At a Glance
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Voice Recorder is a bare-bones recording app available for free on the Android Market. The interface is simple and straightforward; with nothing but a timer, a file list, and a big fat record button, it has everything you need to capture quick notes or impromptu interview sessions on the go.
The app is designed to do one thing and do it well: record ambient sound picked up by the mic in your Android smartphone. During testing I found the audio quality to be muted and flat but serviceable for fact-checking or transcription purposes. If you need broadcast-quality audio, you're better off looking elsewhere (or just purchasing a dedicated digital recorder).
Since the app collects audio data from the phone mic, recording phone conversations is possible. A crash bug that cropped up on my Motorola Droid during incoming calls, however, rendered me incapable of verifying whether Voice Recorder can record both sides of a conversation. What's even more troubling is that, when your smartphone is moonlighting as a portable recorder, a single mistimed phone call may foul up your audio or even crash the app completely.
Voice Recorder offers a number of customization options, including a timer for starting and stopping recordings at a predetermined time as well as the option to enable nonstop recording in the face of incoming calls or even prolonged phone use. Although the ability to record continuously while you're playing with your phone or accepting calls sounds like a great feature (Voice Recorder even offers a tap-to-record home-screen widget), the app is unstable, and I had a great deal of trouble keeping my audio files intact whenever my Droid was doing anything other than focusing on Voice Recorder.
Quibbles aside, as long as you plan to use this app as a dedicated recorder you'll be hard-pressed to find a better single-purpose tool. Moving files around and sharing them with other people or devices is easy, thanks to a quick-mail option that allows you to e-mail audio data anywhere or save it to an SD Card for later listening. One warning: Be sure to disable the auto-hide feature, which prevents Voice Recorder files from showing in your phone's music player. Even though it's a great feature that keeps idle notes and goofy voicemail messages out of your playlist, it can make for a nail-biting half hour spent desperately flipping through your phone in search of that all-important indie-band interview.
For comprehensive coverage of the Android ecosystem, visit Greenbot.com.