The automated transcription service Otter is making some significant changes to its offerings for free and paying customers. The company is downgrading its features — reducing the number of audio imports users can create, the length of audio they can transcribe each month, and so on — though it is giving free users access to some new tools.
One of the most significant changes is that free users can no longer access their entire back catalog of recordings. Instead, they’ll only have access to the most recent 25.
The rest will be “archived” — that is, they’ll still exist on Otter’s servers, but users will have to either delete other conversations to access them or pay to upgrade to Otter’s “pro” plan. In addition, free users will have to pay to access more than 25 recordings.
The changes to the service will kick in on September 27th, so any free users with more than 25 recordings may want to download their back catalog before then. After September 27th, free users will still be able to access these recordings (by downloading then deleting audio files one at a time), but it’ll be more of a hassle.
You can see the full range of changes in the image above, and Otter also has a helpful FAQ on what’s different. The general upshot seems that the company has been too generous to users and now needs to nudge more people onto its paid plan.
It’s not all bad news, though: Otter is giving some new tricks to free users, including access to an auto-join feature for meetings and free AI-generated summaries of recordings. These features were first added for paid users earlier this year as part of Otter’s plan to position itself not just as a transcription tool but as a multi-purpose work hub.
Otter.ai is a California-based technology company that develops speech-to-text transcription and translation applications employing artificial intelligence and machine learning. Its Otter software displays captions for live speakers and generates written transcriptions of the speeches.
Otter.ai was launched as AISense in 2016 by Sam Liang and Yun Fu, two computer science engineers with a long record of working with artificial intelligence. The vision for the company came to Liang due to hardships remembering what was said in the many meetings he observed and the challenge of sharing meeting information with others. As a result, Liang became the company’s CEO, and Fu evolved into VP of Engineering.
In January 2018, the company declared a partnership with Zoom Video Communications to transcribe video meetings after they are held. The group debuted its first Otter speech translation app in March at Mobile World Congress. It was free for Google’s Android and Apple’s mobile products. In October, the organization launched Otter for Education, a note-taking tool for college students.
In March 2019, the company embarked on Otter for Teams, an enterprise transcription and storage product.
In January 2020, now accomplishing business as Otter.ai, the company declared another $10M funding round conducted by Japanese mobile phone operator NTT Docomo’s Docomo Ventures. In addition, the company announced it was offering Live Notes for Zoom calls in April.
To expand its speech transcription technology, the company says it connected deep machine learning using millions of hours of audio recordings, which were investigated to train the software and improve the translation capabilities. In addition, the company says that it uses proprietary algorithms to scour the web for these usable audio segments.
In 2022, Politico highlighted considerations about the privacy practices of Otter after the firm queried a journalist about the definition of a meeting, transcribed through Otter, with an Uyghur activist.
Transcription, or transcribing as it is often directed, is the procedure of converting speech from an audio or video recording into text.
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Their transcribers have extensive experience converting audio to text in diverse contexts, such as legal inquiries, research project interviews, police interviews, lectures, etc. Transcription is not the same as writing. Whether the transcription is of a squad in a court case or a participant in a research project, survey, or similar being interviewed, it affects more than just typing or writing down the words spoken.
Depending on the purpose and emphasis of the task, it may be necessary to share everything from stressed-out syllables to hesitations and delayed responses. It should be mentioned, however, that any transcription of spoken conversation is a contraction since it is virtually inconceivable to capture all of a conversation’s components in writing.