Quick Guide: Oral History Recording Apps

By Gena Philibert-Ortega Premium

It wasn’t so long ago that recording an interview with a relative required a tape recorder and actual cassette tapes. Now, thanks to mobile devices, you have the ability to record interviews and oral histories at a moment’s notice and load these crystal-clear files to your computer.

These recording apps also offer enhanced features such as tagging recordings; indexing names, places and other data; and in some cases, choosing the output and quality of the recording. Others provide options to add photos, documents and videos—the perfect tools to piece together your family story.

Need some inspiration for your family history interview? Check out these questions to get started.

Microphone in a recording studio.

Oral History Recording Apps

Skyro Voice Recording

Free and Pro version for Android devices.

  • Instantly sync recordings to Dropbox
  • Tag recordings by keyword or location
  • Record in uncompressed WAV or MP3 format, from 64kbps  (kilobits per second, a measure of data transfer speed) to 320kbps

Tip: You can’t record audio during phone calls, so set your phone to Do Not Disturb mode while recording.

Saving Memories Forever

Free Apple and Android app; winner of the RootsTech 2014 Developer’s Challenge.

  • Organize recordings by category, such as jokes or age
  • Free version lets you include two “storytellers”
  • Share stories through the Saving Memories Forever website and on Facebook

Tip: The premium subscription ($40/year) provides enhanced features such as additional storytellers, searching, and adding photos and documents to recordings.

iRecorder Pro

App for iPhone or iPad available in iTunes for $2.99. This app is simple to use, but offers fewer extras than other apps.

  • Record for hours
  • Start recording with just a tap
  • Download recordings with Wi-Fi sync


App for iPhone or iPad available in iTunes for $4.99.

  • Edit audio directly from the app
  • Share recordings through email, Dropbox or Evernote
  • Record audio in four different formats (WAV, CCAF, AIFF, MP4) and three different speeds

Tip: If your interviewee has a coughing fit or someone interrupts you, you have the ability to highlight a section of the recording to revisit and edit later.

Stories, etc.

Free Apple app.

  • Provides  prompts to help get conversation going
  • Audio record, video record or write stories
  • Share stories via email or Facebook

Tip: Use the interview question prompts to initiate your conversation, then follow up with your own specific questions.

Of course, once you’ve recorded your interview or oral history, you might want to edit it. You can do so easily with Audacity. Learn how with our video, Using Audacity to Edit Audio Interviews.

From the December 2014 issue of Family Tree Magazine.

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