DropVox Help

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dropvox@irradiatedsoftware.com

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DropVox Requirements

DropVox requires iOS 7 and a Dropbox[1] account.
Sign up for 2GB of FREE Dropbox storage at http://www.dropbox.com/register

Connecting to Dropbox

Linking DropVox with Dropbox
Linking DropVox with Dropbox

DropVox has two ways of connecting to Dropbox:

  • “Folder Access”; or
  • “Full Access (default).”

“Folder Access” gives DropVox read/write access only to files inside a special folder in /Apps/DropVox. This option is more secure, but Dropbox does not allow you to invite people to share this folder. However, file and folder shared links do work[2].

“Full Access” gives DropVox full read/write access to any file/folder inside your Dropbox. This option can raise some privacy concerns with users, but we promise DropVox will only make use of the folder /DropVox (by default). “Full Dropbox” is the only option that allows you to invite others to share your recordings folder[2].

Which connect method should you choose? The default of “Full Access” access is right for most people. If you have security concerns, you can choose “Folder Access” instead.

To connect to Dropbox using “Full Access” permissions, tap the blue button[3].

To connect to Dropbox using “Folder Dropbox” permissions, press and hold the blue button. A menu appears with the options “Folder Access (more secure)” and “Full Access (default).”

You can always change your connection type later in the DropVox Settings.

Note: You can also choose your upload folder.

Using DropVox

Recording

DropVox recording in action
DropVox recording in action

Tap the red button to start recording. Double-tap to pause or single-tap to stop and have the recording automatically upload to Dropbox.[4]

Microphones

DropVox supports recording with the internal microphone, external microphones, wired headsets and bluetooth headsets. See more below.

DropVox requires permission to access the microphone for recording. The first time you try to record, DropVox will ask for permission. You should only need to grant permission once. If you ever need to access the microphone permissions:

  • Open the Settings app.
  • Select “Privacy.”
  • Select “Microphone.”

Uploading

DropVox uploading in action
DropVox uploading in action

DropVox automatically uploads recordings to Dropbox when internet access is available.

If an internet connection is not available, you will see “WAITING TO UPLOAD” in the upload status bar at the bottom. Don’t worry, recordings are kept on the device until they can be uploaded to Dropbox, and only removed from the device once they have been uploaded successfully.

Background Uploading

After recording, you can leave DropVox and files will be uploaded to Dropbox in the background[5]. DropVox app icon with badge An indicator badge on the DropVox app icon shows how many recordings are uploading or waiting to be uploaded.

Note: For large audio files, you may need to keep DropVox running in the foreground[6] to allow the upload to complete. Otherwise, when DropVox runs in the background[5], it only has about 3 minutes to complete the upload.

You can also retrieve recordings manually using “iTunes Access”.

DropVox Settings

DropVox settings
DropVox settings

Play indicator sounds

On by default.

When this setting is on, DropVox plays a sound when a recording starts, a different sound when the recording stops or pauses, and a third sound when uploads are complete.

You can hear the sounds in this video: https://vimeo.com/95939163

Record in higher quality

Off by default.

When this setting is off, recordings are produced in 22khz mono, 40kbps MP3 format. This is a good setting for voice capture, with better-than-telephone-quality sound[7].

When this setting is on, recordings are produced in 44khz mono, 80kbps MP3 format or 44khz stereo, 160kbps MP3 format if a stereo microphone is present. This is a good setting for high-fidelity audio, such as music.

Record in the background

Off by default.

When this setting is off, pressing the power button to sleep the screen or leaving DropVox (by pressing the Home button or using the App Switcher) stops recording.

When this setting is on, recording continues when you leave DropVox or press the power button.

You can usually see when DropVox is recording in the background if the status bar is red[8]. DropVox red status bar shows when recording in the background

Tapping on the red status bar will return you to DropVox.

Background recording comes with a few caveats, which is why it’s turned off by default. See “Best Practices” for considerations when this setting is enabled.

Record on launch

Off by default.

When this setting is on, DropVox automatically starts recording upon launch, without pressing the “Record” button.

Choose Upload Folder

Tap this button to bring up a Dropbox folder browser[9].

You can create new folders by tapping “New Folder” in the lower right. Once you browse into the folder you want DropVox to use for new recordings, tap the “Upload Here” button in the lower left.

Browsing Dropbox to choose an upload folder
Browsing Dropbox to choose an upload folder

Unlink from Dropbox

Tap this button to disconnect DropVox from the current Dropbox account.

You may want to do this for a couple of reasons:

If you have recordings waiting to be uploaded, they will remain on your device and will be uploaded once you’ve linked to Dropbox again.

Other Features

Wifi-Only Uploading

If you do not want DropVox to use your cellular data, iOS provides a way to disable cellular data use for individual apps[10]:

  • Open the Settings app.
  • Select “Cellular.”
  • Find DropVox in the list of apps under “Use Cellular Data For:”
  • Turn the indicator switch for DropVox to the “off” position.

URL Scheme

If you’re using an app like Launch Center Pro, you can add integration with DropVox using our URL scheme[11].

  • To launch DropVox, use: dropvox://
  • To launch DropVox and start recording, use: dropvox://record

iTunes Access

You can directly access DropVox recordings not yet uploaded to Dropbox using iTunes on a PC or Mac[12]:

  • Connect your device.
  • Launch iTunes.
  • Select the device in the Sidebar.
  • Select the Apps tab.
  • Scroll down and choose DropVox from the Apps list in the File Sharing section.
  • Select the recordings you wish to transfer to your computer.
  • Click “Save to…” and choose a destination on your hard drive.

Disclaimer

Irradiated Software, LLC shall not be held liable for data loss under any circumstances.


We have made every attempt to ensure DropVox creates are safely delivers recordings to Dropbox (See “Why switch from M4A (MP4) in DropVox 1 to MP3 in DropVox 2?” below).

However, DropVox is built on top of a number of systems that are outside our control, and it is possible for recordings to get corrupted or lost. This is true of ALL recorders on iOS, so we can only recommend using DropVox for short, non-essential recordings. If you are a professional we suggest using a purpose-built recording device.

We don’t want you to think DropVox is unreliable; it’s just important for you to understand the potential of data loss and consider this when using DropVox (or any recorder on iOS[13]).

Best Practices

Making a good audio recorder for iOS is surprisingly difficult[13]. A lot of things can go wrong, and while we’ve done our best to handle every case in our power, there are still situations that fall within your control, so here’s what you need to know.

Interruptions

Only one app has control over audio at a time. If DropVox is recording and another app takes control, that’s called an “interruption.” When the interruption is over, it’s only possible for DropVox to resume recording if its in the foreground[6], which is why we caution against using the “Record in the background” setting.

Here is an incomplete list actions/events that cause an interruption while DropVox is recording:

  • Receiving or making a phone call, FaceTime, etc.
  • Receiving an alarm from events or timers.
  • Invoking Siri.
  • Playing audio in another app such as music, video, some games, etc.
  • Recording in another app such as Voice Memos or Shazam.

Example interruption:

  • Start recording with DropVox.
  • Receive and answer a phone call. => DropVox is paused. No audio can be recorded during an interruption.
  • Phone call ends. => DropVox is shown and recording resumes.

Our Guidelines

If you use “Record in the background” and receive an interruption while recording, always return to DropVox after the interruption ends to make sure recording resumes.

DropVox is best for short recordings, but if you plan on longer recordings, also consider Apple’s Guidelines just below.

Apple’s Guidelines

Apple provides these guidelines for “guaranteeing an uninterrupted recording”:

  • In the Settings app, ensure that Airplane Mode is turned on, for devices that have an Airplane mode.
  • In the Settings app, ensure that Do Not Disturb is turned on.
  • In the Calendar app, ensure that there are no event alarms enabled during the planned recording period.
  • In the Clock app, ensure that no clock alarms are enabled during the planned recording period.
  • For devices that have a Silent switch (called the Ring/Silent switch on iPhone), do not move the switch during the recording. When you change to Silent mode, an iPhone may vibrate, for example, depending on user settings.
  • Do not plug in or unplug a headset during recording. Likewise, do not dock or undock the device during recording.
  • Do not plug the device into a power source during the recording. When an iOS device gets plugged into power, it may beep or vibrate, according to the device and to user settings.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What audio file format does DropVox use?

Dropvox records in the highly robust and ubiquitous MP3 audio file format. See “Record in higher quality” above for specifics.

Where are my recordings in Dropbox?

By default, either in the /DropVox or /Apps/DropVox folder, depending on how you linked to Dropbox (see “Connecting to Dropbox” above).

Since you can also “Choose Upload Folder” in the DropVox settings, your recordings can potentially be stored anywhere in Dropbox.

Recordings are conveniently named after the current date and time ensuring they will show up in chronological order within your Dropbox folder.

Here’s an example file name for a recording made on May 18th, 2014 at 9:37 AM (and 9 seconds): DV-2014-05-18-093709.mp3

How do I listen to my recordings?

After DropVox finishes uploading, you can access your recordings three ways:

  • On the Dropbox.com website.
  • On any Mac or PC where Dropbox is set to sync.
  • On your iOS device using the Dropbox app.

On Mac or PC, recordings can be listened to using iTunes, QuickTime or VLC.

If you’re having trouble locating your recordings, see “Where are my recordings in Dropbox?” above.

Can I listen to recordings in DropVox?

No, DropVox simply captures audio to Dropbox.

See “How do I listen to my recordings?” above.

Can DropVox upload recordings made with Apple’s Voice Memos app?

No, DropVox can only upload recordings it makes.

What is the maximum recording length?

DropVox is designed for short messages, but the only limit on the length of recordings in the available storage on your iOS device. During testing, I recorded for 99 hours without a problem. Also see “Best Practices” above.

You may want to use iTunes to manually retrieve large recordings to avoid lengthy upload times. See “iTunes Access” above.

Will you make DropVox for Android/Windows Mobile/My Toaster/etc.?

We are looking for a developer to port DropVox to other platforms.

In the meantime, a customer recommended NetMemo+ for Android.

Can DropVox record phone calls?

No, iOS does not allow any app to record audio while a phone call is in progress.

There are apps in the App Store that claim to record phone calls. What they really do is provide a phone number that enables a three-way call. A back-end service then records the three-way call. The app itself cannot record a phone call.

Is DropVox secure?

All communications between DropVox and Dropbox are secured with SSL, the same technology used to secure the majority of online transactions.

DropVox does not encrypt recordings, so keep your device safe and prevent anyone from accessing your Dropbox account.

Irradiated Software never has access to your Dropbox password or recordings; all recordings are sent directly to Dropbox.

Will you add feature XYZ?

I love hearing from customers and I will certainly consider any requests. Hopefully, you’ve read “The Intention Behind DropVox” and will keep that in mind when asking.

Will you add support for Google Drive/Box/OneDrive (formerly Skydrive)/etc.?

There are currently no plans to do so.

Does DropVox work without the Internet?

An internet connection is required to initially link with Dropbox. After that, you can record online or offline. If an internet connection is not available when you create a recording, DropVox stores the files and uploads them when an internet connection is available.

See also “Uploading” under Using DropVox and “iTunes Access” above.

Why can I hear the indicator sounds when the mute switch is on?

Because DropVox is an audio recorder/player, sounds that it plays are treated as audio (like music) instead of alerts (which obey the mute button).

If you don’t like the indicator sounds, you can always disable them in the DropVox Settings.

Does DropVox support Bluetooth headsets or external microphones?

Yes, we have tested:

  • Bluetooth headsets.
  • Microphones and headsets that plug into the headphone jack.
  • Stereo microphones that plug into the 30-pin and Lightning connector.
  • USB microphones plugged into the Lightning connector using the USB Camera Adapter.

DropVox will record using the most recently connected audio input device. Otherwise, audio is recorded using the internal microphone. DropVox can handle a microphone/headset being plugged in or unplugged while recording, but doing that is not recommended.

I got an “Unable to Record” error, what should I do?

Sometimes DropVox can’t start recording because the microphone is being used by another app or it’s locked up.

Please restart DropVox and try to record again.

If that doesn’t work, try toggling the microphone permissions:

  • Open the Settings app.
  • Select “Privacy.”
  • Select “Microphone.”
  • Turn the indicator switch for DropVox to the “off” position then turn it back “on.”
  • Open DropVox and try recording again.

If neither option works, you’ll need to restart your device.

Why switch from M4A (MP4) in DropVox 1 to MP3 in DropVox 2?

I was distressed by the number of ways M4A files could be corrupted while recording and result in unplayable audio, which is totally unacceptable. After spending weeks trying to find and work around these corruption issues, I decided DropVox needed to switch to a more robust and corruption resistant audio file format. MP3 recordings are incredibly resilient to corruption.

The upside is that MP3 files are more universal and DropVox is perhaps the most robust recorder available for iOS.

The downside is that MP3 files require a slightly higher bitrate to produce similar quality to the original M4A recordings, meaning that files are about 20% larger. Also, encoding requires more CPU, which means shorter battery life. In my testing, an iPhone 4S recorded M4A for 27 hours before powering off compared to 23.5 hours for MP3.

Footnotes


  1. Dropbox and the Dropbox logo are trademarks of Dropbox, Inc.  ↩

  2. The different types of Dropbox sharing.  ↩

  3. For VoiceOver users the blue button is called “Link to Dropbox.”  ↩

  4. For VoiceOver users, add an additional tap. So “single-tap to start recording” becomes a “double-tap” while “double-tap to pause” becomes a “triple-tap.” This is standard behavior for interacting with controls using VoiceOver.  ↩

  5. DropVox is in the background whenever you leave DropVox by pressing the Home button, using the App Switcher (double-pressing the Home button), or locking/sleeping the screen by pressing the power button.  ↩

  6. DropVox is in the foreground when DropVox is the application currently being used and the screen is unlocked.  ↩

  7. This is also a good setting for transcription software like Dragon Dictate or Dragon Naturally Speaking by Nuance.  ↩

  8. The red status bar is shown whenever an app is recording audio in the background. You can see which app is responsible in the second line of the status bar. This feature is built into iOS and we can’t turn it off or change the color or text.  ↩

  9. The “Choose Upload Folder” browser only shows folders. You can’t access your recordings from here. See “Can I listen to recordings in DropVox?” for more info.  ↩

  10. Apple’s instructions to make apps upload only over Wifi and not use Cellular Data: http://support.apple.com/kb/HT4146  ↩

  11. x-callback-url will be considered for a future release.  ↩

  12. A video demonstration of iTunes Access: https://vimeo.com/54856041.  ↩

  13. I have put a lot of recorder apps for iOS through my DropVox test plan and all have failed (lost data). Some failures are due to poor implementation and not following Apple’s guidelines; other failures are do to scenarios completely outside the app’s control. This is the nature of commodity hardware (iPhone/iPod Touch/iPad) running a consumer grade operating system (iOS).  ↩