Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Guest blogger post: CallRec.me Solved Urgent Need

Summary of my experience with CallRec.me.

I had an interview requirement for my MBA project and sent out a request to someone I selected. While driving home from work, I received acceptance from the person I wanted to interview. He agreed to do the interview, however what I did not expect was that he wanted to have it immediately (within an hour, that same night). I knew ahead of time it would need to be via phone since he was in another state but I had not solved that delima yet. By the time I arrived at my house, I had about 15 minutes left before the time he wanted to start.

I do not have a landline phone in my house so the only option was my iPhone. With less than 15 minutes until the call and only an iPhone, I had no clue how I was going to record the call at the same time I was on it . I knew the iPhone was a good digital recorder but I was going to be using it for the call and did not have any other recorders at my house. Time was short, not to mention that I had typed my draft interview questions in multiple files and needed to put them into one and print out so the interview would be smooth (Obiously I don't interview for a living).

So, with less than 15 minutes to find a solution and only an iPhone, I did a quick search of Apple's App Store, I found several apps but quickly selected CallRec.me. I downloaded it, bought additional minutes, made 3 quick test calls to family members and was setup and ready for my interview within 10 minutes. With a few minutes to spare, I consolidated my notes, printed them and dialed the interviewee (To be frank, I could not believe I pulled it off that quick. I honestly thought it was too easy). The interview went well, the recording was good but had several garbled areas which I believe were related to my 3G coverage and not this application.

My MBA project required that I also turn in a typed transcript and CallRec.me said you could submit the recordings, made through their app, for transcription. This was one of things that attracted me to select CallRec.me. My interview was 40 minutes in length. A few days later I remembered that I needed to get a transcript completed so I submitted my recording around noon on a Sunday. I could not find any information from CallRec.me or on the web regarding the length of time it would take for the transciption so I hoped I would get it Monday but realized it could be a couple of days. I received an email about my transciption at 5PM the sameday and assumed it was an update to let me know when I could expect to receive the finished product. To my surprise, it was actually the completed transcript. I was shocked that I received a completed transcript of my 40 minute phone call in only 5 hours and on a Sunday. Even better was that it was only $40.

Overall the transcript was pretty good but there were mistakes (typos), however I believe it was related to the garbled areas in my recording due to my coverage because most of the transcript was very accurate. I did notice that the transcript seemed to start over from the beginning frequently. In other words, I asked 11 questions in my interview and about 6 to 8 times during the typed transcript, it would start over from the beginning. I haven't figured that one out but it only required me to delete the repeated areas of text so wasn't a show stopper, just a little of an annoyance. It is still hard for me to believe I pulled this off, you have to love all this technology. I submitted my assignment without a hitch.

That's my story and I've told it to many people who were looking for recording software and transcription capability. This app truly saved my ?you know what? (project:). By the way, I received an A on the project. Not bad for a 45 year old study working full time and going to school full time. This app took a load off my mind though. I can not compare it to other similar applications since it was the first I tried and don't see a need to given the results mentioned above. Definately worth trying if you are looking for a solution to record calls and possibly need transcripts too. It was extremely easy to setup and to use.

Author: Jim E.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Shaping CallRec.me - Cages And Breakthroughs

When we started our work on bringing CallRec.me service for iPhone to life, we faced some unique challenges that we needed to overcome to make the product ready for public. These obstacles had significant impact on how CallRec.me for iPhone works - things like announcing that the call is being recorded, charging users per minute instead of a one-time upfront fee, and others.


Since many of you are asking us why the things have to be like they are, this is our attempt to shed some light on the whole thing.


Catch #1. It is not possible to intercept an audio of the phone call and record it to a local file on iPhone


This is technical limitation of iPhone. There is nothing in iPhone operating system that could allow us - application developers - to create an application that could listen to what is being said on a phone call and save that into an audio file. It is simply not possible. Period.


Although some other mobile OSes which are considered obsolete and technologically outdated, like PalmOS and Windows Mobile, were perfectly capable of doing so, none of the modern platforms, including iPhone, Android and BlackBerry, provide this feature (currently only Nokia Symbian phones can do this).


To make things even more interesting, even if we solved this problem with some coding magic, Apple would not allow such an app to be published in the App Store: recording phone calls in a local file on a phone is something that Apple, for some reason, simply does not allow.


So, we had to think of other ways for recording phone calls.


Our Take - Since it is forbidden/cannot be done on the phone, we have implemented a phone call recording machine on our servers, as that is the only place where we can patch into a call to record it.


Bottom Line - Because the recording must be done on a server, the call itself must be routed through that server. This means that CallRec.me app cannot simply dial the number you wish to call - it has to connect to our server first, and our server will dial the number you entered. Now, to be able to do this, our servers need to be connected to the telephone network of the world, and that can be achieved only through phone companies - which charge us per minute of call. This is the reason why we have to charge our users per minute of recording: our costs are directly dependent on a) the duration of a call, and b) the location of the number you are dialing. Our servers are in US, so for example, if you are in Japan calling number in Japan, our phone company would charge us with US to Japan per-minute rate. Fortunately, if you are in Japan dialing US number, it would be a local call for us - and we will charge you with local US calling rate which is significantly lower than Japan-US rate.


Catch #2. We are not allowed to initiate phone call with a purpose of recording it


This is the requirement that Apple imposed on us after the version 1.0 of CallRec.me application was released, in-use by many people, and when we wanted to update it with some new features.


We have no idea where did this restriction came from - no such thing is mentioned anywhere in agreements between developers and Apple - but it exists: we were informed that our app could be banned from iTunes App Store if it contained such a feature. Since this feature - initiating and recording calls - is the essence of our product, it appeared that we are stuck.


Our Take - Use VoIP. VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) is technology that allows phone calls to be made through Internet connection on your phone rather than using "standard" cellular network - the one which is measured by bars in status bar on your phone. Probably one of the best known implementations of this technology is Skype - so we had to make CallRec.me work like Skype - over the Internet. This was a huge effort, and once Apple confirmed that it is an acceptable solution, we started to work.


Bottom Line - After we switched to VoIP, with version 1.2 of CallRec.me, users are required to have a good Internet connection on their phones. "Good" means 3G or WiFi - Edge connections simply do not provide enough bandwidth to transmit human voice in real time.


Another consequence of this was that we are no longer able to detect incoming phone call and initiate its recording: since we are not allowed to record anything that is not VoIP, and of course regular phone calls that you receive are not VoIP, recording incoming phone calls became an explicit no-no by Apple. So, to record an incoming phone call you must initiate the recording process manually (described here) or our app would be kicked out of App Store.


Catch #3 - the BIG one: If the phone call is recorded, even through VoIP, the application must emit a beep every 15 seconds, or announce that call is being recorded at its beginning

This is another rule that is being enforced on us by Apple - and same as with previous one - it is not clear where it is coming from. But it is there, and we must obey or we will be banned.


There are lot of materials and discussions on the Internet that cover legal aspects of recording phone calls - you can find one here - so one can think that Apple is trying to protect itself from potential legal issues by enforcing this rule. But we simply cannot understand why the application that records calls must enforce such rules on all users. For example, if you are in California you must inform the other party on a call that the call is being recorded - that is the law. But in Texas (and in fact in most US states) you don’t. So why our app must be the one that will enforce this rule even to users that are not legally obliged to do so? And even if you are required, by law, to announce the recording, it is your obligation to do so, not ours as developers of the app. When you buy a car you are required to drive by the traffic rules - but no one will ever force the car manufacturers to implement technology that will forbid you to drive faster than 30mph even on roads with higher speed limits. It simply doesn’t make sense.


Our Take. Make the type of announcement configurable, and provide other means for initiating calls without announcement. You can configure CallRec.me app whether you want to have a spoken announcement or beeps during the call - here is how to do it - but you cannot completely turn it off.


Fortunately, there is a way to overcome this - initiating phone call recording from CallRec.me app on iPhone is not the only way you can use our service. You can initiate phone calls from outside the application and then listen to recordings from the app. This way, our app is not initiating any phone calls on its own, so we are good by Apple, and you can still use CallRec.me service without announcing recording if it is not required by your laws. Visit our help pages for more details on how to use this feature.


These are just some of the rules defined by Apple that we need to obey to stay in the iTunes App Store. Although we don’t agree with these methods that Apple is using to limit the feature set of iPhone apps, we believe that we understand what is Apple trying to achieve with all those restrictions. Recording phone calls is still a taboo for many people at least until they give it a second, more rational thought. That is why we have decided to comply with those restrictions even when it required significant investments both in time and money on our side to make the CallRec.me product useful and worthy tool. We believe that we have succeeded in it, and we will do our best to make it even better in the future.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Is It Legal To Record Phone Calls?

Many of you are (reasonably) concerned about the legality of recording your phone calls – you probably ask yourself "Is it legal to record phone calls?" or "Am I allowed to record the call without the other party’s consent?", or "Will I get in trouble if I record phone calls?".

The laws on recording phone conversations in US are different and they depend on the location of both parties of the call.

Generally, it is legal to record any conversation where both parties consent to that, but you probably want to know if you are allowed to record phone calls without the consent of the other party.

US federal law requires only one party to consent to the recording of a phone conversation and majority of the states have adopted this law allowing one to record phone calls without informing the other party that the call is being recorded.

However, you have to be aware that there are states that require all parties to give consent that the call is being recorded. These states are California, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania and Washington.

In all other US states it is legal to record phone calls as long as one party has given consent. In those states you can record calls without getting the other party’s consent. So, it is legal for you to record a call without the other party’s knowledge because you are that one party to the conversation that is aware and consent that the call is being recorded.

But be careful, you are good as long as the other party is in one of the one-party notification states so you need to know in which state the other party of the call resides. You should abide by the other person’s state laws because you are the one who knows call is being recorded. Keep this in mind because if the other party is in the two-party consent state, you will need to get the other party’s consent.

We would recommend you check the rules for individual states before you start recording your phone calls: http://www.rcfp.org/taping/states.html

For information about the laws that apply to countries other than US, check and comply with your local regulations on phone calls recording: Telephone recording laws on Wikipedia.

Friday, July 9, 2010

New CallRec.me Available in the App Store!

New version of CallRec.me is available in App Store as a free download!

CallRec.me is the easiest and fastest way for recording phone calls on your iPhone. It can record both incoming and outgoing phone calls, and the latest version brings some exciting new features that you asked for.

No More Access Numbers

It is like Skype + recording, but easier. When you wish to call someone and record that call, all you need to do is to enter the phone number and push the Record button. CallRec.me will dial the number directly and record the conversation without going through intermediate access number.

What this really means is that:

  1. You can call and record calls with anyone in the world without spending your subscription (carrier) minutes
  2. You can call and record calls over the WiFi network - you don't even need to have a data plan or 3G coverage if you are near the WiFi hotspot. Yes, it works just like Skype - but with recording.
  3. Using CallRec.me is dramatically easier: you can call someone, record the call and listen to the recording without even leaving CallRec.me app
  4. CallRec.me is now available even in places where we couldn't provide access numbers - it doesn't matter anymore if you are in US, Europe, Asia or Antarctica
Voice Notes

You can use CallRec.me not only for recording phone calls, but for taking quick voice notes, memos, recording meetings, to do lists... Just tap the Record button and talk away - everything you say will be recorded and preserved along with your phone calls. And best of all - recording voice memos is free!

Share Your Recordings

With CallRec.me you can share your recorded calls or voice memos with your friends on Facebook, Twitter or via email.

Integrated Audio Player

Latest version features an integrated audio player for listening to recorded conversations. Play, pause, forward, rewind and other playback options that you expect are there, just below the list of your recordings.

Transcriptions

With CallRec.me you can order transcriptions of your recorded phone calls. There are two types of transcriptions you can use: human transcriptions that are 99.9% accurate but may take some time to be delivered, and machine transcriptions that are not that accurate, but are faster to get (and much more funny).

Get the brand new CallRec.me on your iPhone now, and start recording your phone calls!

Friday, April 16, 2010

CallRec.me 1.2 Coming Soon

Today, we have submitted Apple a new version of CallRec.me app for iPhone - CallRec v1.2. We hope it will be out soon!

Here’s a glance at what we prepared for the next v1.2:

• We developed a native player for the app, so the look and feel are more complete
• You’ll be able to share your recordings and invite people to use the service directly from your phone
• We improved the quality of recorded files
• User experience is enhanced in a way that the app responds faster to user's selection of tabs and menu options.

And here is a sneak peak into native player look and the option for sharing your recordings directly from the app:













Until the v1.2 gets approved by Apple, go ahead and download current v1.1 from the App Store.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

CallRec.me BETA is now open for everyone – no invites required!

Starting today, invites for CallRec.me are no longer needed and those who would like to create account with CallRec.me and use the service to record their phone conversations can do so.

Simply download CallRec.me app from the App Store (it's free!) and create your account with us.

Two things we’re hoping to see now that CallRec.me is fully accessible and requires no invites are:
- more 5 stars in App Store for CallRec.me (hint: rate CallRec.me, with as many stars as you think it deserves)
- everyone to send more invites to their friends, family and colleagues (hint: there is Invite others button in the top right corner after you login to your CallRec.me account from our website)

Thanks to everyone who has tried CallRec.me. Hope to see you find CallRec.me useful and stick around for a good while more.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

It’s official – we are open for business!

Another big news today is that starting from version 1.1 we are open for business - hurray!

That means more robust behavior and features on both our servers as well as CallRec.me iPhone app. More access numbers, more lines, better quality recordings, quicker customer support and overall more love, care and affection for all our users.

CallRec.me v1.1 release also brings out a business model we are opening with.

Invitations are no more needed and we are open to every and all, worldwide. Anyone can record a 2 minutes long conversation in US free of charge, with anyone in US, and from anywhere in the world. For conversations longer then 2 minutes we have now prepaid packages tailored to US-based users as well as International users.

The packags are:

1. US Promo package for $9.99 – you can record 200 minutes of phone calls including outgoing calls with US and all incoming calls, regardless of your location.

2. Worldwide Promo package for $9.99 – you can record 30 minutes of incoming and outgoing phone calls from anywhere and with anyone in the world

To keep things simple and easy for you we have implemented the prepay feature as a one-step-tap-in-app purchase, directly in CallRec.me on your iPhone.

For all of you who have been on board so far we threw in 30 minutes of US Promo and 30 minutes of Worldwide package for free as an extra Thank You for being with us all along. Enjoy – and let us know how 1.1 is working out for you!