One of the smartphone apps that I learned about at Journalism Intereactive conference in February was Audioboo, an audio recording and publishing tool. I like how it is simple and elegant in terms of both design and use.
To get the most out of Audioboo, it really is best to set up a free account with the service to take advantage of the social networking capability and potential for longer clips.
You’re limited to 3 minutes per recording for the free version, but you can pay to have longer clips (what the service calls a “Boo”). The “Audioboo Plus” service gives you the ability to produce 30-minute clips, but the price is fairly steep at about $95 a year. There are cheaper services such as Soundcloud, but they aren’t as easy to use. My hope is the cost comes down, but one thing to consider for a classroom situation would be a shared class account. Something that can be shared by 10 students suddenly makes the cost a heck of a lot more reasonable.
Whether you choose free or premium, though, Audioboo is a very nice app.
Audioboo works somewhat like an audio version of YouTube. You record and publish to the web, but the recordings also are available to subscribers through a type of social network setup where you can choose to follow people who have an account. Clips produced by anyone you follow on Audioboo are viewable in your Contacts on the app itself. The clips also are accessible on the Audioboo web site (my profile page), so you can share individual links for your recordings. Finally, your Boos also are available via RSS, meaning that people can subscribe to your feed that way.
But your work is not just tied to the app or the Audioboo.fm profile page that you create when you set up an account. The clips also are embeddable, and they look like this when you’re done:
The embed technology is a nice feature. I wish it was a bit easier to customize the look of it. At the very least, narrowing the width of the box so you can flow text around it would be a welcome feature for those who embed. This is easily done if you know some design code, of course, but for beginning-level students they’re likely stuck with what Audioboo gives them.
We’ll be using Audioboo in my Multimedia Storytelling class so the students can get a feel for how the technology works and explore uses for it. They’ll likely be embedding short interview clips at first to go with larger stories, but we probably will try our hand at podcasting if we have time.
Two things to note about publishing on Audioboo. First, everything is default public. If you want to make your recordings available to only some users, you’ll need to change the settings accordingly. Second, location is turned on by default and you’ll have to disable that in the app if you don’t want your home location viewable when you publish from there. I can see certain advantages to having location tags on some stories, so as always consider the benefits and drawbacks of putting location tags on content on a story-by-story basis.