The technical details of recording a call on an Android phone are relatively easy to grasp, but there’s more to it than meets the eye. First and foremost, it’s important that you are substantially aware of the social and legal ramifications of your phone recording activity.
As a general rule of thumb, it’s a good practice to inform any and all other participants whenever you are recording a call. Apart from being polite and cordial, this approach can also build trust and avoid awkward situations down the line.
But cordiality isn’t a matter of law.
Phone calls can generally be recorded, but it’s only legal if the rules of consent are followed—and these can vary based upon the particular jurisdiction in question. Many countries and U.S. states have different laws concerning recording phone calls. Therefore, you must be aware of the relevant laws in the locality/localities where the phone recording occurs to avoid running afoul of them.
Avoid a Hefty Fine—Or Worse
There are many pitfalls in the form of laws and regulations you should be aware of regarding telephone call recording. No one-size-fits-all protocol exists, but you normally have to ensure you’re providing proper notice and obtaining legitimate consent before initiating a phone recording.
Violating these laws, statutes, or regulations invites fines, penalties, imprisonment, and/or civil damages. For example, legal statutes such as the Federal Wiretap Act and the Louisiana Electronic Surveillance Act can impose penalties of five years in prison, a $500 fine, or both.
It should be noted that these laws cover recording conversations overall, whether they take place in person or over the phone.
One-party consent or two-party consent?
Many states (precisely 37 states, plus the District of Columbia, according to the Wisconsin-based Matthiesen Wickert & Lehrer law firm) require only one side of the conversation to give consent for the recording to proceed.
Meanwhile, 13 states operate what are known as two-party laws. These laws require unanimity, meaning that both sides of the conversation (and/or all parties and participants) must give their permission before a recording can legitimately take place.
In alphabetical order, two-party states include California, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Vermont, and Washington State.
- One-party consent: Federal laws in the United States mandate one-party consent. In states where one-party consent is decreed, the call recording is valid as long as one person knows the call is being recorded. So, if you or your employees are aware a call is being recorded, it’s legally permitted.
- Two-party consent. In some states, consent is required from both parties involved. With two-party consent, both (or all) parties involved in the phone conversation must agree to it and give their consent. After being notified, a party may leave the call if they don’t want their conversation recorded.
Although these laws may make the simple act of recording a phone call seem more complicated than it ought to be, they’re basically the cost of putting data privacy and security at the forefront of phone recording legislation. The fundamental philosophy underpinning these laws is the belief that someone making or receiving a call is entitled to a “reasonable expectation of privacy.”
As challenging as it is to navigate the different laws in various states and regions, the situation can get even more nebulous when dealing with interstate or international calls.
For example, in the United Kingdom, you also need to guarantee that your call won’t be shared with third parties, and that’s on top of having two-party consent.
That’s Not All – Further Limitations
Apart from the legal frameworks you have to grapple with, you also have to obtain software to make recordings in the first place—which can be a hurdle in itself.
Google has proprietary control over the Android operating system, so any stance it takes will have a sizable influence that trickles down into what’s available on phones and what kind of apps are approved in the official Play Store.
Once upon a time, many phone apps had free reign when it came to recording phone calls. However, Google has since clamped down on call recording apps in its Play Store for abusing the accessibility APIs associated with Android.
Put simply, many third-party apps were using Android’s accessibility APIs for purposes that are not accessibility-related, such as recording calls.
This led Google to apply preventive technology on Android phone recording apps, which makes recording calls far more challenging. That said, some apps employ artificial workarounds by creating what seems like a third participant but is actually just a cloud recorder.
Most workarounds are similarly wonky and not very sophisticated, but they can still get the job done in their own ways.
- Google Voice. This free service has been around for a while, and you can leverage it to record incoming calls. It provides a virtual phone number you can use on an existing phone instead of the one supplied with your SIM. It doesn’t allow you to record outgoing calls, however.
- Conference apps like Zoom. These apps have grown in popularity, and most people are already familiar with their features—including those allowing you to record conference call sessions.
What’s Left? Here Are Your Options
There are other ways to record calls on an Android phone, and some of them are worth looking into with more detail.
Phone by Google
Phone by Google is Google’s official phone calling app, which is free and comes with a simple design that’s intuitive and easy to use.
In addition to recording calls from those on your contact list, Phone by Google also allows you to record calls from unknown numbers.
While the Phone by Google allows you to record phone calls, your ability to do so is limited by your device and phone carrier. This is because not every phone device or service carrier supports phone recording.
Cube ACR, billed as an advanced call recorder, is a third-party app that works on Android devices. Someone can also use it to record voice memos on iPhones. It is free to use and downloadable from the Play Store.
Some key takeaways about Cube ACR:
- It provides users with the ability to record incoming and outgoing calls, including voice memos.
- It offers users multiple recording options to choose which suits them the best.
- The app comes with cloud backup (Google Drive), Geotagging, and a smart-clean feature to auto-remove old recordings.
- It provides stable and reliable recording through its Cube Call Recorder.
- The app safeguards your call recordings through various means, such as TouchID/FaceID and PIN lock protection.
- In addition to phone calls, it also records Voice Over IP (VoIP) conversations.
- It is compatible with WeChat, Skype, LINE, Viber, and many more.
Talker ACR is a free Android app that functions as a smart call recorder for both incoming and outgoing calls, including VoIP conversations. You can use Talker ACR on both smartphones and tablet devices.
Here are some of Talker ACR’s top features to consider:
- It offers users unlimited call recording capabilities.
- It works with apps such as WhatsApp, LINE, Facebook, Viber, and Skype.
- Users can choose from a wide range of audio format selections.
- The app offers smart recording management and intelligent storage management.
- It comes with PIN lock protection to safeguard recordings.
- There’s a shake-to-mark capability to mark or highlight important parts of the conversation just by shaking your phone.
TapeACall is one of the leading phone recorder apps available for Android and iPhone.
Some of its key takeaways:
- In addition to providing recordings for incoming and outgoing phone calls, TapeACall also lets you record calls you’re already on.
- The app provides unlimited secure storage space, so you don’t have to worry about losing your recordings.
- It offers highly effective call transcriptions powered by Amazon Web Services (AWS).
- TapeACall allows you to share calls through email, SMS, and storage platforms like Dropbox and Google Drive.
The Easy (Possibly Illegal) Way
The fact that Android phones don’t usually come with built-in call recording software poses a challenge you need to overcome if you must record calls on the device.
To be effective, you might be compelled to adopt some crude methods, such as cranking up the call volume (or putting the call on speaker) and recording the call with something else.
This approach is certainly the easiest, but you should only adopt it when other methods fail or aren’t available because it may occupy a legal gray area—and we don’t condone any illegal activity.
In any case, there are three main ways to record calls when you can’t do it on your phone.
1. Use two phones
This method involves leveraging the voice recording app that most phones are equipped with. Most Android phone manufacturers include such recording apps.
Alternatively, you can use one of the numerous third-party apps available. The advantage is that most third-party apps, like Otter or Temi, are powered by automated AI transcription capabilities.
Simply place both phones side by side while the call is being made. Put the phone receiving the call on speaker while the other does the recording with a voice app, possibly transcribing the conversation while it happens.
2. Use a recording device
If you frequently need to record calls, another hack you can consider is buying a dedicated recording device. You can record calls with this device the same way you would if you were using a recording app on another phone—just place it next to your main phone during an active call and hit record.
3. Buy a different phone
When all else fails, you may want to purchase a phone that has built-in call recording capabilities or one that can use the other workarounds to get the job done. This, of course, could be the most expensive and unrealistic option.
So…When Do You Actually Need to Record a Phone Call?
There are many legitimate reasons why a business or an individual might want to record a call.
For instance, many journalists conducting interviews as part of the job description may find recording the conversation is more convenient, accurate, and effective than taking notes using shorthand.
Likewise, some other call recording purposes include:
- Training and quality control. Recording prospective sales calls for quality control and training purposes enables organizations to hone their training methods more effectively.
- Performance analytics. Analyzing calls by evaluating customer sentiment, emotion, frustration, and other metrics can help lead to changes that impact customer retention and enhance the customer experience.
- Legal confirmation of a transaction. Phone recording is both evidentiary and preemptive as a strong line of defense in the event of litigation. Hence, it is a means to prevent unsubstantiated “he said/she said” rumors and potential business disputes.
- Detailed remembering. Human memory is unreliable, especially when it comes to long-winded conversations. Phone recording provides documentation that captures anything you may have missed, for instance, when discussing with a medical professional and your health is predicated on correctly capturing all the information. You may also wish to record calls with family members or loved ones for sentimental reasons.
- Maintaining industry compliance. Certain industries require certain standards to be met. For instance, if you are a telemarketer, you must adhere to the laws established by the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) and the TCPA (Telephone Consumer Protection Act.).
At the End of the Day
Although recording phone calls is possible on many devices, many laws dictate if and how you may record a call. When in doubt, it’s often best to mitigate risk by asking for consent from all parties involved—otherwise, you risk looking over your shoulder for the proverbial lawman.
Some of the best methods for recording calls on Android devices include workarounds with third-party apps. If your phone can’t take advantage of these, you can always try recording calls via video calling platforms or other VoIP services.