Talking is a lot easier than typing

This tip is only for accountants with iPhones, iPads or Apple Watches (sorry if that’s not you). Some people are very fast, very accurate typists but most of us are not. I for one, and I suspect most readers of this, can think and speak much faster than I can type. So why type long emails, letters and reports if you can dictate them?

The in-built keyboard on an iPhone has a microphone button which toggles into dictation mode and what you say is transcribed. This transcription gets better over time as Siri learns about the technical words you use but there is one annoying limitation. After about 45 seconds the transcription stops and you have to select the microphone button again. This is not a problem if you want only to dictate one or two sentences in an email reply, or send a quick text to your significant other, but it gets in the way of longer dictation sessions.

Recently I discovered an app called Just Press Record which does not have this limitation. You press its record button, speak and it both saves a recording of your voice and creates a transcription of it, a transcription which is editable. Once you’ve finished a recording and transcription you can share them separately or together. This means you email the text to someone, open it in one of the other text apps on your phone, save it as a file or copy the text to the clipboard and paste into an app. This app is handy for capturing quick notes and fleeting ideas as well as longer sections of prose. You could record a whole report in one single speech — I would be impressed by anyone with that level of skill — but the app needs to be the foreground app during transcription which would stop you moving on to do something else. Realistically, then, the app is better used by recording a longer document section by section, and assembling the transcriptions into the full document afterwards.

The app is £4.99 in the UK ($4.99 in the US) and worth checking out on the App Store*. This is a great deal compared to the online transcription services that charge something like $1 a minute to transcribe a recording. Not only that, the recording and transcription is done on your phone so you’re not at risk of someone stealing your recordings, etc.

All in all, I think you could very quickly get a fiver’s worth of value from it. I certainly have.

Just Press Record screenshots

* There are no affiliate links here. I'm just giving you my personal opinion.