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Shadow Puppet for iOS review: Quick slideshows with audio have never been so easy

There are already professional presentation apps like PowerPoint and Keynote that are great for the big meeting, but this app focuses on quick, fun slideshows with audio anyone can make.

Jason Parker
Jason Parker Senior Editor / Reviews - Software
Jason Parker has been at CNET for nearly 15 years. He is the senior editor in charge of iOS software and has become an expert reviewer of the software that runs on each new Apple device. He now spends most of his time covering Apple iOS releases and third-party apps.
4 min read

Shadow Puppet is an app that helps you make presentation videos with text and graphics, but is simple enough for kids to get in on the fun.


Shadow Puppet for iOS

The Good

Shadow Puppet makes quick presentations easy with an intuitive process that just about anyone can use. The ability to flip pages at your own speed while recording your voice is convenient and smart.

The Bad

Text animations are buggy at certain font sizes. The selection tools for fonts, text color, and alignment can be frustrating.

The Bottom Line

With a simple process that's incredibly easy to follow, Shadow Puppet is a must-have for quick slideshows with audio.

Whether you're sending a friend a slideshow of your vacation with voice-over descriptions, or your son is explaining his latest Lego creation, Shadow Puppet's step-by-step process is extremely easy to follow.

There have been a number of simplified presentation apps to hit the App Store, with one I reviewed recently called Adobe Voice . But Shadow Puppet is even easier to use letting just about anyone create quick and dirty slide presentations using photos or video.

Shadow Puppet makes presentations a snap (pictures)

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Creating your own project

The best way to learn what Shadow Puppet does is to watch the brief demo videos on the home screen. Here you'll see examples of people using the app to record a trip to a San Francisco landmark, a birthday slideshow for a friend, and even a kid's video showing off things he made.

All of these were done by choosing photos or video, recording voice-overs while flipping through the slideshow, and adding a musical backdrop.

In addition to the basic slideshow options, you can also add text overlays and draw onscreen in real time as you record. Text can be added for each slide before you start recording and you have a few font selections as well as simple animations that zoom in on the text or make the text spin into the slide. You can also choose the text color and alignment on the slide.

While recording your presentation, you can touch a magic wand icon at the bottom to bring up some drawing tools. You get a few different colors you can drag across the screen for a decorative effect (think fireworks), and there are a couple of icons (a heart and a star), but there are also a bunch of icons that are locked.

To get these additional tools, you'll need to do an in-app purchase for $1.99/£1.49/$2.49 AUD. I suppose regular users of the app will want to pony up the cash, but these items aren't very useful beyond providing a little extra color.

Presentation tools for personal use

In my review of Adobe Voice, I noted that the app could be used for simple business presentations. In other words, when a more professional app is out of the question (like PowerPoint or Keynote) Adobe Voice has just enough features to make a quick presentation you wouldn't mind showing a business associate in a pinch.

With Shadow Puppet, you get a more casual experience. This set of tools is meant to be easy enough to use that a child could create his own slideshow with voice in just a few easy steps. As such, this app seems to be more geared toward projects for friends and family. You might send a Shadow Puppet video to your mom to give her the highlights of your trip to Hawaii, but it's probably not the app to turn to when you're making a business pitch in a meeting.

Tons of sharing options

When you're finished with your slideshow presentation, you have several options for sharing. You can share your work to Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or Instagram, save it to your library, or send via email, iMessage, or WhatsApp Messenger. You also can open it in other apps like iMovie and other video editors.

A couple of issues

Putting together a presentation is a pretty easy process, but the app has a couple of problems you should know about.

While it lets you use text animations as transitions, it took some tinkering before I was able to get them to work smoothly. With a large (default) font size, the fade-in animation looked more like the text just blinked a couple of times. In fact, whether I used the zoom-in, spiral-in, or whichever animation, the text always blinked as it came onscreen. Only later when I resized the font did it start to work as intended.

There's also an interface element here that is annoying. When selecting fonts, font color, or text alignment, you can only touch to advance to the next selection. This means you might accidentally pass by the selection you want, and will have to advance all the way through all the selections to get back to it. It's not a huge problem, but there must be a way to make the process easier.


Shadow Puppet won't replace PowerPoint or Keynote for making professional presentations, but this free app has a simple set of tools that anyone can use for quick-and-dirty "explainer" videos. The process of manually flipping pages while you record your voice couldn't be more intuitive, and it's so easy it could be used for anything from greeting-card-like slideshows to describing (and showing) a recipe to a friend.

With that said, when fonts are left to the default size, the transition animations were a little buggy in my testing. The system for selecting fonts, alignment, and text color could also use some work.

Still, with such a simple process that kids will be able to understand it and just enough tools for fun presentations, Shadow Puppet is a worthwhile download.


Shadow Puppet for iOS

Score Breakdown

Setup 8Features 7Interface 7Performance 9
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