Otter vs. Fireflies

One of the best use cases for AI that I’ve come across are the AI notetakers, such as Otter.ai and Fireflies.ai. These tools can connect automatically to your meetings and collect recordings and/or transcripts of the discussion. They also analyze the discussion for sentiment analysis, % of time for each speaker, and action items. In some cases, extra options are available, including integrations with other tools and automatic screenshots when someone shares their screen.

These provide both a backup of meetings (including the often-important documentation of who said what and when), and also serve as a notetaker. The latter frees everyone to focus more on connection and following the conversation. These perks make them a compelling investment for many companies (and individuals!).

I was an early subscriber to these tools, so I have had a full year subscribed to Otter.ai and I’m now nearly 4 months into my subscription with Fireflies.

I was an early subscriber to these tools, so I have had a full year subscribed to Otter.ai and I’m now nearly 4 months into my subscription with Fireflies. As such, I’ve had quite a few colleagues and clients ask me about the comparative benefits of these tools, most notably the biggest contenders, Otter.ai and Fireflies.ai. In this post, I’m not going to break down every aspect of the two (a comparison table is included below), but I will highlight the differences between them and some of the things to look out for.

Privacy & Sharing

Let’s start with when these AI tools join your meetings and how you’ll know.

Both tools make it clear that it is YOUR choice to have these in your meetings. No bot will join a meeting unless invited or added via the settings. But they also leave a lot of options up to the user.

Both tools have the ability to auto-join all meetings on your calendar that include a video link. Note that this means it’s possible for your AI notetaker to join meetings that you miss.

Both tools also have a separate settings to choose,

  1. whether or not to alert users that an AI tool will be joining the meeting, and
  2. whether or not to share access to the notes after the meeting.

Keep in mind that as an owner of a meeting you always have the ability to eject any participant – including an AI bot – from a meeting. If you do so in the first 3 minutes, Fireflies says it will not process any recording. Otter, on the other hand, has live transcription (which can be a tremendous help) so it would appear it is processing the conversation from the start.

Both tools have settings to auto-join all meetings with a video link. This means it’s possible for your AI notetaker to join meetings that you miss.

My recommendations here would be to let people know you’re planning to record ahead of time. That can be done via an automated email, or through other communication with your participants (which may mitigate the amount of email you’re generating). Note that some meetings, like those with your lawyer or financial advisor, should likely not be transcribed. It’s also a great practice to share your notes, however I would prefer other ways of doing that than sending yet more email.

Integrations

I was a happy Otter.ai user for my initial annual subscription and there was ultimately only one reason I switched to Fireflies: integrations.

Past the initial phase of wonder at the functionality of these tools you will likely find yourself wanting to use the data more. After all, this is a lot of important information at your fingertips, so the tempatation to make it do more for you is acute.

For example, I wanted the action items generated by Otter to be sent directly to my task management tool. But when I went to set this up, I found that the option was restricted to teams with 10+ licenses. There’s also no API setup option or instructions I could find, nor is there any third-party connection available through Zapier, Make, or similar tools. The closest you could get is to send action items to Slack, and from there to your task tool of choice.

Experience matters. You may want to consider going for a monthly subscription for both tools to try them out before committing to an annual purchase.

It was this that ultimately made me switch from Otter to Fireflies earlier this year. And while I was able to complete the integration, the tool isn’t sophisticated enough to drop action items onto the “right” list, meaning I get a single “intake” to do list that I then need to parse through.

Much more concerning is that the action items that get generated are often incomplete (“Begin immediate testing.”), didn’t get created correctly (“The statement is too vague. Can you please provide more specific information for me to assess?”), and/or have excess formatting (“**Task Evaluation: “Review McFarland**'”). All this combines to make the feature limited – at best.

Your Needs

Finally, the ultimate decider for the tool should be a comparison of what you need, and I encourage you to look at the table below for this information.

That said, the experience also matters. Otter and Fireflies both have mobile apps that allow you to record a meeting in-person, but they differ significantly in how they handle that recording. If that’s an important feature for you, you may want to start with a monthly subscription and try out both tools for a short time.

FeatureFireflies.ai ProOtter.ai Pro
Pricing$10/month per user (billed annually) or $18/month per user (billed monthly)$8.33/month per user (billed annually) or $16.99/month per user (billed monthly)
MinutesUnlimited minutes/month1,200 minutes/month
Slide CaptureBusiness version onlyIncluded
PlaybackPlayback speeds: 1x, 1.25x, 1.5x, 1.75x, 2xPlayback speeds: 0.5x, 0.75x, 1x, 1.25x, 1.5x, 1.75x, 2x, 3x, skip silence
History/Storage8,000 minutesUnlimited
CollaborationTeam workspaces, commenting & reactions, public/private channelsTeam collaboration, shared folders, export options
AI FeaturesAI summaries, smart search, sentiment analysis, topic trackingAI-powered highlights, smart search, speaker identification
IntegrationsBrowser extensions, calendar tools, CRM tools, Zapier, Slack; limited API accessBrowser extensions, calendar tools, others only at 10+ licenses
Mobile AppAvailableAvailable
Security & PrivacySOC 2 Type 2 & GDPR compliant
Read more
SOC 2 Type 2 & GDPR compliant
Read more

Final Thoughts

As I’ve said, I’m currently a Fireflies users, however once this annual subscription is over I will likely be switching back to Otter. While I like the ability to drop action items into my task manager, it doesn’t perform well enough to offset the other functionality I miss. For me, easier in-person transcription, automated slide capture, and live transcription were big bonuses. I also generally prefer the Otter UX, though your preferences may vary and this could well be related to the fact that I used Otter first.

I will also say, you should do your own due diligence! This post is bound to age like vinegar since it’s about AI and tech. The features and price points of these tools are likely to change, so be sure to double-check these stats.

Thanks for reading! Are you using these tools? Do you have insights to share? Reach out and let me know!

Marit Plus

Fractional digital leadership for your organization.