Finally, if you’re an Otter subscriber and transcripts are an important part of your personal, creative, or professional life, it’s worth finding out if one of these works better for you or if you should just stick with Otter , at least for now .
Temi is a basic transcription service that provides features such as the ability to view and edit your transcripts, slow down playback, and export your files to text files (Microsoft Word, PDF) or closed caption files (SRT, VTT). The mobile apps for Android and iOS allow you to record audio; you can then choose to transcribe it for 25 cents per audio minute or upload your own recordings for the same price. New users get the first 45 minutes for free. (It’s also folded into Rev, a service that provides human-operated transcripts and other services.)
MeetGeek calls itself “an AI meeting assistant.” In other words, the focus is on transcribing meetings (although it can be used for other audio as well). It has a free version that allows you to make transcriptions from audio and video sources – you can record five hours of audio per month and keep it for a month. For $19/month or $180/year, a Pro version gives you 20 hours of audio per month and three months of transcription retention. There are also Business and Enterprise versions. New users get a 14-day trial of the Business plan, which costs $39 per month or $372 per year, and you get 40 hours of audio per month and six months of recording retention.
Trint’s website makes it clear that it is pushing its AI transcription services to creative users who will use the transcription material and “effortlessly transform transcriptions into high-impact content for blogs, social media, podcasts and more.” According to Trint, it can transcribe in 32 different languages and translate completed transcripts into 54 languages. The starter plan ($60/month or $576/year) lets you transcribe up to seven files per month, record audio from Zoom and the iPhone app (it doesn’t have an Android app), edit and share transcripts, and translate text to 54 languages. The Advanced plan ($70/month or $720/year) adds unlimited transcription and allows up to 15 users to edit simultaneously. With a seven-day free trial, you can try the Advanced plan.
Sonix offers machine translations in 35 languages. It includes the usual ability to edit the transcripts, a word-for-word timestamp, and the ability to upload transcripts from other programs and associate them with 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 per audio hour (proportionate to the nearest minute), and you get 10GB of file storage for 90 days. There’s also a Premium plan ($5 per audio hour plus $22/month or $198/year) that adds some features and 50GB of storage. New users get 30 minutes of transcription for free.
Scribie usually offers manually transcribed services, but it also has basic AI-powered transcription for 10 cents per word with a minimum of $1 per file. For that you get an online editor, speaker tracking and the option to download it as a Word document or an SRT/VTT subtitle file.