You probably are here because you are evaluating Otter or Fireflies to transcribe your meetings or audio recordings. First of all, kudos to you for wanting to make your meetings and recordings actionable. You’re doing the right thing by looking for ways to automate the process and improve your productivity.
Taking shorthand notes or relying on your memory to jot down the minutes of a meeting is labor-intensive, and also distracts you from actively participating in the conversation. And that’s where automated transcription tools like Otter and Fireflies come in handy.
Key differences between Otter and Fireflies
Otter.ai is a transcription tool that uses artificial intelligence to generate transcriptions for meetings, interviews, lectures, and other important voice conversations.
Fireflies, on the other hand, is an AI assistant for meetings that record, transcribe, and offer search capabilities across your voice conversations.
While both these tools offer transcriptions, it’s possible that you are wondering:
- Why is Fireflies an AI-based meeting assistant and not classified as a transcription tool like Otter?
- What’s the difference between a transcription tool and a meeting assistant?
- Which one is objectively better?
If you're also wondering about these questions and feeling confused—you're not alone. That's why we have written this article to help you get answers to those questions and get clarity to decide which tool is the best fit for your needs.
How is a meeting transcription tool different from a meeting assistant?
For a casual observer, it might not seem like there is much difference between a transcription tool and a meeting assistant. However, there are several aspects that can make a world of difference to your everyday use cases.
What is a meeting transcription tool and Otter's evolution in this category
A transcription tool is typically AI-powered and uses automated speech and language technology to record and transcribe spoken conversations into written texts.
A transcription tool offers the following advantages:
- Saves time from manually transcribing meeting notes
- Offers a convenient and cost-effective way to convert audio into text
- The transcripts are scalable compared to doing it manually
- Helps you focus on the meeting conversations actively instead of shifting focus between taking notes and conversing
- Helps easy recall and review
Otter.ai began as a pure play voice notes app but unlike other transcription tools that charges you for transcription by the minute, Otter has evolved to include some level of collaboration. It offers collaborative features like conversation summaries, editable texts, real-time annotations, and advanced search capabilities.
What is a meeting assistant tool?
Meeting assistants definitely offer way more than transcription apps because they help you with many other aspects before, during, and after a meeting. For instance, Avoma also allows you to build meeting agenda templates that get automatically assigned to your meetings (based on your meeting purpose) before your meeting starts.
Here are some advantages that a meeting assistant software offers:
- Eliminates the need for additional third-party meeting transcription services
- Helps save at least 40% of your time before and after the meetings
- Creates meeting highlights, action items, and meeting summaries to easily refer back to key points and follow-up activities
- Eliminates biases in meeting notes and summary
- Boosts individual and team productivity and improves the overall meeting experience
Founded in the same year (2016) as Otter.ai, Fireflies is positioned as a meeting assistant for businesses and teams, and not for individuals. Fireflies records, transcribes, and lets you search your meetings (though audio only as of now). It offers integrations with your Dialers, CRMs, and collaboration tools such as Slack to offer meeting assistance before and after your meetings.
Now that we have scratched the surface of the differences between Otter and Fireflies, let’s look at which one suits your use case.
How to choose between Otter and Fireflies?
Key factors to consider
1. Product functionality
When you are evaluating between products, one of the first things to look for is how comprehensive and comparable their functionalities are.
Some questions to consider:
- How do they stack up in terms of product functionality and features?
- Does it cater to your specific requirements?
- Are they well integrated with other software you use in your organization?
- Do they support native integration or third-party API connectors?
- How responsive is their product support?
Pricing is another key aspect to consider (though not the most important one) when you are evaluating a tool for your long-term use. The point is you want to buy an affordable solution, that also is the best of breed.
Some questions to consider:
- Does it offer a free trial or freemium plans?
- Does it have flexible, cost-effective monthly, half-yearly, and annual plans?
- Do the pricing tiers make sense for your use cases and organization size?
- Are there any additional or hidden costs?
Buying a software is a future-oriented action—you almost always have to consider its usage and effectiveness for the days to come. While today a specific solution might serve your current needs, you always need to think and evaluate the tool based on how it might fit into your future business needs.
Some questions to consider:
- What are your current and probable future use cases? Does the tool accommodate them all?
- Will this tool scale to other functions in the organizations if the need arises for the Product, Marketing or Recruiting teams to record and transcribe their meetings?
- How costly are their plans when you add new users to your team?
Now let’s compare Otter and Fireflies point-by-point.
Evaluating Otter and Fireflies: A step-by-step comparison
The TL;DR version
So, should you go for Otter or Fireflies? The answer to that question is another question—what exactly is your use case? For instance, if your needs are very specific to transcribing meeting notes, you might not need a lot of features around team collaboration.
But you would need more than just transcripts if you work closely with others in a team, want them to review meeting notes, or want specific action items recommended after each meeting. In order words, you would need a meeting assistant tool like Fireflies.
1. Product functionality
Otter does a great job of transcribing audio from meetings accurately into written texts. No matter if you are dictating or transcribing your audio files through Otter.ai’s mobile app or on a laptop without a mic—Otter identifies different speakers clearly.
The few errors seen during the real-time transcription is when multiple speakers speak at once, which—honestly—is an error expected of all apps and humans. You can also play the recordings at different playback speeds, edit the transcription for accuracy, or save the transcription to your organization’s storage drive.
Fireflies too is fairly simple to get started with. Once you set up your account with Fireflies, you have to invite Fireflies to attend your meetings. When a meeting commences, Fred (the AI bot) starts recording the meeting and emails you the meeting recap (i.e., the full transcript) to the meeting participants.
Of course, you can change the settings in Fireflies to either skip calendar events that you don’t own or allow Fred to email the meeting recap to everyone.
Once inside the Fireflies dashboard, you can find all your transcripts under the Notebook menu. You can download or share the transcripts, invite your colleagues to add comments, create soundbites, and playback the audio meeting at different speeds.
Although transcribing isn’t its only feature, Fireflies transcription quality is pretty decent. Similar to Otter.ai, Fireflies also transcribes audio files that you upload to it.
Fireflies offers nice add-on features like the ability to search across your transcripts, create topic trackers, filter your notes by keywords or sentiments. The app makes it easier for you to collaborate with others by allowing you to invite people from within or outside your organization.
Going by the product functionality, Otter.ai and Fireflies.ai are horses for the courses. While Otter’s strength lies in close-to-accurate transcriptions, Fireflies takes it a step further by offering post-meeting recaps and other collaboration-friendly features.
Both Otter and Fireflies lack some features that are table stakes when you need to collaborate cross-functionally and have an internal workflow to support it.
Here are a few of them:
a. Summarized notes
Fireflies and Otter give you full transcripts, but they don’t offer a quick, one page meeting summary along with the transcripts.
Otter.ai offers a functionality called Highlight Summaries but that’s generated when you manually highlight certain parts of a conversation and add them as part of your summary. It’s similar to highlighting texts in Kindle ebooks.
Summarized notes, on the other hand—is an automated one-page overview of the entire conversation that captures the key points discussed and the next steps.
Here’s an example from Avoma’s meeting summary where the AI assistant automatically summarizes your meetings or calls and breaks them into categories such as Pain Points, Objections, Next Steps, etc.
Further, by experience we all know that no transcription is going to be 100% perfect. This is where Avoma solves the problem better than Otter and Fireflies by allowing you to take notes manually in addition to the AI-notes it takes anyway.
b. Conversation intelligence
Meetings can be pointless if they don’t offer you coherent outcomes. While Fireflies and Otter are great to record and transcribe meetings, they don’t offer you the analysis and intelligence that can help you make the most of your meetings.
Conversation intelligence is also important when it comes to coaching and accelerating the learning from internal and customer-facing conversations.
c. Deal intelligence
Tools like Fireflies.ai and Otter.ai are far from offering deal intelligence capabilities because of their deep focus on capturing and transcribing meeting notes. If you want to learn from your meetings and conversations and optimize your RevOps, you need Deal Intelligence.
Deal intelligence helps you optimize your revenue operations, improve transparency and accountability across all teams, close the communication gap between them, align all your business metrics for the common good, and maximize customer value.
Pricing-wise, both Otter and Fireflies offer cost-effective subscription plans. They both offer forever-free plans with limited capabilities and go on to offer custom pricing for large enterprises. Otter.ai’s paid plans start at $8.33/user/month while the team plan is priced at $20/user/month.
Fireflies' Pro plan is priced at $10/user/month while its Business plan comes at $19/user/month. Like the majority of all SaaS businesses, their price is higher for both tools if you are on a month-on-month subscription.
It’s tough to conclude which one is better when it comes to pricing, although Fireflies.ai offers a better payoff for the kind of features it packs in this price range.
Typically, as your meeting and collaboration requirements mature, you end up buying more apps which will inflate your overall spend. Both Otter and Fireflies might not scale with your growing requirements as they offer niche features for very specific meeting assistance use cases only.
Here’s what an end-to-end meeting solution like Avoma offers:
Meeting assistant to automatically record and transcribe meetings and get AI-generated summary notes
Meeting management to help you prepare agenda, collaborate on note-taking, and sync notes to calendar events.
Meeting collaboration to help you search across transcripts, share key moments, and comment to collaborate faster
Meeting intelligence to learn topic trends, talk-patterns of top performers, and get coaching insights
Also Avoma’s flexible pricing lets you choose a subscription plan that’s more suitable for your current and future use cases. For example, if your use case is limited to the need of a meeting assistant, you can start with Avoma’s Starter plan priced at $15/user/month.
You can upgrade to the Plus plan at $35/user/month or the complete Business plan at $70 when your needs and workflow scale up.
Fireflies and Otter are both great at what they do—transcribing and recording calls and meetings. If your long-term needs are limited to transcribing meetings and leveraging these transcripts for different purposes, then both of them offer good solutions.
For example, you can use Otter or Fireflies to turn simple audio conversations into text, record your brain dump sessions for future access, or repurpose podcast recordings or call recordings into blog posts.
Both of these apps have limitations when it comes to use cases outside of transcription and recording. As your meeting requirements grow, they might not scale with your growing needs. For example, Otter and Fireflies don’t offer insights from your meetings that your cross-functional teams such as product teams, sales teams or customer success teams can leverage.
If you are a rapidly growing SaaS company that depends on making the most out of your internal and external meetings, it’s not enough to just convert audio meetings into text files. You would need powerful conversation intelligence and revenue intelligence capabilities to run sales postmortems, deep-dive into user research interviews, and to identify churn signals.
Both Otter and Fireflies are great tools in their individual capacity. The quality of customer reviews and ratings that Otter.ai has across software comparison websites is a testimony to how good they are. Although Fireflies.ai doesn’t have as many public reviews, most experts have good things to say about the app. With customers like Uber, Nike, and Intuit using Fireflies.ai, it’s clear that it’s an equally good contender to Otter.ai.
So, what’s the final verdict? Which one should you choose?
- If you are an individual or a small team looking to get transcripts for your meetings and conversations, go with Otter.
- If you want voice-to-text transcripts along with other features like better integration, search capabilities within your notes, and keyword filters—Fireflies.ai is a good bet.
- If you want a tool that goes beyond transcripts, scales across cross-functional use cases, and offers flexibility in pricing—then go for Avoma.