Review: iPad Portfolio Apps
By Joan Sherwood, Senior Editor
Images ©Cheryl Pearson
This supplement includes additional interface illustrations along with the iPad portfolio app review published in the November 2010 issue of Professional Photographer magazine.
The clear, gorgeous display screen of the Apple iPad makes it an ideal mobile presentation device for photographers—it can really draw a crowd. The iPad’s native Photos app, though, with only a simple slideshow function, doesn’t offer much for professional branding, utility and customization.
The iPad was released in April, so apps designed for it are relatively new as well. Because new apps tend to be updated frequently, we contacted the developers of the four reviewed here to get the scoop on what features to expect in upgrades planned for release before November.
With all four, you have to add images one at a time from a photo picker to the app’s library; a tap on the thumbnail loads the image. The current iPad OS doesn’t support a select-all function to import a folder of images from your iPad photo albums. The new iOS4 might have improvements, but it will be awhile before it’s available for iPad. The iPad also has a RAM fragmentation problem. If you’ve been using it with lots of different apps, any crashes you get are likely due to the iPad, not one of these apps. Just restart.
It’s best to downsize your photos before transferring them to the iPad. Syncing a folder of full-res photos takes its own sweet time, and large images will likely clog the system’s memory anyway. Find out if your portfolio app has a recommended image resolution; you’ll probably be safe with 1,024 pixels on the long side.
Flexfolios v 1.33 has a simple interface and a helpful reference manual accessible from the home menu. The app can be used to transfer documents between iPad and computer (music, video, pdfs, text files). You can “associate” one or more of these files with any image in your portfolio, but, for instance, you cannot play a single music file while you display a slideshow.
You can touch-and-drag up to 36 images in each portfolio. The most efficient way to build a portfolio is bottom-up, so start with the images you want to appear last. As you build, you’ll see only four images at a time; the rest are pushed offscreen to the right. To rearrange images, move them back to the picture library, slide the portfolio images to the new insertion spot, then move the image back in. You could also move the four images in view. Reordering images in the picture library is easy.
There’s currently no auto-play slideshow option; instead, you advance the images by swiping left or right. You can select a background color or custom image. You can choose to view vertical images side-by-side when they’re next to each other in the collection. You can also set up 700x400- pixel e-cards to send out to prospects.
In the works: a slideshow mode and VGA compatibility to connect the iPad to a projector or display.
Price: $9.99. flexfolios.com
Flexfolios Info setup interface
Flexfolios Contact Info and photo card setup interface
Flexfolios gallery edit interface
FolioBook v 1.0.3 has the most unique and completely custom branded home page. Choose a large background image that includes your studio logo, and use the screened bar at the bottom to feature your custom-named galleries. A logo overlay feature is in the works. You can move the location of the gallery names and the bar they appear in. We tried out the beta version of v 1.1, which supports portrait orientation, has no restriction on the number of galleries, gives you a selection of fonts for menu text, and includes other welcome refinements.
Editing the image order is easy; you get a full-screen view of your image slides, and rearrange them via touch-and-drag as if they were on a light table. You can view up to 48 slides at a time, and two-finger scroll down to see the rest. From the gallery, you can select one or multiple images to e-mail to a prospect or client.
This app has the most sophisticated slideshow preferences of the four. You can alter the transition duration, turn auto-play on or off, move the position of play controls, and choose a transition: dissolve, wipe, or Foliobook. In the visually appealing Foliobook transition, the photo displayed enlarges slightly before moving gently off to the left, as if you were picking up a mounted print and moving it to the other side of a case. You can advance or move back in the gallery with a finger swipe in any transition mode, whether auto-play is on or off. The developer expects the version 1.2 upgrade to include different layouts and themes and a lockdown mode to keep clients from accessing the editing tools.
Price: $7.99. foliobook.mobi
Foliobook home menu interface
Foliobook home edit interface
Foliobook gallery naming and preferences
Foliobook slideshow preferences interface
Foliobook image gallery edit interface
Padfolios v 1.2 has the most restrictive design overall. The home page displays 10 set folio positions, and the first image you add to any folio becomes the cover image. You cannot edit the frame position for the cover image. To hide empty folios, you must turn off the borders in the settings menu. You can populate any folio position in any order. You can rewrite the text in the middle of the home page, but you can’t change the font.
You access the folio settings from the home page by touching the i icon at the lower right. That’s where you turn on or off the borders and rounded corners, set the border width for the home page and galleries, and rearrange the image order. Viewers scroll through the gallery of business-card-size images, tap to see a large version, tap again to minimize, then tap the next image to see a large view. There’s no way to go directly from one large view to the next, and no slideshow function.
Future versions are slated to have include portrait orientation, iPad-to-VGA support, pinch to zoom, comment capability, and a slideshow option.
Padfolios 2.0 now available. Price: $14.99.
PadFolio home interface with rounded frames and empty galleries visible
PadFolio home interface with square frames, custom name and empty galleries hidden
PadFolio main editing interface
PadFolio folio view
PadFolio large image view
PadFolio photo picker interface
PadFolio folio edit interface
Portfolio v1.4 has many features the others don’t. At press time, it was the only app to support music with slideshows, zooming, side-by-side comparison of any two images, keywording, VGA support, and adding photos from Dropbox (dropbox.com).
Dropbox is an innovative solution to the lack of select-all capability inherent to iPad’s photo-import structure, although the transfer via 3G or Wi-Fi through Dropbox (limited to 100 kbps) gives you enough time to walk away from the device and do something else. The built-in help menu is extremely useful.
Portfolio renames images imported from your iPad library with four random letters, but you can automatically rename them with sequential numbers, or rename each file individually. Dropbox imports retain file names. The file names are visible only in the basic viewer and editing interfaces. Rearranging images is a simple drag function with 49 images visible at a time.
In the basic viewer, you can double-tap a thumbnail to display it alongside the current photo. Double-tap a large image to zoom in and out with pinch gestures. The maximum photo size is 2,048x2,048, a limit imposed by iPad memory.
Easy to set up, the slideshow music function will run in autoplay mode, but not if you want to advance with swipes. Keep in mind that without headphones or external speakers, sound from an iPad is not all that.
Keywording will be a great feature for some users. You can assign keywords in your IPTC data before you import the images, or from the Portfolio interface. Tap the name of the gallery to see what keywords are available to filter the images in it. Imagine a large gallery of weddings keyworded with terms like the vendor, venue, bride, place setting, groom, groomsmen, kiss. You can also assign ratings and notes to each image.
With an Apple iPad Dock Connector to VGA Adaptor ($29), you can show a presentation from a display or projector. We tried it with an Apple Component AV Cable ($49) on an older HD television and it worked fine, but not all of the images looked good after being sized down for the iPad.
Slideshow and swipe transitions are a bit fast for wedding and portrait display. You can set the amount of time for a slide to be displayed, but not the duration of the transitions.
You can also include video clips with sound in-line with your slideshows, but the clip doesn’t start automatically. You can set the clip’s start and end time, and select the still frame that represents it. These settings do not affect the file itself.
Price: $14.99. ipadportfolioapp.com
Portfolio gallery home interface
Portfolio basic viewer
Portfolio slideshow view
Portfolio gallery editing interface
Portfolio music selection interface