SonicPics allows you to select photos from your photo library on your iPod Touch or iPhone, arrange them in a viewing order, and then narrate a voiceover in time to you swiping through the images. You then have a small, but robust range of options on how you share that slideshow from your device: As an iTunes Video File (M4V) to your computer, a YouTube upload, or send it via email.
The app starts up quickly and it’s immediately clear what you need to do as it presents an empty “Projects” view.
When you create a new project it displays your main workspace which offers you the opportunity to provide a title and a description for your slideshow.
Immediately below those options is a small button to add images from your photo library. Imported images are arranged on a thin horizontal scrolling band, rather like thumbnails in a movie editor’s timeline. This sits in the middle of the screen.
Underneath all of that are large clear buttons which allow you to select your preference for audio quality for your voiceover, and a big red record button which is self explanatory.
When you choose to add a picture the app uses the standard iPhone OS user interface for selecting images from your photo library, which works just fine. It can get a bit repetitive going back and forth adding more than a few pictures one by one, but this is a limitation of Apple’s implementation rather than a fault of SonicPics.
Once a bunch of pictures are in your project it is possible to touch any picture on the app’s timeline, slide it out and along said timeline either way, and then insert it somewhere else. Something which in some ways makes up nicely for the initially repetitive method you have to use to get pictures into your slideshow. i.e. People like me who don’t plan ahead can get themselves out of trouble without having to resort to removing and re-importing images in the order they really wanted. A nice touch. You can also add a title and description to any picture in a project, and remove images that you no longer want.
Once you’ve got your pictures into the project, and in the order you want, it’s time to record your voice over. This is done either via the built in mic on an iPhone, or using a microphone connected to your iPod. The App will remind you that you need to plug a microphone in at that stage if it doesn’t detect one. I was able to use my headphones as a makeshift mic and still get quite good quality voice recording on my iPod.
Once you hit the big red record button, narrating your masterpiece is relatively straight forward. Popup dialogs tell you what to do, and you can start, pause and re-start recording at will as you check back and forth with your notes, or take a few moments to collect your thoughts as you swipe through the pictures. You are restricted to recording in a left to right order as you progress through the pictures. Well, actually you are not, but if you double back or try to record audio to your pictures in a random order and assume the App will keep track of where you were in the time line, then you’ll be disappointed.
You can have multiple recordings per project, and multiple projects with different sets of pictures, all in various stages of completion within the App.
Once you’ve finished recording your voiceover you can save it and this brings up a view which summarises the length and memory usage of this run through. You can then choose to play it back on your device or share it..
Sharing entails creating a video, which again summarises the memory that will be required and how much free space you have left on your iPod or iPhone. Video creation is quick, and you then have the option to send the video to your computer, YouTube or email it. Sharing to your computer is particularly easy over a WiFi network. SonicPics details an IP address you can enter directly into your browser on your main machine, which brings up a SonicPics splash screen, image of your video’s first frame and a download link to click. Simple.
YouTube and email sharing is equally easy. You sign into YouTube, or create an email from the app, and upload / send the movie.
SonicPics does “exactly what it says on the box”, and the user interface is intuitive. In some ways it reminds me of early versions of Apple iLife Apps, in that it is competent but lacks some flare. It would be nice, for example, to see some options for crossfade or other effects when you transition between images. Playback of a slideshow on the device has to be done with the controls visible, although I assume you could sync a video back to the device from iTunes after exporting it, and play it back that way. But this limits your ability to be truly independent of your desktop or email when making a presentation “in the field”. Also, both the UI and playback is fixed in portrait view all of the time.
The SonicPics’ team have put a lot of work into their website’s instructional info, and also have a lot of demo slideshows there. They have also updated the App already with a number of features that earlier versions didn’t have. So it seems that they are going to support their product, and hopefully some of that support will come by way of expanded functionality in later versions for perhaps features such as more export options, some transition effects, and location awareness.
Overall though SonicPics is a neat little utility that I will keep on my iPhone and can see myself using when out and about to produce voice annotated presentations, or slideshows for family and friends from a day out.
- Easy to use & immediately clear how the App works.
- Ability to slide images around on time line to change order.
- Sharing to computer produces nice quality videos, quickly and easily.
- Can pause recording while making a voiceover.
The Not So Good
- Portrait only.
- Recording must be done in a left to right flow, or picture / audio synching can get confused.
- Adding a project, and not entering any data creates another empty project. It could simply discard it to save clutter.
- Image timeline scrolls to end of images each time you return to overview of project.
Reviewed By: Stephen Northcott
Make your show on the road!
Price: $2.99 (iTunes Store)
Updated Feb 05, 2010
Reviewed Version: 1.1.0
Size: 0.8 MB
Seller: Humble Daisy, Inc
© 2009, Humble Daisy, Inc
Requirements: Compatible with iPhone and iPod touch (2nd generation). Requires iPhone OS 3.0 or later.