Audiolio: A multitasking note-taking and audio recording app for iPad
There are a ton of note-taking apps for the iPad, since the portable hands-on device is so analogous to the traditional pen and notepad. Many of these apps also allow a way to record audio in the background as you take notes. Audiolio (US$2.99) looks at taking notes in another way, providing written bookmarks and annotation to audio recordings.
I had a chance to try out Audiolio this past weekend on the new iPad, and it turns out that it's a pretty useful tool for a number of things -- taking written notes while somebody is lecturing or talking, doing the same while critiquing music, grabbing notes during the taping of an audio podcast, and more. While other apps can do this, I like the "bookmark" method that Audiolio uses.
In the example images in the gallery, you can see how an Audiolio workflow takes place. Basically, you start a new recording and begin taking notes. At any time, you can add a new bookmark by tapping the bookmark icon in the far right top corner of the user interface. The recording can be paused and restarted at any point by tapping an easy-to-see button, perfect for those times when it's necessary to pause a meeting for a bio-break or because an argument has broken out.
When you're done with your recording, tap the end recording button to finish the job. You now have a file that you can send via email, send to iTunes, or send to your Dropbox. If you'd like, you can also print the bookmarks. When sharing a bookmark set, it's possible to send it as a special Audiolio file, as a PDF, a text file, or as audio only. Sending the audio file with the bookmark set is an option as well.
The Audiolio format file (.aolio) can only be read by Audiolio, while sharing the recording and bookmarks in another format saves both a text or PDF file plus a .m4a audio file. The bookmarked notes, when exported as a PDF, are nicely formatted.
One feature I absolutely love that the Audiolio developers probably never even thought about is the ability to use the new iPad's voice dictation feature to take notes. I was going through some meeting notes that I recorded with the app, and as I got to a point where I wanted to take written notes, I'd stop the audio playback, create a new bookmark, tap on the voice dictation microphone icon, and record a set of notes.
Any bookmark can also be annotated with either a sketch or an image from the iPad's Photo Library. I'd like to see the app be set up with one more annotation button -- take a picture. At this point, I had to get out of the app, bring up the iPad photo app, take a photo, and then pop back over to Audiolio to add photos. Those sketches or images are also added to PDFs exported from Audiolio.
My one gripe? The UI is rather boring -- black and white with a few red highlights here and there. Other than that, I find Audiolio to be a useful and powerful tool for augmenting audio recordings with notes and other annotations.
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