Taking paper notes on the go is such a hassle, I was considering using a compact memo digital recorder when Apple announced that the new generation of the iPod nano will record memos using an optional $30 mike-earphone. Since I’m more likely to remember to take an iPod with me than a memo recorder, that set me thinking. Could I take voice notes with a nano and place them in Scrivener as research documents?
I didn’t have any success dragging and dropping a podcast from iTunes into Scrivener, something that would approximate how iPod nano memos would come in. Dragging the podcast to the Desktop and then dragging that into Scrivener did work, but it only came in as a link to the mp3 file on disk. It’d be better if that recording were stored inside the Scrivener document, so it doesn’t get lost. Anyone know how to get a mp3 (or WMA) file into Scrivener, especially directly from iTunes?
I’d also be interested in your experiences with memo recorders as a writer’s tool. Are they helpful or not?
Finally, here’s the description of the new iPod nano function from Apple’s manual. The ability to set chapter markers while recording is especially handy.
RECORDING ON THE NEW IPOD NANO
Recording Voice Memos
You can record voice memos using an optional iPod nano–compatible microphone
(available for purchase at apple.com/ipodstore). You can set chapter marks while you record, store voice memos on iPod nano and sync them with your computer, and
add labels to voice memos.
Voice memos cannot be longer than two hours. If you record for more than two hours,
iPod nano automatically starts a new voice memo to continue your recording.
To record a voice memo:
1 Connect a microphone to the Dock connector port on iPod nano.
The Voice Memos item appears in the main menu.
2 To begin recording, choose Voice Memo > Start Recording.
3 Hold the microphone a few inches from your mouth and speak. To pause recording,
press the Menu button. Choose Resume to continue recording.
4 When you finish, press Menu and then choose “Stop and Save.” Your saved recording is
listed by date and time.
To set chapter marks:
While recording, press the Center button whenever you want to set a chapter mark.
During playback, you can go directly to the next chapter by pressing the Next/Forward
button. Press the Previous/Rewind button once to go to the start of the current
chapter, and twice to go to the start of the previous chapter.
To label a recording:
1 Choose Voice Memos > Recordings, and then choose a saved recording.
2 Choose Label, and then choose a label for the recording.
You can choose Podcast, Interview, Lecture, Idea, Meeting, or Memo. To remove a label
from a recording, choose None.
To play a recording:
In the main menu, choose Voice Memos and select the recording.
You won’t see a Voice Memos menu item if you’ve never connected a microphone to
To sync voice memos with your computer:
Voice memos are saved in a Recordings folder on iPod in the WAV file format. If you
enable iPod nano for disk use, you can drag voice memos from the folder to copy
If iPod nano is set to sync songs automatically (see “Syncing Music Automatically” on
page 28) voice memos on iPod nano are automatically synced as an album in iTunes
(and removed from iPod nano) when you connect iPod nano. The new Voice Memos
playlist appears in the source list.
All in all, it seems like it would be a quite handy tool. Particularly if you’re carrying an iPod with you anyway, the record function saves you the bother of carrying yet another gadget. I’m not completely sure if I’d like the auto-removal when the recorded files are transferred to a computer. I’m the safety-first type, but it does remove the hassle of getting rid of those files manually.
The ability to mark chapters is particularly nice. When taping lectures, it lets you set when different people speak. For classes it lets you set markers when a new major point begins. For interviews it lets you mark particular points of importance.
The microphone they mention is part of a combination earphone mike that is fine for memos to yourself. You’ll look like you’re talking on a cellphone rather than a crazy guy who talks to himself. But that’s no good for taping interviews or lectures. Hopefully, someone else will come up with mikes better adapted for those purposes, perhaps a tiny mike that becomes part of the iPod and an adapter that lets us attach an external mike or line input with a place to plug an earphone.
That’s it. I still wonder if I’ll be too self-conscious to record these memos-to-self when they come to me, but it’d certainly be easier than stopping, pulling out a pen and notepad, and writing things down, particularly when what’s to be recorded is more than a few words.
ADDED LATER: There are more details about the recording features of the iPod nano in a review here:
–Mike Perry, Inkling Books, Seattle
P.S. I couldn’t find anything about memo recording in the manual of the new iPod touch. I imagine Apple is letting third parties develop recording functions that might be more full-featured than on the iPod Nano. For instance, there doesn’t seem to be any way to set the recording level with the iPod Nano.