While there’s no shortage of video- and audio-recording apps, the one thing most of them rely on is preparedness. In other words, you must be ready, finger on button, waiting for something interesting to happen. This is all well and good for planned events – such as interviews, keynote speeches, and so on. But otherwise, you just have to hope something notable happens while you’re recording.
However, there has been a move towards so-called life-logging tools in recent times, with the likes of the Narrative Clip automatically snapping everything that goes on around you. Just remember to take it off when going through airports, okay?
Now, a new iPhone app has launched that hopes to tap this ‘always on’ trend and apply it to the audio realm.
OverHeard touts itself as a new sound-sharing app that’s looking to do for audio what Vine did for video – introducing the art of short, ‘authentic’ video clips. Minus the repetitive loop though, you’ll be glad to know.
How it works
What makes OverHeard particularly interesting is that it ambiently records and preserves the up to three minutes of sound wherever you are, then starts again deleting the previous audio in the process. So you can open the app and snip out a specific clip if you happen to hear something worth sharing. It’s decidedly more difficult to do this in the video realm, without strapping a GoPro to your head or a clip-on camera to your lapel.
That said, you will still have to have your phone positioned somewhere that isn’t overly muffled – ideally it would be in your shirt pocket or somewhere where the mic will be able to detect sounds well enough.
If you’re thinking this all sounds a bit like Heard for iPhone, well, you would of course be right. There are clear similarities here, but OverHeard does strive to differentiate in a few key ways, insofar as it’s trying to be a social network too.
First up, you’ll need to register an account and give the various permissions to access your microphone and enable background recording.
Within settings, you can stipulate how long you wish each recording-phase to last – 15 seconds, 30 seconds, 60 seconds, or 180 seconds, while there are some audio effects you can play around with too, including: Mr. Reverb, Miss Echo, Mr. Vader, Mr. Roboto, Miss Lolcat, and Miss Funk.
OverHeard is perhaps trying a little too hard to be like Vine, insofar as it’s attempting to create a social network around short-form recorded content. I’m just not sure there will be the same demand for (up to) 3-minute audio clips as there is for genius 6-second looping videos.
You can, however, attach an image to each sound-clip to add a little context to proceedings. So if you’re in a record store and a good tune comes on in the background, well, you can do something like this.
You can follow a stream of users, be it strangers or friends, much like Vine, with a search facility letting you look for specific users.
“We built OverHeard to enable people to share sounds like they share photos – once you start using the app, you become instantly more cognizant of the world around you, and the sounds you can share,” explains Andy Hickl, CEO and founder of OverHeard.
The Heard approach is far more simple, and perhaps in line with how someone is likely to use such a tool – record a clip for their own use or to share with very specific friends and family. I’m just not convinced there’s a social network to be made around this, but I could be wrong.
That all said, OverHeard has been very well designed and executed and could prove to be an excellent tool for capturing things like a sporadic rendition of your favorite song from your buddy on the guitar, or your kid’s first words. Anything spontaneous, really, backed up with photographic evidence to boot.
It’s an interesting concept and we’ll be keeping tabs on this one to see how things progress. OverHeard is available to download from the App Store now.