Reader Simon Concannon is interested in pursuing an activity that’s considered illegal in many quarters. He writes:
I occasionally need to record phone conversations with clients and I’d like to do it with my iPhone. Is there an app for that?
Before offering an answer, I should mention that there are U.S. federal and state laws that govern this kind of thing. In some states you’re allowed to record a conversation with the permission of at least one participant. In others, all participants must agree to be recorded. If you’d prefer to not wade through the laws of these many united states (as well as avoid a trip to the hoosegow), make sure that the person you’re talking with is aware that you’re recording the call.
Let me start by telling you what won’t work. If you were to fire up the Voice Memos app, tap the Record button, switch to the Phone app, make a call, and tap the Speaker button in the hope of recording your voice as well as the voice coming over the iPhone’s speaker, you would be greatly disappointed at the results. And that disappointment would occur at the exact moment you discovered that Voice Memos had stopped recording when you placed your call. Apparently Apple doesn’t want to be in the wiretapping business and so prevents recording apps from doing their business while you make a call.
You do have other options, however. One is to use Google Voice, which offers you the ability to record incoming (but not outgoing) calls. To do this, travel to the Google Voice site and sign up. You’ll be walked through the process of creating an account and assigning it to your phone.
Once you have that account, travel to the Google Voice site once again, click on the Gear icon, and choose Settings. In the Settings screen, click on the Calls link. Near the bottom of the screen you’ll see the Call Options item. Tick the box next to Enable Recording.
Now, when you receive a Google Voice call, you can record that call simply by pressing 4 on the iPhone’s keypad. When you do the Google Lady will announce “This call is now being recorded” so that all parties can hear it. When you finish your call, you’ll find the recording in the Google Voice app’s Inbox, where you can listen to it.
You say you want a copy of it on your Mac? No problem. On your Mac, use your browser to navigate to your Google Voice page. Click the More link, and select Recorded Calls. Below each recorded call that appears, there’s yet another More link. Click on it and select Download. The file will download to your Mac. In my case, my call opened in iTunes.
More options? You could always forgo your iPhone and use Skype on your Mac in league with Ecamm Network’s $20 Call Recorder. Call Recorder is my go-to tool for recording both sides of a Skype conversation. It’s easy to use and comes with some great tools for splitting and converting recorded tracks. It can record Skype’s video as well.
Chris has covered technology and media since the latter days of the Reagan Administration. In addition to his journalistic endeavors, he's a professional musician in the San Francisco Bay Area.