Whether you’re conducting an interview, hosting an important conference call, or trying to trick a criminal mastermind into revealing his plans for global domination, you’ll need a way to record your phone calls.
If you have a smartphone, you’re in luck: There are apps for that. And even if your phone isn’t especially brainy, it can record any inbound call easily and at no cost.
Before you get your Watergate on, it’s important to note that different states have different rules when it comes to recording phone conversations. Your safest and smartest bet is to let all parties know in advance that the call is being recorded, and to get their consent while you’re on the call (so that you have a record of it). Both Google Voice and Call Recording Pro inform the person you’re calling that the call is being recorded.
Android and iPhone Apps
Apple’s App Store and Google’s Play Store are home to various call-recording options—some free and some not, some good and some not so good.
One of the better apps I’ve found is TeleStar’s Call Recorder—IntCall, which is available for both Android and iOS. It works strictly with outbound calls, and charges by the minute: 10 cents per minute for calls in the United States. In my tests on an iPhone 4S, it worked quite well. And you get 30 cents’ worth of credit to test-drive the app and make sure that it does the job to your liking.
After you’ve recorded a call, you can play it back on your phone or you can email the .wav file to yourself or to anybody else.
If you’re looking for something a little cheaper, you might like Handsfree.ly’s Call Recording Pro for iOS. It works with both incoming and outgoing calls, and costs just 99 cents per recording (with price breaks if you purchase in-app “call packs”). Those recordings are saved to the cloud, not to your phone, but you get an email link to the MP3 file as soon as you hang up. The only potential wrinkle here is that calls can’t be longer than 45 minutes.
Android users may want to check out Clever Mobile’s Call Recorder, a free app that supports incoming and outgoing calls. Your success rate may vary, however, depending on the model of phone you have and the recording settings you use (the developer notes that some trial and error may be required).
A Universal Solution: Google Voice
If you can’t find an app you like, or if your phone doesn’t run apps, you still have one excellent alternative: Google Voice. Whenever you’re on a call that’s been routed through your GV number, regardless of the kind of phone you’re using, you can press 4 to start recording and 4 again to stop it. (A voice will announce that recording has begun, so all parties are aware.)
After the call, you can sign into your Google Voice account on the Web to play, download, and/or share the recording. And all of this happens free of charge.
The bad news? Google Voice works only with inbound calls. Other than that, it’s the most hassle-free call-recording solution for smartphones and dumb phones alike.
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For more than 20 years, Rick Broida has written about all manner of technology, from Amigas to business servers to PalmPilots. His credits include dozens of books, blogs, and magazines. He sleeps with an iPad under his pillow.