When Apple’s new iOS 7 debuts in Fall, two features I believe could mean major improvements for #iphonereporting are FaceTime Audio and AirDrop.
I’m not a developer, and don’t have a beta version with which to experiment, so these are just first impressions on how the new operating system could benefit journalists, public relations professionals, and newsmakers.
Forward-thinkingNick Garnettof the BBC has pioneered doing live reports with FaceTime, in its current video configuration.
In my testing, the connection is generally more stable than Skype, in both WiFi and LTE.
During FaceTime video, the microphone used is located in the phone’s earpiece (where you listen during a standard phone call), next to the front camera.
Holding that microphone a few inches from your mouth provides good, but slightly tinny audio (and a close-up view of your tonsils to the person on the other end of the video chat.)
With FaceTime Audio I’m hopeful the microphone engaged will be the far-superior microphone located on the bottom of the iPhone, directly to the left of the charging part.
The microphone on the bottom of the phone has much better bass response. I use that built-in bottom mic for the majority of my #iphonereporting.
To this point, it’s required some wired connections to transfer videos and photos taken on iPhone to iPad for editing. AirDrop will allow wireless sharing between devices (as long as you have an AirCloud account).
If you’re enthusiastic about how other iOS 7 features could help in #iphonereporting, I’d love to hear about them!
The power of #iphonereporting isn’t limited to journalists — public safety and other agency spokespeople can harness the iPhone to get their message out more clearly and quickly.
While PIOs are embracing Twitter and Facebook to quickly disseminate information on breaking news, they’re missing an opportunity to provide good-quality audio that can be aired by radio and TV stations and online news organizations.
Historically, after putting out a tweet on a breaking news situation, PIOs are inundated with calls from news organizations seeking a phone or in-person interview, and asking when a news conference will be held.
The result is poor-sounding audio, and a PIO who’s answering the same questions a dozen times.
Here’s my solution that will make reporters happy, and allow you to gather information and organize a news conference: tweet great-sounding audio using the free SoundCloud app.
SoundCloud is a free service that’s like YouTube for audio.
With the free SoundCloud iPhone (or Android) app, a PIO can record several minutes of near-studio-quality audio into the built-in microphone of the mobile device, and quickly upload it to SoundCloud.
The URL from the uploaded file can be easily tweeted, posted on Facebook, and embedded on your agency’s website.
Anyone who clicks on the hyperlink will hear excellent-quality audio.
In newsrooms, reporters and producers can record the audio on their desktop computers.
Radio stations will get the audio on-air quickly. Television stations will have good audio to run over images provided by their cameramen or the public.
Forward-thinking PIOs ‘get it.’
Pete Piringer, Director of Communications for the city of Laurel, Md., and former spokesperson for local fire departments embraces the idea.
“One component that’s often missing as we get the information out is the audio part — good, quality audio,” says Piringer. “It will make things more efficient and improve our use of time if we’re out on a scene.”
Tweeting audio is an improvement over a tried-and-true, but now outdated method of communicating with reporters, says Alan Etter, former spokesperson for DC’s Fire and Emergency Medical Services.
“We used to maintain a tape line,” says Etter.
But a recorded tape line has two problems — the sound is phone-quality, and the reporter has to call it repeatedly to check for updates.
“Now with each tweet you’ll get studio-quality audio in a way that’s easy for the PIO and the reporter,” says Etter. “I hope it catches on.”
Julie Parker, a former reporter who is now the Media Relations Director with the Prince George’s County, Md. Police Department appreciates being able to provide air-quality audio “while a lack of time or resources might have otherwise prevented.”
“It’s a win for the media outlet, a win for the department, and ultimately a win for the community,” says Parker.
Step right up, PIOs — glad to answer any questions.
Seconds after arriving at an emergency scene, filing and sharing a quick report based on information gathered by the WTOP desk, before going underground into the Metro system. Thanks to Joel Gwadz for capturing this #iphonereporting moment.
Facebook Messenger: Not ready for #iphonereporting
I had high hopes when I read Facebook Messenger on iOS devices was updated to include voice messages.
As you see in the first photo, a reporter could choose to Record Voice, in addition to sending a photo to a Facebook page.
In the second photo, by pressing and holding the red button, the reporter could record and automatically upload up to one minute of audio.
In my mind, this would be another, even easier way for an #iphonereporter to deliver studio-quality audio from a mobile device, directly to the WTOP Facebook page.
Even more encouraging, I envisioned this as a one-touch method for listeners/viewers with iOS devices to add studio-quality, rather than phone-quality audio to the conversation, which could be recorded from the WTOP page and used in reporter pieces.
Here are the problems:
1. While the Facebook Messenger mobile app quickly and effortlessly uploads clip to another’s page, the audio quality is mediocre — about as poor as a cell phone.
2. Facebook Messenger only facilitates interaction between an individual user Profile, not a Page, which is geared for businesses (like WTOP) and organizations.
With so many ways to deliver studio-quality audio, including the Vericorder apps and SoundCloud, the ease-of-recording for a reporter is far outweighed by the degradation in sound quality.
And, the inability for listeners with Facebook Messenger to interact with a commercial page, means they’ll still have to switch to the station’s website, or Facebook page, or make a cell call.