Tuesday, December 08, 2009

iPhone Voice Memos.app - the secret feature

I wasn't that impressed with Voice Memos.app when if first appeared with OS 3. I joined the chorus complaining about the audio levels -- or lack thereof. It only works if you talk directly into the phone or headset mike. The record button should be huge, instead the UI is given over to a pointless graphic. It takes too many taps to close a recording. And so on.

There was, I thought, only one good feature of Voice Memos.app. It's fast. iTalk Lite had great features [1], but it was too damned slow to launch and record (I'd have paid for the pro version if it were five times faster).

That was before I discovered the secret feature.

If you're wearing Apple's earset and you have Voice Memos running, one click of the microphone switch starts recording, a second click stops and saves.

So if I'm driving with my right earset in, I can click dictate and click again. No distraction, no multi-taps, no delays. This is a great feature. Now I love Voice Memos.

So, where the #$$!$ is this documented? My Google searching can't find mention of this feature. Heck, I can't find any documentation on Voice Memos.app.

This is classic Apple. Great feature, no documentation, only the wise know. Is it so they don't catch flack if an undocumented feature disappears? Is it some conspiracy to sell David Pogue's great iPhone book? (Sorry, I bought it already. I'm not buying every edition, so I don't know if this is in the latest one.)

PS. There is Apple documentation on some of the microphone switch's features. You can use it, for example, to decline an incoming call (hold 2 seconds) or to switch and hold (click once) or switch and kill (hold 2 seconds). No mention of Voice Memos.app though.

Update 4/28/2010: I still use and appreciate Voice Memos, but recently I tried to use iTalk Lite to record a hour call. It worked well until minute 45 when a background notification caused it to lock up. I had to kill it and that lost the recording too.

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