Olympus have taken a move in to the mobile dictation world and found a solution to the long awaited solution to send audio from a professional digital dictaphone (DS-7000 / DS-3500) via your iPhone or Android smartphone. Linking up with Toshiba and their FlashAir memory cards, used in many an Olympus PEN camera, when inserted into a DS-7000/DS-3500 (with v1.20 of the firmware) audio can be wirelessly transferred to the Olympus Dictation App on your iPhone or Android. Alongside the release of the Olympus Dictation App Olympus have also release to new editions of the DS-7000 and DS-3500 called DS-7000 Air and DS-3500 Air. These new models come with a FlashAir card instead of a standard emory card. If you already own a DS-7000/DS-3500 you will need to upgrade your recorder to at least firmware version v1.20 and find yourself a FlashAir card.
The app itself is free and can be used in one of two models. Free gives you the ability to record audio and email it, in .m4a format on the iPhone and .3pg on Android. Although you can set Author Id and Worktype this meta data is lost when sent using the free model of the app. Also an odd choice of recording formats, as neither format is compatible with the ODMS transcription module software for Windows or DSS Player Plus v7 for Mac. So if you do send this format audio to your transcription typist using ODMS they will need to run it through some file conversion. I know that some audio recording app go with .WAV as their recording format which is compatible with the transcription module, however these create much larger audio files which could be an issue when emailing.
Please note, v1.0 of the Olympus Dictation App does not yet support iPhone 5S or 5C, it does support iPhone 4, 4S and 5 running iOS6 and iOS7. Expect an app update shortly to support the 5S and 5C.
Not wholly obvious from the app is the fact that you can now buy a subscription licence (per smartphone) called ODDS or Olympus Dictation Delivery Service. These licences can be obtained from your authorised Olympus dealer and run for 12 months. A 30 day trial is also available so you can try before you buy. With an ODDS licence the app has access to the Olympus Dictation Portal, which is essentially a cloud server used to transfer audio, an alternative to email. With the dictation portal configured the app can then record your audio in the usual .dss or .ds2 audio formats. Yes it does actually create these formats on the phone so some impressive iOS and Android development has gone on. With this format you can embed the usual meta data like Author ID, Worktype and even set the priority. So from a transcription point of view, audio received from the app will look just like audio received from a normal pro dictaphone.
Have Olympus breached Apple policy? By selling the ODDS subscription outside of the app store I have a feeling Olympus may have inadvertently broken Apple’s rules, removing Apple’s slice of the app revenue (currently 30% of all sales, including subscriptions). This was well documented back in 2011 when the New York Times tried to procure subscription payments outside of the Apple app store wall. And this led to the in-app purchase and in-app subscription changes that Apple added to iOS. I have asked Olympus for a comment on this.
Over on our Australian blog we have a full rundown of the key differences between the free version of the app and the subscription enabled version, click the link below to head there.