PicPlayPost for iOS review: Finally, a photo-framing app that stands out

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The Good PicPlayPost offers video integration in an otherwise photo-only app-frame landscape, complete with sequential and simultaneous playback along with other unique features.

The Bad No iCloud support for saving or transferring projects between devices.

The Bottom Line This app is a fun way to stand out on Instagram or Vine, but even if you're not into sharing personal photos on a network, it's perfect for creating family memories to share via iMessage and e-mail.


8.0 Overall
  • Setup 7
  • Features 8
  • Interface 8
  • Performance 8

PicPlayPost isn't new to the App Store; however, its sudden success is. It's been around since 2012, but only recently made it to the top paid-app spot in the App Store.

Photo framing apps are nothing new and there are a slew of them in the App Store. Each one allows you to place photos in combinations of frames, aspect ratios, frame colors, and sizes to make a kind of collage. But what's interesting about an app like PicPlayPost is that it goes beyond the standard frames and filters, and lets you incorporate videos into your creations. It's an interesting twist, and may be the reason behind the app's recent high ranking after Instagram Video and Vine took off.

Jump right in
With similar framing apps having been around and popular in the App Store for some time now, the developer has made the assumption that users will understand and know how to use the app from the start. It's a safe assumption and the app definitely handles the first launch by a new user better than older versions of PicPlayPost did. In the past, first-time users were greeted with an eight-slide tutorial covering how to use the app. Talk about scaring off those who are already weary of using new apps.

Now the tutorial is gone, with the only remnant being a help document found in the Settings section of the app. So while you might start off a bit confused, if anything gets too complex, there's always a place to find more information.

Thinking outside the box
PicPlayPost offers one app for all iOS devices running iOS 5.1 and up. iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch users will find the same layout and workflow no matter what device they access the app from, though it looks far more refined, visually, on iOS 7.

Being able to include multiple videos in an arrangement similar to a collage is a new idea to me. I had always viewed frame apps as a creative way to display photos -- not videos. And with apps such as Vine and Instagram giving people a platform for showing off short videos, there's a big demand for ways to make your videos stand out from the others in either service.

You can use PicPlayPost in either landscape or portrait. Screenshot by Jason Cipriani/CNET

PicPlayPost follows the same pattern found in most photo collage apps. Users can select a ratio or frame layout, add photos, resize the separate frames, change the thickness and color of borders, and so on; there's nothing new or groundbreaking about the app in this regard.

Tapping on a section will bring up your Camera Roll, allowing you to insert a photo or video. After arranging a photo in the cell you can zoom in or out, rotate it, and position the picture for optimal viewing using familiar gestures such as pinch-to-zoom. Or if you prefer, you can use the toolbar included in the app to adjust a photo.

There are a total of 36 different frame layouts, with a possible six different aspect ratios, all of which include anywhere from one to six different sections in which to place content. Each creation is limited to six videos on iOS 7, or four on previous versions of iOS.

As far as photos go, you're able to add filters, rotate, and flip horizontally or vertically. You can apply the same filters and alignment features to videos, and there's a built-in video-trimming option to keep the videos under 10 minutes each (iOS 7-only).

While the app does support all iOS devices, it doesn't support iCloud syncing of projects. This is one area where I would love to see some improvement, so you could, for example, sync a project started on an iPhone with an iPad so you can finish editing and laying out a collage on the larger screen.