When it comes to recording phone conversations, a lot of us will automatically think the worst and associate it with something shady like obsessive exes and stalkers. In reality, there are numerous, more mundane reasons to record calls on your Android or iPhone — from keeping records of contracts in the form of verbal agreements, interviews that were done remotely, and important meetings.
While there's a large selection of call recording apps on both Google Play and iOS App Store, almost all of them require you to open your wallet and pay either monthly or annually to use their service. Fortunately, there's a great option out there that lets you record incoming calls free of charge.
In fact, Google Voice has a fairly hidden feature built in that lets you save phone conversations on the go, and it's very simple to use. Best of all, setup and access work exactly that same way for both iPhones and Android devices, as you'll see below.
Federal law permits recording telephone calls and in-person conversations with the consent of at least one of the parties (e.g., you), but your state may have a different consent law. California, for example, has a two-party consent law, which means you have to obtain permission from the other person(s) before you can initiate recording. Know your state laws before attempting to record a conversation.
If you plan to regularly record calls, Google Voice is a great alternative to paid apps like TapeACall. With Google Voice, there are no extra numbers to call for recording, though it has some limitations such as its ability to only record incoming calls (not outgoing) and alerting the caller whenever you initiate recording. If you don't mind those things, get started by installing the app on your smartphone.
Already have Google Voice installed and set up on your smartphone? Skip to Step 3.
If you already have Google Voice set up on your smartphone, skip to Step 3.
Once you've installed Google Voice, open the app, and hit "Get Started" to begin. You'll be taken to the Manage accounts page where you need to pick which Google account you'd like to assign the Google Voice number. Once you toggled an account, you'll be taken to the Terms and Conditions page, so look through it carefully and tap on "Accept" to proceed.
Now, you'll need to select a Google Voice number, so tap on "Search." Next, either search for a specific city in the search field provided or choose one of the suggested cities. Tap on a number from the list of numbers displayed on the following page. You'll be taken to a confirmation page once you've made your selection, so hit "Next" to continue.
By default, Google Voice provides you a free number that you can use immediately, though you have the option to transfer your existing phone number for a one-time fee of $20. Bear in mind, however, that going this route will cancel your existing plan with your carrier and can potentially cost you more in terms of early-termination and other fees. Be sure to check out the Google Voice Help page for more information about transferring a number.
After choosing a free number, Google will proceed to verify your device's's existing phone number. Hit "Next" in the lower-right corner, then enter your iPhone's number in the provided field on the following page. Once you've entered your number, tap on "Send Code" on the lower-right to have Google send a verification code.
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Enter the six-digit verification code you received via text message, then hit "Verify" once you're done. You've now successfully set up your new Google Voice number, so tap on "Finish" to go to the app's main page.
With your Google Voice account set up, you'll now need to enable call recording. To do so, tap on the menu icon in the upper-left corner, then select "Settings" from the sidebar menu that appears. From there, simply tap on the toggle next to "Incoming call options" to turn call recording on.
Now, you'll be able to record any incoming phone calls to Google Voice by revealing the keypad and tapping on the "4" button to initiate recording. Once you start recording, the caller on the other end will receive a verbal alert to notify him or her that the "call is being recorded." To stop recording, either hit "4" again (which will also alert the caller that recording has stopped) or simply hang up.
It couldn't be easier to access your recorded conversations on Google Voice — just tap on the recent call within the "Voicemail" page to expand it, then tap on the play button to play the recording.
For recordings that Google Voice was able to transcribe, you have the option of copying the transcript to save or share. To save a transcript, tap on the ellipsis (•••) button on the lower left of the recording, and hit "Copy transcript" from the menu prompt that appears. From there, paste the copy into a text field of an app like Messages and Notes to save or share the transcript.
If you want to record outgoing calls too, you'll have to use a different service. There are third-party apps that are designed to only record calls, as well as jailbreak and root tweaks and, of course, physical gear you can use to record calls with. For more info on those and other ways, see our roundup of call recording possibilities.