Otter.ai is an app that promises to make note-taking easy with AI. With a few easy steps, you can create live transcripts of audio, videos, and meetings.
Is Otter.ai the future of meetings? Will your business benefit from real-time transcription? This Otter.ai review will explore the app’s features and help you find out if it’s worth your while.
Who is Otter.ai for?
Otter.ai mostly markets its live transcription service to businesses and educators. Founded to transcribe video meetings, the company now offers a variety of speech-to-text solutions.
One group that often needs transcription is video and audio content creators. Transcribing podcasts is a hassle, and indie creators are often on the hunt for free solutions. Otter.ai has been cited as a low-cost option for producing first-draft transcripts.
Otter.ai Review: Pricing
You can get started with Otter.ai for free. The Basic tier includes access to transcription features with a few limits.
Free users can only upload 3 total files to transcribe, so it’s not a great long-term solution for content creators. There’s also a monthly limit of 600 minutes of transcription. This will only transcribe for up to 30 minutes at a time.
Beyond that, Otter.ai has a common tiered pricing model. Here’s a breakdown of the tiers:
- Basic: Free. Limited transcription, recording and playback, collaboration tools, Google Meet integration.
- Pro: $8.33/mo annually, $12.99/mo monthly. Unlimited imports, 6,000 minutes of transcription per month, up to 4 hours at a time. Added playback speeds, export file types, comes with a free trial of Otter Assistant.
- Business: $20/user/mo annually, $30/user/mo monthly. Otter Assistant, Zoom auto-sync, more export options, user management.
Enterprise customers can also create custom plans by contacting Otter.ai’s sales team.
Need graphic design help?
Try Penji’s Unlimited Graphic Design and get all your branding, digital, print, and UXUI designs done in one place.Learn More
Otter.ai Review: Getting started
Getting started with Otter.ai is free and easy; simply sign up with an email and password. You’ll be asked how you plan to use Otter.ai, then taken straight to your dashboard. There, you can find all the app’s features.
Otter.ai Review: Features
Now that you have an account, what can you do with Otter.ai? Here’s a rundown of all the features they offer.
You can access Otter.ai’s many features from your dashboard. The web app’s design urges users to connect to their Google calendar. When you do, your events will appear on the right side of the dashboard.
Otter.ai doesn’t currently support iCloud calendars. Users can only connect Google or Microsoft calendars, making this function limited for some. If you’re a Pro or Business user, you may find it useful to easily access your events on Otter.ai.
You can invite coworkers and other colleagues to join Otter.ai. When you sync your contacts from Google or Microsoft, you can reach them straight from your dashboard. You can click the “+” button next to “Groups” or “Direct Messages” to add people by email.
Groups can be utilized to share, edit, and review notes and transcripts. This can be useful for group projects and editing. On top of transcribing, Otter.ai seeks to help workers collaborate before, during, and after meetings.
Hitting the blue “record” button in the upper right corner takes you to a live transcription feed. Here, you can see your audio being transcribed live as it happens. You can also return to your dashboard or another tab; you can come back and stop your recording at any time.
A simple test of this recording and transcribing tool turned out a decent transcript. Without a high-quality audio setup, I recorded a paragraph from Eliza Haywood’s Betsy Thoughtless with only about five errors.
I tried to transcribe audio played from my computer with the recording function, but it didn’t work.
Next, I tried recording audio from my phone. This worked, but with many more errors than the initial test. Without integration, Otter.ai doesn’t do a great job recording anyone’s voice other than your own.
Free Otter users can only integrate with Google Meet using a Chrome extension. Zoom is only a feature for users with paid subscriptions to Otter.ai and Zoom. At this time, Otter.ai can’t connect to any other video call tool.
As a free user, you can only upload up to three files, period. It’s a shame, because transcriptions for uploaded files are probably Otter.ai’s most useful offering. You can upload almost any audio or video file and expect your transcript back with only a few minutes of turnaround time.
I decided to test the limits of this software with a two-hour audio file from my podcast. Since I was on the free plan, it only delivered a transcript for the first 30 minutes of audio. Despite this, it took over 25 minutes to process. It was a decently accurate transcript, but felt much more like a blueprint than a full transcript.
Otter.ai also struggles with multiple speakers. Its transcripts don’t distinguish or even place paragraph breaks between different voices. If two people are talking over each other in your audio, your transcript will likely skip that section completely.
Otter.ai Review: Conclusion
Otter.ai suffers a common pitfall among modern SaaS offerings. It’s not content to do one thing well; it wants to be a one-stop shop for its users. The dashboard seems designed to prevent users from employing Otter as a transcription tool. Instead, the dashboard points you to your own calendar, and other organizing tools you didn’t sign up for.
In my final Otter.ai review, I wouldn’t say the service is useless. As I said in the beginning, live and automated transcripts are a great tool for creators and businesses. You’ll still have to make edits to clean up your transcript, but editing a good first draft is a lot easier than starting from scratch with human transcription.
Overall, however, I think Otter.ai’s use is limited. Popular video call providers like Zoom and Microsoft Teams already have built-in transcription tools. Even if you happen to use Google Meet, you may get a higher-quality transcript using another plugin like Sonix or Scribbl.
Otter.ai is a solid transcriber, but it doesn’t stand out from the competition.
Final rating: 6/10