Alice is interviewing and transcription software for journalists. A fair few writers have shaped the product and the business model and we continue to recruit writers and journalists to join and strengthen the community behind it. In the words of writer Adam Fisher, "Alice is a word processor for audio".
Alice is structured as a simple business: we aim to provide something of value, and if people like it enough, they buy it, tell a few friends, and we get to continue tomorrow. You can begin using Alice with a full-featured free recording and transcription package. There isn't a subscription model. No commitment. Nothing to cancel. No kidding. Check out the pricing page for pay-as-you-go options.
Read more about Alice and privacy on the FAQs page.
"I'm on a mission: to help journalists be more productive, working with them to build a focused product, backed by a clear business model."
My Product Development Principles
There are a few things I like to keep in mind and guide my teams as we create products. Here's 3 of them.
We've never had faster computers than what we have today. We've never had a faster Internet than what we have today. It really bothers me when despite these facts, multi-billion dollar companies routinely deliver products with loading spinners. How are they not ashamed? Whatever we make must be fast.
Design is both how it works and how it presents itself. Make the simplest possible products to solve a specific problem for a specific group of people. Strive for empathy and elements of joy in our design. Work the problem, hand-in-hand with the audience, iterating on ideas until finally we know the scope of what must be delivered and how it should be priced. The feedback and improvement cycle repeats itself throughout the lifecycle of the product. Always prefer to integrate with tools you already use than to create another silo of content.
I deeply value online privacy. Your data belongs to you. With Alice, we don't ask for your name, nor require your real email address, we don't store your credit card information, your phone number, track your browsing habits nor your location. There are many free apps available on the market. Alice is not one of them. For a company to sustain itself it has to sell something. Thus when you use a free product, you are the commodity being traded and tracked. And while the ad-supported model may work for Facebook, it's not something I will even consider for Alice. Your data will never be sent to a third party to support ads or targeting of any kind. We don't place ads, we don't run ads. We also don't maintain marketing lists nor sell emails or any data.
- Karan Gupta, Chief Scientist, Alice
How Alice Got Started
It all started with a conversation and a cocktail, between one tech guy and one Silicon Valley journalist. If the story was to get published, here's how it might go:
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - At the end of 2017 a strange email landed in the inbox of Adam Fisher, the technology journalist and best-selling author. The email said, “I came across your story on Tony Fadell in Wired. I was wondering if you use an app to record interviews? How do you keep track of a quote in a 2hr recording? Does it transcribe?”
“Honestly, I was skeptical,” recalls Fisher, “was this some sort of phishing campaign? Was this 'Gupta' guy psychic? How did he know what I was thinking about?”
“I just saw amazing strides that automatic transcription was making in the lab,” says Gupta, a seasoned software engineer and entrepreneur based in Silicon Valley, “and I wondered if it would be helpful to journalists.”
The email-out-of the-blue led to a two-year collaboration between Gupta, Fisher, and a number of other prominent journalists and writers, including Felix Salmon, the Slate Money podcaster and head financial journalist for Axios, Charlie Graeber, the NYT best selling author and veteran magazine writer.
Alice has no known failure mode: Out of memory? Out of battery? Out of Wifi range? Out of cell range? None of it can destablize Gupta’s software. Has the actual phone been bricked? Confiscated? Cracked? Wiped? Still not a problem -- because Alice emails the original recording and a machine transcription moments after a interview is stopped, for any reason. Better still Alice’s breakthrough UI means there’s no chance of user-error -- which is by far the most common cause of lost interviews.
“It’s idiot-proof!” says Fisher, “I haven’t lost an interview yet -- and not having to transcribe my own interviews has doubled my productivity.”
“No buttons” says Gupta, “that’s the essence of the design. And it’s wrapped around Google’s speech-recognition API -- the world’s best, and getting better all the time.”
Since then, we've been lucky enough to get guidance and feedback from several writers. All this input helps us make a better system for the one audience we deeply care about.