The iPhone has become a favourite device of reporters, replacing an audio recorder, video camera, radio car and even a satellite truck for some. But one thing you cannot easily do is record phone calls.
Apple has not provided this functionality due to US phone-recording laws and that does not seem set to change any time soon. Both Oftel and McNae's Essential Law for Journalists contain guidance on recording phone calls in the UK, such as identifying yourself and asking permission to record. McNae's adds that "Ofcom guidance states that it is acceptable for journalists to record their own calls for note-taking purposes".
There are a couple of options such as Instant Call Recording, a free app that allows you to do this by dialing an access number. But watch out for the high cost of recording an incoming call. There is also CallTrunk, a service which can record all your phone calls, saving the recordings to your private account that can be later accessed online.
Another option is ipadio. The platform's core business is telephony, text and audio services for corporates and offers the ability to livestream phone calls (publicly or privately) as part of that. This option to record calls utilises the technology it has developed with corporates in mind, offering it to consumers, such as journalists, free of charge.
All you pay for is the cost of a call to ipadio's London phonecasting number (there are also low-cost numbers for other countries too). And as it is an 0208 number, you can use your bundled minutes if you’re on a mobile phone contract.
Even though the below instructions are given for recording from an iPhone, ipadio can be used from any type of phone, including landlines and all mobiles.
If calling from a phone and not using the app, all you need to do is call ipadio (020 8185 0500 in the UK) and enter your PIN and then patch in the other caller.
It is worth bearing in mind that ipadio is recording a telephone call, so does not provide quality audio, such as a service such as Skype.
How to record a call from an iPhone
Important note: It is always worth testing this before recording a vital call. One reason is that conferencing isn’t enabled on all iPhones as standard. It can look like you’re recording when actually the conferencing functionality hasn’t been enabled – so check by testing it out.
If you find 'conferencing' is not enabled, call your carrier and ask for conferencing to be set up. There won't be a charge.
Step 1. Download the free ipadio app. (ipadio will be upgrading and adding new functionality to its iPhone app all soon. A new Android app has recently been launched.)
Step 2. Sign up for a free ipadio account. You can do this using the app or ipadio's website. You will then be given a dial-in number and pin.
Step 3. Make the recording private. Now ensure your call will not be broadcast live on ipadio's platform as default settings make the call public.
- Log in to your ipadio account using the website
- Click on the 'channel details' tab
- Where it states 'Show broadcasts on public broadcast listing page' click 'no'
- Where it states 'Hide public channel page' click 'yes'
- In order to get an email notification of your recordings, click 'yes' on 'Moderate this channel' and enter an email address
Step 4. Make the call. Now you are ready to carry out your interview. We recommend you check with your interviewee in advance that they are happy to be recorded as this call will be recorded from the outset. It is possible to patch in ipadio later but it is easier to record from the start.
- Make a note of your PIN, which you can find on the app homescreen (blanked out in the first screenshot below)
- Hit the 'live phonecast' button
- Click 'keypad' and enter your PIN
- Hide keypad and hit '+ add call'
- Dial the number of the interviewee
- When the person answers hit 'merge calls' (it is essential you do this)
- You are now recording. After a short time your iPhone will say 'Conference'
- Tip: At this stage hide the keypad or hold the phone away from your face, perhaps by using a headset. It is easy to accidentally mute the conversation – and then you would be recording silence.
- Hit 'end' when you want to stop recording
You will receive a notification that there is new audio in your account if you have entered your email address in 'step 3' above, or you can simply log in to your ipadio channel.
Update: Marc Settle has helpfully pointed out that ipadio records in telephone quality. We have added this in above.