Review: SoundSpectrum Fotomatic
On August 8, 2008, we reviewed a collection of eight different Flickr applications for the iPhone and iPod touch in a roundup entitled iPhone Gems: Every Flickr Application, Reviewed. This review contains a review of one application from that roundup; additional comparative details can be found in the original full story.
Yahoo!‘s Flickr service is the top photo-sharing site online; its large userbase, friendly, clean interface, and open API have allowed it to grow to storing over 2 billion photos, and developers have created iPhone and iPod touch apps that work directly with the service. Note up front that all of the apps share two common limitations: iPhone OS 2.0 currently limits uploads of previously stored-in-iPhone or -iPod photographs to a maximum resolution of 640x480, with in-application camera functionality available as a workaround. Additionally, in order to show a preview but maintain a full-resolution image, the preview image shown after taking a photo with an in-application camera is normally cropped in one manner or another. Again, all of the apps are affected by these limits; it’s only a question of whether the developers find smart ways around them.
Fotomatic is a visually impressive slideshow application that lets users view albums or photostreams from Facebook, Flickr, and Picasa. Albums are added through the app’s Setup menu, which also shows the current download status, offers further Slideshow settings, allows for album changing, and allows the user to set the maximum number of photos (25-100) to appear in an album. In the Slideshow settings, users can select the theme, set the duration of time (3 to 20 seconds) to show each photo, and use a toggle switch to turn the shuffling of photos on and off. Adding albums is a fairly straightforward process, with the app giving you the choice of loading any Flickr user’s entire photostream, or just a particular set of photos.
The app’s main screen, when not obscured by an annoying splash overlay that appears every time you start up Fotomatic, shows photos from the currently selected album in a thumbnail view, similar to the iPhone’s own Photos app. At the bottom of the screen are a play button, which starts the slideshow, a gear icon that opens the Settings menu, and a book icon, which opens a scrolling list of albums you’ve downloaded. Interestingly, the app actually does download the albums you select, allowing you to view them even when a network connection is not available.
Once a slideshow has begun, the bottom menu shows the same gear icon, followed by play/pause controls, an “x” icon to exit the slideshow, and a film icon, which brings up a scrollable list of available slide effects and transitions. The effects range from pedestrian to truly impressive; the more exciting ones could serve as a nice demonstration of the iPhone OS’s Core Animation features. Unfortunately, that’s all it does. As pretty as Fotomatic may be, its core functionality is extremely limited, especially for an application priced at $5. What could have been an exciting feature in a more robust browsing app ends up feeling too much like a tech demo, which is sad given the developers’ obvious ability.