The best AI note-taker for remote and international teams.
Plus, Serene app, the app you need to get into deep work.
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I tested 4 AI note-takers on English speakers with different accents. Here are my findings.
If you opened this email, it’s because you probably spend a lot of time in meetings. In fact, this report by Reclaim.ai, shares that the average professional spends 25.6 hours a week in meetings. Having to take notes in all of them seems exhausting.
AI note-takers advertise themselves as apps that will save you time and money. They promise to give you a summary and a transcription of everything you talked about during a meeting, but is that true?
To answer that question and to see which one was the best AI note-taker, I asked seven English speakers from all over the world to get on a call with me and read some text. The text included:
Two book passages — one from the book Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, and the other from Atomic Habits by James Clear.
A technical reading on how to create an HTML query.
A sales passage on revenue and stocks.
A conversation between a manager and a report.
I recorded the sessions through four different AI note-takers, copied the transcriptions, and compared them to the scripts I gave the speakers. I assigned a percentage of accuracy per theme and accent. That means I analyzed 140 transcriptions for this issue! I’ll share my findings at the end of this piece.
The AI note-takers I tested out included Fireflies.ai, Notes by Dubber (Formerly Notiv), Otter.ai, and Hyperia.
Why would someone use an AI note-taker to begin with?
Artificial intelligence-powered note-takers are software that joins your meetings to record audio, video and make summaries out of what you discussed. Their aim is to support human note-takers. AI note-takers never blink, drink water or step out for a few minutes to go to the bathroom.
At last, human note-takers are human, and whenever you shift your attention from listening to adding a personal reminder on your notes, you’ll miss other things happening around you – like part of the meeting. Scientists call it inattentional blindness, and it happens when “your brain ignores all other information that isn’t necessary to the task you are concentrating on.”
Since note-takers are usually people who need to be involved in the meeting, having them be distracted by this task limits their ability to intervene. Asking questions may cause them to forget or miss adding an important part of the meeting to their notes.
Additionally deciding on the note-taker and ensuring they have all the information can be time-consuming. This article by Better Meetings explains that 13% of meeting time is spent discussing topics like assigning a note-taker and sharing the meeting objectives.
AI note-takers are also highly beneficial for remote and/or asynchronous teams. It helps everyone keep in touch with the priorities and agreements even when they can’t join a team meeting. In this case, AI note-takers become a relevant acquisition to your business tech stack.
The main benefits of taking proper meeting notes
When meetings are productive, attendees usually step out of the room (virtual or physical) with a list of pending items to pay attention to. In the end, this helps:
Remind attendees of pending tasks and responsibilities
Update others who couldn’t attend
Get written agreements of tasks and responsibilities
Create an agenda for upcoming meetings
Capture teammates' ideas
Meeting notes can be powerful and have a real impact on the agility of a business. However, you might be able to delegate some of the responsibilities to one of these apps.
AI note-takers: Which one is best for your remote and diverse business?
As mentioned above, I asked English speakers with different accents and levels of language proficiency to help me test four different apps. I checked each recording against the corresponding transcript and scored the apps on transcription accuracy, topics (storytelling, technical, conversations), and accents. Below are the scores and a short review of each app based on my experience along with what I found other users were saying online.
Fireflies.ai is more than a note-taker, it’s an “AI assistant for your meetings.” It allows you to record, transcribe, add comments for your teammates and skim transcriptions.
Use of commas and punctuation. This AI note-taker knows when to use a comma or a full stop in most cases. It doesn’t do much more than that. It didn’t add any semicolons, brackets or quotations.
Cool features. Fireflies has a bunch of functions that improve the overall user experience. They have a feature called “soundbites,” which allows you to take small parts of the conversation and create snippets of audio. You can add those recordings to a thread and make a summary of the highlights. You can also do the same with sentences and add them to a meeting recap.
Filtering. I think this is the best feature Fireflies offers. The AI assistant assigns different tags to parts of the conversation which you can then filter through. These tags are usually labeled according to tone and intention, so you can filter “negative,” or “questions,” and find bits of the conversation with those characteristics.
Ease of sharing. You can share the link with anyone you want, and they’ll be able to listen to the recording and add comments.
High-quality audio. The audio recording quality is really good, even in meetings where the person speaks quietly.
Fireflies.ai has a free version that gives you limited access to some of its features and 3,000 minutes of team storage. Paid versions start at $18 per user per month. That’s the version that I used, and it’s pretty complete with 8,000 minutes of storage.
There aren’t any big issues with this app, but some little things made my experience glitchy and tedious.
Quality. The transcription feature can be improved. Especially for fast speakers. This app will skip everything that it doesn’t understand. Sometimes it skipped long sentences or transcribed them into something that was completely different from what was said, for example, it transcribed “accountant” as “unconscious.” It also has a hard time identifying the different speakers, so you have to change it manually.
Some options are not intuitive. You can’t copy a part of a sentence; you have to either copy the whole sentence or paragraph. Keyboard shortcuts like “Ctrl + C” won’t help. Instead, you have to highlight the whole sentence for this shortcut to work. Also, whenever you double click on a sentence to copy it manually, it starts to play the recording, which I found distracting.
Glitchy editing feature. This was one of the things that made my experience with Fireflies go sideways. I entered editing mode to copy/paste the transcriptions better, and the app kept removing some parts of the text that I couldn’t get back by clicking on “Ctrl + Z”. Also, sometimes when you’re editing a paragraph, the app will move your view to another paragraph for seemingly no reason. I probably wouldn’t have cared if I was editing one transcription, but after doing it several times, it got really frustrating.
The meeting recap doesn’t work. One of their main advantages is that they send you a meeting recap through email which you can access and edit through the website. The downside is that it doesn’t necessarily explain the real priorities. This was one of the recaps from an editorial meeting where we set goals and narrative angles for the week:
I'm gonna be here.
Like this one was, I don't know, it had that 75% of accuracy or something like that.
And what are pros and cons of literally the experience like this can be scheduled, man.
And then if we do those plus countries and a full summary, I think people would be like very impressed with that.
Let's say tomorrow will be too soon.
As I mentioned, I validated the transcribed text vs the original scripts and gave a percentage of accuracy by topic and accents. These are the scores for Fireflies.ai:
Storytelling passages: 82.26%
Score for technical subjects: 81.20%
Score for conversations: 87.17%
Score for native speakers: 90.90%
Score for English speakers with an accent: 79.59%
Overall score: 84.22%
Notes by Dubber
The Dubber note-taker was formerly known as Notiv. This AI-powered note-taker fosters productive meetings where everyone is contributing while it takes notes. Notes by Dubber automatically transcribe meetings, creates action items, and share summaries.
Live transcription. This AI note-taker transcribes audio in real-time. This is quite helpful. If you have trouble understanding someone’s accent, you can use the live transcription as closed captions.
Import recordings. If you missed a meeting but someone recorded it for you, or if you want to use the transcription option, you can upload a video or an audio file and it will take notes for you.
Search the transcript. Notes by Dubber allow you to search words in the transcript easily.
Suggested notes. This feature allows you to review key parts of the conversation as a summary. It’s pretty accurate and you can mark the notes as actions to do later.
Copy/Paste option. It’s amazingly intuitive. You can edit while you listen and copy and paste the whole conversation even when it has dialogue from two different speakers. It even breaks the text into topics that actually make sense.
The free version supports 300 minutes of recordings and meetings under 30 minutes in length. The paid plans start at $19 per user per month.
Skipping words. Sometimes when this app doesn’t understand a word or a sentence, it skips it, making the transcription read weirdly.
Multilingual transcription is not great. It still needs work on transcribing people with different accents.
The interface can be misleading. It can take a while to habituate to their interface, know where your recordings are stored, and access each meeting. Also, I couldn’t find the option to edit the name of the meeting, so I had to remember which link was for each participant. They all looked something like this: “Zoom meeting 04-04-2022.”
These are the scores for Notes by Dubber:
Storytelling passages: 84.61%
Score for technical subjects: 80.79%
Score for conversations: 92.37%
Score for native speakers: 91.79%
Score for English speakers with an accent: 81.77%
Overall score: 86.27%
This software transcribes audio into text and adds tags through AI so you can filter topics easily.
Grammar. Otter.ai has good grammar and use of punctuation. Usually, if the transcription is not accurate, it at least makes sense. The only thing it lacks is the ability to create separate paragraphs. It just transcribes a huge block of text.
Accurate transcription. You can trust their transcription feature. It works decently in almost all scenarios. I was surprised by how accurate the HTML passage was transcribed with Otter.
Keywords summary. This AI note-taker makes tags out of the most mentioned topics throughout the meeting. This is pretty helpful in case you want to revisit a certain part of the conversation — you can go directly to the part of the transcript where the word/topic was mentioned.
Sound speaker mapping. Otter.ai is great for delimiting who’s speaking, and in case it makes a mistake, you can easily reconfirm the speakers by clicking on the “rematch speakers” option.
Text editor. Editing and highlighting text are easy and intuitive. You can edit the text as you listen and read the transcript at different speeds.
Ease of sharing. You can share the link with any stakeholder, and they’ll be able to access it without needing to do anything else.
Otter.ai has a free option that offers 600 min of recordings. The premium plans start at $12.99 per month for individuals and $30 per user per month for businesses. The company also offers tailored quotes for enterprise-level companies.
Speed feature. You can listen to the audio while reading the transcript at different speeds, but it goes from 1x to 2x, so it can feel either too slow or too fast.
Restrictive free version. Compared to other tools, Otter.ai offers a limited free version. It allows you to record 600 min of meetings per month while Fireflies offers 3,000.
Lack of summary. Otter.ai doesn’t give you a summary of the conversation, so you’ll need to re-read the transcript or listen to it again to write your own summary.
These are the scores for Otter.ai:
Storytelling passages: 82.51%
Score for technical subjects: 79.65%
Score for conversations: 92.20%
Score for native speakers: 90.69%
Score for English speakers with an accent: 80.35%
Overall score: 85.08%
This AI note-taker transcribes text, records meetings, and tags action words.
Summary feature. Hyperia creates a pretty decent recap of meetings. It made the most sense out of the four note-takers I tested. It also adds a timestamp to the summary which makes it easy to click on and listen to that part of the conversation.
Video recording. The free version supports video recording which is useful for meetings where someone is sharing their screen.
Tagging feature. This app tags different sentences based on tone which makes it easier to filter later.
Ease of sharing. You can share the link with any stakeholder, and they’ll be able to access it without needing to do anything else.
Speakers remapping. You can easily update the names of the speakers if Hyperia gets it wrong.
Text editor. You can add comments to the text, and you can download a .txt version of the meeting.
Extensive free version. Hyperia offers 1,800 minutes of 60-minute recordings, transcription, and storage for the first 30 days. And unlike other note-takers, this one allows you to invite 5 team members to the same free plan.
The free versions offer up to 1,800 minutes of transcriptions, then, plans go up to $15 per team, plus $0.021 per transcribed minute.
Name mix-ups. The transcription was high quality, but sometimes it assigned a dialogue to someone who wasn’t speaking. For example, I had Fred from Fireflies.ai join the meeting to record it, but Fred is a bot that doesn’t speak. Hyperia noted Fred as the other speaker and assigned all of the things that one of the interviewees said to him.
Copy/paste option comes with a time-stamp and speakers. Whenever you copy and paste the transcription into a document or someplace else, it will also copy the timestamp and the name of the speaker which can be annoying to edit out.
These are the scores for Hyperia:
Storytelling passages: 89.78%
Score for technical subjects: 84.91%
Score for conversations: 90.90%
Score for native speaker: 92.73%
Score for English speakers with an accent: 86.18%
Overall score: 88.9%
Here’s a summary table that shares which app had a better score in each category. As you can see, Hyperia was the best scored in most cases, while Fireflies was the least accurate.
Here’s another table sharing how accurately each app transcribed a speaker’s dialogue based on the country a speaker was from. This is not necessarily a generalization because everyone has different accents within the same country, but the one accent these apps struggled the most to capture accurately was Portuguese native speakers.
Which AI note-taker is best for you?
All of these note-takers do a pretty decent job — the overall score for all of them was over 84% of accuracy. However, Hyperia was the highest-rated overall, including for non-native English speakers. If you have a remote business with employees from all over the world, Hyperia might be the best app for you in terms of accuracy.
Hyperia is also pretty user-friendly and has a bunch of features like tags and categorization that you might find useful.
If you ask me, Dubber was my favorite in terms of UX and AI. Its technology truly understands conversations and can be a huge time saver when it comes to summarizing meetings. Its transcription accuracy scores didn’t fall short. In fact, they are almost similar to Hyperia’s.
I’ve also been using Otter.ai for a while, and they do really well in conversational transcriptions. But it was surprising to see that their software struggles a bit with transcribing people with accents.
Despite the one you choose, note that you’ll need to have someone review, proofread, and edit the transcriptions before sharing them. Also, if you’re working with a fully remote team, any of these will do the job, and it’s better to use at least one of them than to have someone take notes and not participate in meetings.
Have you tried any of these note-taking apps? Which one do you recommend?
Thanks for reading,
Edited by: Lauren Maslen.
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