Download the latest Google Recorder app on most Android devices
Google’s latest Pixel 4 smartphones have a lot of appealing features like 90Hz refresh rate displays and Google’s latest camera software, but one of the features that we’ve personally found to be incredibly useful is the new Google Recorder app. This app is a fully offline voice recorder with real-time transcriptions and audio search. Google’s Recorder app may not be entirely original or the most feature-filled, but it does what it’s built to do really well. If you own a Pixel 3a, Pixel 3, or Pixel 2, then the app is also available for you so long as you’re running the latest December 2019 software release. If you have the first generation Pixel or any other smartphone, then you’ll have to resort to unconventional means to download and install the latest version of the Google Recorder app.
This app is really useful if you’re a student looking to record lectures or if you’re a journalist looking to record interviews. I personally find it really useful to quickly make a note about whatever I’m thinking of; it’s faster to open up the Google Recorder app and start talking than it is to type out whatever is on my mind in an app like Google Keep.
The only currently supported language for transcriptions is U.S. English, though, so you may have trouble getting the transcription engine to recognize your speech if English isn’t your primary language. While running the app on my Pixel 4, it was able to transcribe my voice even in noisy environments, though your mileage may vary on phones that aren’t officially supported. Lastly, the audio quality of saved recordings isn’t that high, but Google is working on letting you save audio in the higher-quality WAV format. If you think you’ll find this app to be useful, then here’s how to get it on most modern Android smartphones.
Download the latest Google Recorder app
If you want to download an official, unmodified version of the Google Recorder app straight from Google, there’s only one version that works on unsupported devices: the leaked APK that I found and uploaded to APKMirror. Though it’s an older version of the app (version 1.0.271), it still has the key functionality of the app such as real-time transcriptions and audio search.
Alternatively, if you want the latest version of the app (version 1.1.284), you can download the modified version that I uploaded to AndroidFileHost. It has the same package name as the original app but was signed by a different signing key (my own), so it won’t install on top of the official releases. The only thing I changed in the app was the requirement to have the PIXEL_2017_EXPERIENCE feature flag; with the removal of this flag, the app no longer immediately closes on unsupported devices.
During our attempt to get this app working on more devices, we discovered that, at least on the phones where the app doesn’t immediately crash (ie. everyone but Xiaomi), transcriptions are being saved even though the app is unable to surface them after saving a recording. When transferring the Google Recorder app’s data folder from my OnePlus 6T to my Pixel 2 XL, the transcription that I thought wasn’t saved on the OnePlus 6T suddenly became visible on the Pixel 2 XL. That, plus the logs we saved when debugging the crash on MIUI, led us to believe that OEM software is to blame for the app not working properly on all devices. For further evidence, we confirmed that the app works fully on OnePlus and Xiaomi devices running AOSP-based custom ROMs.
Thus, either Google would need to make changes to their app or OEMs would need to make changes to their software in order for the app to run on every device. I don’t blame Google for locking this app to Pixel smartphones, though, since it’s a killer feature. That’s why the XDA forums are here.