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The audio recorder with a sneaky twist.

It all started with a simple question: Could we use the iPhone gyroscope to make a secret recorder that started and stopped with a simple rotation? That question became Turntape: the audio recorder with a sneaky twist.

The challenge

If this was an app that was supposed to be used secretly – that is, with nothing appearing on the screen – how would people activate and deactivate the recording? Would we allow people to use it without having the screen darkened? How would people know whether it was actually recording?

A secondary challenge was that the App Store didn’t like the idea that we might be recording without the user being aware. It didn’t matter that this “sneaky behaviour” was part of the concept for the app. From Apple’s view, people could be making recordings without realizing it, and that was a no-no. Back to the drawing board.

The solution

We went through many, many design iterations, completely redesigning the app multiple times before launching it, and then going on to make significant changes after. In terms of interactions, we made big use of gestures – swipe up to darken the screen (which we refer to as “stealth mode”), double tap to exit. We also introduced a small recording indicator while in stealth mode that ensured people would know whether they were recording while still keeping the original concept intact. We published Turntape as a “freemium” app, with the pro version unlocking unlimited recordings and sharing capabilities.


Multiple ways to record

Users can record in multiple ways – while holding their phone by simply tapping the record button, by rotating their phone on the table with the screen visible, or on the table with the screen darkened. The flexible UI accommodates each.

Beautiful sound wave visualizations

The UI provides a beautiful and minimal experience while simultaneously providing accurate feedback to users about their recording.

Turntape started out as just a simple experimentation platform. But with 55K users and counting, who knows where this experiment will end up.