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Tool of the week for journalists: Transcribe, a Chrome web app that saves time

Tool of the week: Transcribe

What is it? Transcribe is a simple Chrome web app that allows you to upload audio and transcribe it without switching between an audio player and a text editing document

How is it of use to journalists? Transcribe is a favourite here at We may have shorthand but usually opt to record Skype and phone interviews in order to concentrate on the conversation and refer back later.

If you have ever tried to transcribe quotes or sections from an audio interview and toggled between a text-editing document and the audio player, you will love this tool as it will save you time.

This free Chrome web app allows you to upload an mp3 or wav file and transcribe within the box below the player. It has some handy shortcuts, the most useful of which is the ‘esc’ key that pauses the audio and re-starts it from a second before the point at which you stopped it.

There are also shortcuts to rewind and speed up the recording, but Mac users with function keys (F1, F2 etc) set to perform other tasks will find this less useful.

Another benefit of this tool is the ability to use it off line, when working from a train, for example.

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Economist launches US election web app

January 11th, 2012 | No Comments | Posted by in Mobile

The Economist has launched Electionism, an HTML5 web app for tablets, focusing on the US election.

Publishers will be interested to note the development of an app that works across a range of tablets, including the iPad, Galaxy Tab and Kindle Fire (yet to be released in the UK), and will also soon be available on the Blackberry PlayBook.

Rather than being downloaded from an app store, it is accessed by following a link in the tablet’s web browser.

Although designed for tablets, a simple version of the app works on mobile, presenting a Tumblr blog-style format (indeed, the app is “powered by Tumblr”).

This is the the Economist’s first foray into a web app that will work across several devices, unlike its range of apps native to Android and Apple’s iOS.

Electionism includes content from the Economist, CQ Roll Call and other noteworthy election reports from around the web.

Tom Standage, digital editor of the Economist, said in a release:

Electionism combines the Economist’s day-to-day opinion and commentary on the US elections, from our Webby-award-winning Democracy in America blog, with detailed on-the-ground coverage from CQ Roll Call and our picks of the best election coverage from elsewhere on the web, all wrapped up in a tablet-friendly format.

Nick Blunden, global managing director and publisher of the Economist online added:

It is extremely important to us that we provide our readers with not just commentary and analysis, but also the opportunity to discuss and debate the key issues. By building content sharing functionality through Facebook, Twitter and email into the Electionism app, we have provided readers with the ability to engage others in a conversation around the election.

Electionism was created by the Economist Group Media Lab, an internal product innovation group, and built in conjunction with its Toronto-based technology partner, Pressly.

  • Tom Standage, who is quoted in thus post, will be speaking at news:rewired, a conference for digital journalists organised by See the agenda, list of speakers and list of delegates. Tickets cost £130 +VAT and can be booked using the ticket page. More than 140 tickets have been sold. Book now to avoid disappointment.
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#Tip of the day from – use Transcribe for typing quotes from audio

If you record interviews and listen back to take quotes, there is a handy web app you should know about.

Transcribe is a free web app available in the Chrome web store that allows you to upload an mp3 or wav file and then type your text below.

It has two main benefits over listening back to an interview via another player. Firstly, it saves you toggling between an audio player or iTunes and your text document or CMS. It also has a nifty pause button that automatically plays from a second or two before the point at which you stopped the recording. It may not sound like a particularly ingenious tool but this is a really helpful feature.

The app also works offline, it automatically saves your text and it has short cuts to rewind, fast forward and pause.

Click this link for 10 free Chrome web apps that journalists should know about.

Tipster: Sarah Marshall

If you have a tip you would like to submit to us at email us using this link– we will pay a fiver for the best ones published.

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#Tip of the day from – use iPiccy for preparing images for the web

If you usually crop, resize, fix and add borders to images using Photoshop, there is a free web app you should know about.

iPiccy is a web app available in the Chrome store that will help you perform basic image edits.

It will save you from launching Photoshop and is worth remembering when you find yourself working on a computer without an image editing application.

Click this link for 10 free Chrome web apps that journalists should know about.

Tipster: Sarah Marshall

If you have a tip you would like to submit to us at email us using this link– we will pay a fiver for the best ones published.

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FT web app has been used 1m times

November 21st, 2011 | No Comments | Posted by in Mobile, Traffic

The Financial Times is reporting that its web app has clocked up one million hits since it was launched in June.

Around 45 per cent of users have bookmarked the FT web app to a iPhone or iPad, replicating a native app experience by providing an app icon on the device’s home screen.

The app, which is free to download but through which content is limited due to a cross-platform part paywall, saw 150,000 uses in the first 10 days; five months on it has achieved one million clicks on the url.

The web app, built with HTML5 technology, has two advantages for the FT over its previous native iPhone and iPad apps: it avoids the FT paying Apple a 30 per cent cut, the charge for any music, app or book publisher selling through its store, and the FT gets to access and own its audience data.

In a post on its blog the FT said the web app has “significantly boosted mobile and tablet traffic”. now sees 20 per cent of total page views and 15 per cent of new B2C subscriptions each week coming directly from mobile and tablet devices. These readers are also more engaged, with users who register on mobiles and tablets 2.5 times more likely to subscribe, as well as being more active in giving feedback.

The FT has also produced an infographic.

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Ten free apps in the Chrome web store that journalists should know about

November 17th, 2011 | 2 Comments | Posted by in Handy tools and technology, Lists

Google’s Chrome web store, containing web apps, browser extensions, games and themes, launched in the UK in September following a US release in February.

You can access the store via the Chrome browser homepage and toggle between your “most visited” websites and available “apps”.

Here are 10 free apps and extensions in the Chrome web store that are useful tools for journalists.

1. Duedil

This is the browser extension enhancing an invaluable site for journalists working across all sectors. Duedil allows you to view company financial information, lists of directors and more in clear graphs and charts.

Click on any website and then the browser extension and you can look up the financial information on that firm. It may need assistance in recognising the correct company, however.

For example, if I am on the Guardian’s website and click the browser extension, I will get details for a company called Guardian Education Interactive. I must then select “not the company I am looking for” and enter Guardian Media Group. Clicking on a director’s name, such as in this case Alan Rusbridger, links me through to the full Duedil website.

2. SocialBro

This is a web app for Twitter and social media analytics. Sync your account/s and you will see a dashboard where you can find out the best time to tweet, map your followers and see the ratio of followers to friends.

3. News readers

Okay, this is a group of browser extensions and web apps but worth mentioning as one category. The Guardian, Independent, and several other national newspapers have opted for Chrome extensions, allowing you to read the headlines from your browser.

The New York Times has opted for a web app with more story detail, which fills the browser.

4. iPiccy

This web app is a simple image photo editor and handy for any journalists who have to prepare images for the web.

5. Transcribe

If you record interviews and play them back later to transcribe them this is a must have app. It gets round the problem of playing audio in one application (such as iTunes) and then writing in a text document.

Add your mp3 or wav audio file and you can transcribe by typing in the box below the player. It also works offline. One of the great features are the short cuts: alt+p = pause/resume, alt+i = rewind two seconds, alt+o = forward two seconds.

6. Mappeo

Mappeo is a useful web app for regional reporters or anyone covering a localised story, such as a protest. Open the app and you will see a map of geolocated videos that have been uploaded to YouTube. You can click on the icon to launch and play the video.

7. Aviary audio editor

This is a great free app for broadcast journalists and podcasters. Simply upload audio in a variety of formats, select whether this is private to you or public, and decide how you want to licence it.


There are lots of SEO tools in the Chrome web store. SEO SERP is a useful browser extension for any journalists mindful of web traffic and keywords.

For example, type “journalism jobs” and see is top of the Google rankings, or (as below) type in keywords such as Leveson and see who is ranked top.

9. TinEye

Add this browser extension, right click on a picture or upload an image and you can find out where else it has been used. It could be a valuable journalism tool to verify photographs. It can even scan for reversed images.

10. Kindle it

This is a handy option for Kindle users. It allows you to send web pages to your Kindle for reading later.


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paidContent: Apple drops Financial Times apps from store

August 31st, 2011 | No Comments | Posted by in Editors' pick, Mobile

Apple has pulled the Financial Times’ native iPad and iPhone apps from the iTunes App Store after updating its terms which state in-app subscriptions must be paid through the store, reports paidContent.

The FT launched a web-based app in June which allows the publisher to avoid paying Apple a 30 per cent cut of it’s app revenue and to gather its own audience data.

This article on paidContent states:

It is a blow to the FT, whose apps had processed subscription transactions independently. Last year, 10 percent of its new digital subscriptions were taken out on iPads. But the publisher says its model is premised on owning data about customers that goes through along with transactions. This was more important to it than Apple’s 30 percent take, CEO John Ridding told [Robert Andrews] recently.

The FT’s web app, which was described as a ‘wake-up call’ to publishers, saw 150,000 uses in the first 10 days before the part-paywall went up, in line with the FT’s other digital platforms.




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Twitter launches HTML5 app for iPad

August 3rd, 2011 | No Comments | Posted by in Mobile, Social media and blogging

Twitter has launched an HTML5 app for the iPad that will be rolling out in the next week or so.

Mashable has a photograph of the app showing a two-column display.

HTML5 apps, such as the one launched by the Financial Times in June, are web-based and hosted on a URL rather than available for download from Apple’s iTunes.


There’s more on web apps v native apps at this link.

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Web apps v native apps v mobile sites: a guide

In two year’s time mobile phones will overtake computers as the most popular device for web browsing, John Barnes, managing director of digital and tech at Incisive Media, told delegates at the Mobile Media Strategies day.

Users expect a seamless experience whether they are accessing websites on a Android device, a BlackBerry, iPhone, tablet, laptop or desktop.

It is therefore essential that news sites understand the future of mobile and work out whether to spend money developing a range of native apps: for iPhone, iPad and Android, for example; a web-based app such as the much-discussed web app launched by the Financial Times less than a fortnight ago; spend time building an or opt for a mobile-friendly site.

Bear in mind the following facts:

  • The smartphone market is 25 per cent of the mobile market in the UK;
  • The UK is Europe’s leading market for smartphones;
  • There are 18 million smartphones in the UK. By 2015 there will be 42.9 million;
  • In 2015 there will be more Android smartphones in Europe than the total number of smartphones in Europe today;
  • Apple has a 82.5 per cent market share of apps;
  • Android’s Market will take a increased market share and dominate the market;
  • BlackBerry will (probably) switch to Android within 18 months, according to Dominic Jacquesson who has written a report on mobile. Indeed the BlackBerry PlayBook, a small tablet, which went on sale this week, can display some Android apps.

And consider your traffic drivers: with social media playing an increasingly important role in directing readers to stories – and with one in every six minutes online spent on social media sites in the US – it is worth noting the use of Facebook is already 40 per cent mobile with 250 million users worldwide, according to Jacquesson. Indeed, Facebook appears to be building an HTML5 web-based app to reach even more people, according to this article posted on TechCrunch.

What is clear from all of the facts is that you need to do something.

“I honestly cannot believe there are still people in publishing who don’t at least have some way of looking at their content on a mobile device that doesn’t mean looking at the full site itself,” said Ilicco Elia, who until last week worked for Reuters, told

There is no one size fits all, according to Mark Kirby, lead developer for Ribot, an award-winning mobile specialist, so his first piece of advice is do your homework.

If your title is B2B then most of your readers will probably be using a BlackBerry device. If you produce an art magazine, your audience is most likely to be one with iPhones and iPads. Do your research and don’t expect just because your readers have, say, Nokia handsets, that they download apps.

If you already have a mobile site you will be able to work out which devices your readers have by using data from Google Analytics and Webtrends.

“Have a look at your site on all handsets used by your audience, test it out and get those less familiar with your site to see how the experience feels for them,” advises Kirby. “Don’t just spend one minute testing on each device, spend at least 10,” he said.

And that experience and journey is very important. “It’s not about what technology can do, it’s about how technology can make you feel,” Elia said at the conference organised by the Media Briefing.

One you have your data some of the results may surprise you. You may find people are reading lengthy articles on a mobile. Just because people are using a mobile for web browsing, do not assume they are on the move and in a hurry. “Some mobile web-browsing takes place at home, and in a study of users of a mobile app, most were using that at home,” Kirby explained.

Mobile sites

The most important thing to remember is “don’t break the web”, which is something of a mantra for Kirby. Social media is likely to be a big traffic driver for you and a link from Twitter, Facebook or email should send a viewer directly to a story and not to your home page.

Kirby also stresses the importance of ensuring all content is on every version of your site and recommends having a button on the home page and each article page to allow users to flip between sites. Some mobile users may want to see the full desktop view, readers with large screens may want to see the mobile version.

He favours a single column view for mobile and spending time thinking about the user’s journey through your site.

There are two ways of creating a mobile site, Kirby explained. You can either opt for a “responsive website”, which uses the same HTML as your main site and a system of different HTML templates to display different sets of data. “You’re simply using CSS Media Queries to reshape it on various different size screens, mobile being one of those,” he said.

The second option is to use device detection “to serve up a different template, a different HTML, to mobile devices”, he explained.

“There are pros and cons of each,” he said. “The second option is less flexible but the first has more pitfalls.”

Where media analyst Elia is a fan of m.sites, which use a different URL beginning with ‘m.’, Kirby feels they are unnecessary. “I can’t really think of any argument for an,” he said.

For those on a low budget Elia suggests taking a look at Instapaper and Readability and using one of them to format pages and suggests Mippin, which can take RSS feeds from your site and turn them into a mobile site or app.

Web apps

Web apps are hosted on a URL and are either made for a specific device or are hybrid apps made to be viewed on any device. The new FT app is currently available for the iPad and iPhone but built with the Android in mind and indeed based on the FT’s Android app.

“The hybrid is built by using HTML technology and a solution such as Phone Gap to package it. It’s much like a native app and some people wouldn’t realise it wasn’t. And then the code can be reused across multiple platforms: the iPhone, Android, BlackBerry and so on,” Kirby explained.

A web app may sound like a perfect solution to a problem in that you pay for the development of one app, rather than two or three, and an in-house developer team may well have the skills to build it. The other big advantage for sites which charge a subscription is that a web-based app bypasses the App Store, so publishers avoid paying Apple a 30 per cent cut for selling their content.

As Elia said: “Most news sites use pretty simple text, pictures and video, so you don’t necessarily tax a device as much as a 3D game would, for example, so a HTML5 web-based app is perfectly acceptable and you will be able to get as much as the wow factor as you need.”

However, readers will need to know that your app exists as they will not find it by searching in the App Store and, unless you are a major player such as the FT so able to generate sufficient buzz to result in 100,000 hits in the first week, you could struggle to get people using it.

The user experience may not be as good as with a native app, although the FT is reporting initial feedback has been good with many users finding the web-based app experience better than the native. If you have an iPad it’s worth testing the FT’s native app against its web-based one.

Kirby said for him (using an iPad 1) the web-based app seemed sluggish. “I have experienced these problems myself when building hybrid apps. It does seem perhaps they’re not there yet but the platforms will improve,” he said.

Native apps

There are two points worth remembering. Firstly “an app should be the answer to a question and not the question itself,” according to Kirby. It needs to be a solution to a problem rather than simply built for the sake of having an app.

Barnes offers a suggestion of how to test your need for one. “Write the press release on the launch of an app before you build it. You’ll often realise it’s a crapp – or a crap app,” he said.

Secondly, there is no need to hurry. “You don’t have to be first when it comes to apps,” Elia said, suggesting it was better to spend more time researching and developing a better app.

And a good app will cost you. Expect to pay a minimum of £20,000 per app as decent developers charge around £1,000 a day and it is likely to be at least two month’s work, Kirby said, and suggested an app is more likely to be in the region of £100,000 to £200,000.

Kirby also pointed out that iPhone, Android and BlackBerry users all have different expectations and expect a certain design. Android readers expect an app that looks like an Android app, iPhone users expect a familiar style, feel and layout too. However, “you need a branded experience across platforms”, Elia said.

The iPad offers “big opportunities for publishers”, Staffan Eckholm, from Bonnier’s Moving Media+ said last week.

But Kirby warns against trying to do too much. For him it is all about user experience – or UI – and he feels GQ’s iPad app is “confusing and stressful”, due to being so complicated it gives instructions on how to use it.

He points those considering a magazine iPad app in the direction of PixMax and to Zinio, an even better option in his opinion, which includes added functionality like links and hyperlinks within the contents pages of its products.

For several publishers initially the number of people using native apps is encouraging. This month the Guardian has reported 400,000 global downloads of its iPhone app, with more than 67,000 paying subscribers; the Economist has reported two million downloads of the iPad and iPhone app with 650,000 regular readers, most of them paying; the Times has not released app stats but in March said it had 79,000 paying digital subscribers; and although the Telegraph has not revealed figures it has said it is “hugely encouraged” by the number of people willing to pay to read news.

So it is worth remembering that it is barely a year since the first iPad hit shops in the UK and that the landscape for news consumption is constantly evolving.

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FT sees 150,000 uses of new web-app in first 10 days

The Financial Times’ new web-based app has been viewed 150,000 times since its launch 10 days ago, which includes 100,000 hits in the first week of launch, the FT said in a media release today.

The FT is the first major news publisher to launch this type of HTML5 hybrid app, which can be viewed across a number of different smartphone and tablet devices.

Steve Pinches, FT group product head, said the app has received very positive feedback.

“Comments include recognition of the technical capabilities of the app and being at the cutting edge of technology. Users have also expressed appreciation for the improved speed of the app and look and feel enhancements when using on the iPhone.”

He explained where the app is heading.

“We will take a two-fold approach to improvements to the app. Firstly we will focus on adding new content to the existing app, including special reports, newspaper graphics and the ability to save articles for later. Secondly we will develop the app for other devices including Honeycomb, Samsung and BlackBerry Playbook.

“Our next priority is releasing the app for Android devices, both large and small screen. Following that we will work on an FT web app for BlackBerry Playbook.”

Initial analysis shows the ‘Companies’ section of the web-app is the most popular, followed by the Life and Arts section, which makes up around 10 per cent of consumption overall. Other popular features include Markets Data, World, Markets and Lex.

“Interestingly, we are seeing much more leisure-type usage, with user peaks early morning, evening and around lunch time. This suggests that as well as a core tool for use during the business day, like on a desktop, the app is an accessory being used on the way to and from work and planning for the day ahead.”

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