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What authors of call recording apps for Android aren't telling you

There are many reasons why you would want to record phone calls on your mobile device. Perhaps, you want to ensure that you don't miss any important details, especially when asking for directions or accepting a business order. Perhaps you want to do it for legal purposes so, if you receive any calls from fraudsters or if a company that you are doing business with goes back on its promises, you will have the evidence of misdeeds.

There are plenty of call recording apps on Google Play store but, the truth is, most of them suck. If you are willing to read user reviews, you will know that there are plenty of people out there who can't get any of them to work. And this is down to one thing that authors of call recording apps are not willing to tell you.


By default, in-call recording is only available to native Android apps

Yes, you hear this right. Don't take my word for it. If you are technically-minded, you can verify this from the official Android API documentation. When talking about in-call voice recording, it says "This permission is reserved for use by system components and is not available to third-party applications". So, that's what's behind so many complains about non-working call recording apps.

One thing that may baffle you is the fact that there are also equally many users who say that they have no problem recording phone calls. The reason for that is the fact that Android is an open-source operating systems and some smartphone manufacturers change the default implementation of various OS components. Also, before Android 5 (Lollipop), this restriction was not strictly enforced on many devices. For example, this thread shows how users were no longer able to use in-call recording functionality after an OS update. Therefore, unless your phone comes with a pre-installed call recording apps, modified version of Android or is "rooted", you are very unlikely to be able to use in-call recording functionality that is promised by Google Play apps when your Android OS is up-to-date.


Apps do provide a workaround, but there is a catch

Makers of call recording apps are fully aware of the limitations imposed by the Android OS and they do provide the work-around by enabling the user to change the audio source. For example, if it is impossible to record in-call audio on a particular device, you would be able to use the external microphone and record in speakerphone mode. The tricky part is, however, that they almost never provide an easy way to do so. Take a look at the image below. This is how the audio source is configured on the most popular call recording apps.

Audio Sources on Android Call Recording Apps

Confused? You have to be a technical geek to understand what any of those options mean! Indeed, it is not easy to figure out which one of those options would work the best on your device. This article tells you how to do so, but this involves getting a second phone, calling yourself from a location un-audible by your main phone, listening to the recording, switching the audio source and repeating the whole process.


Speakerphone Call Recorder - an app that addresses the above issues

There is an app out there that provides the ability to record telephone conversations on any Android devices and does so in a much more user-friendly way. It's called Speakerphone Call Recorder.

Speakerphone Call Recorder

As the name suggests, the app is only capable of recording calls in the speakerphone mode and there are no other audio sources. There are no complex settings screens and the only configuration is to automatically record all calls, record calls on demand or not record any calls at all. When recording on demand is set, a confirmation pop-up appears every time you make or receive a call.

As an added bonus, Speakerphone Call Recorder allows you to easily manage the output files. Without leaving the app, you can email them, share them on social media, copy them on a cloud storage, rename them or delete them. Most of other recording apps only provide similar functionality in their costly "pro" versions.

The app isn't free, but it is very cheap compared to other paid call recording apps. Also, it doesn't come with any adverts or in-app purchases. Full functionality comes in a single install.

WARNING: there are legal reasons why in-call recording restriction is in place

There are several countries (or regions within countries) that either don't allow individuals to record calls or require them to ask for the consent before doing so. Google doesn't want to be made responsible for its users breaking the law; therefore, instead of not restricting availability of particular apps on Play Store in particular countries, they have prevented app developers from introducing in-call recording capabilities.

Taking this into account, it would be crucial to find out what the laws in your countries are. You may be able to obtain a call recording app that works perfectly on you phone and find out the hard way that you have broken the law by using it. Therefore, if you intend to use any call recording app, do so at your own risk.



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Posted on 29 Oct 2016

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