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Touchcast for iPad review: Great features for video pros

With this new free app, you can create videos with onscreen graphics for how-tos, reviews, and just about any subject you like.

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Jason Parker
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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.

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4 min read

TouchCast, for iPad only, brings broadcast quality tools for making video blogs, reviews, how-tos, news broadcasts, and more with a touch-friendly and interactive interface. You also can browse and see what other TouchCasters have made and follow them much like you would on a social network.

TouchCast
8.1

Touchcast for iPad

The Good

<b>TouchCast</b> has great tools for creating your own show, and even lets you bring up interactive content for your audience.

The Bad

The app doesn't let you add music, which makes videos a little dry.

The Bottom Line

As long as you take the time to learn its features, TouchCast has a ton of potential for making great videos.

What sets TouchCast apart from other video creation apps is the ability to add what the developers call vApps (short for video apps), so viewers can interact with the video. So, for example, you might be talking in front of your iPad camera, and next to you could be a photo, your location on a map (via Google), or even a Web page. All of these are touchable by the viewer to bring the content full screen, while the video continues to play in a window. You can even browse a real Web page while the video continues to play. This interactivity gives the app a lot of potential for how-tos and other fun videos, but I'm not sure current TouchCast videos live up to all that potential just yet.

Make Webcasts with interactive content (pictures)

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Exploring other user-made videos
There are two sides to the TouchCast app: a place to browse the latest TouchCasts from other users or the "Touch" side, and a place to create them yourself on the "Cast" side.

On the Touch side, the app lays out videos much like a social network feed. There are buttons across the top to explore user-made videos in the Explore section; check out tutorial and example videos from the TouchCast app developers in the TouchFeed; and a place to store and browse your saved TouchCasts in Bookmarks. You also have a magnifying glass for searching all TouchCasts by term or hashtag.

TouchCast
Browse through featured channels to see what other people are making. Screenshot by Jason Parker/CNET

The Explore section has buttons below to break out content into all videos, trending videos, and user-made channels. As an app that just launched a few days ago, there's a pretty good number of videos to explore, but I expect there to be a lot more selection as more people discover the app. Also, it appears people are still getting acclimated with the app, so don't be discouraged if you see amateurish videos early on.

Creating a TouchCast
On the Cast side of the app you can create your own video, and the app has onscreen tools to make it easy to control the content your audience will see.

You start out by choosing the style of your title (also known as the lower third) just like the fancy graphic you see at the bottom of the screen for a television news cast. The app has a few templates to get you started with news, reviews, sports, and a how-to layout, but you also can create your own. With your basic layout selected, you can enter a title that your audience will see.

You could start recording now for a straight video with a title at the bottom, but here's where TouchCast makes it more interesting. Check your available vApps by touching a button in the lower right. Like I mentioned above, you can add a photo or Google Map location, but you also can add a stock ticker, Google News stories, Flickr images, Web pages, a Twitter feed, and more. You can even put up a poll where you pick the answers so your users can vote. When you're done adding vApps, they'll show up in the lower left of the recording screen, ready to be used in your video.

TouchCast
Use vApps to bring up info boxes onscreen that your audience can tap to get more info. Screenshot by Jason Parker/CNET

Beyond vApps, there are a couple of other tools at your disposal. TouchCast has several video filters you can apply to your video to give it a unique look. It also lets you quickly switch to a Whiteboard so you can draw a diagram onscreen. And when you have a lot to say in your video, you can use a pre-written script and display it in an onscreen teleprompter that your audience will not be able to see.

With this toolset, some creativity, and a bit of practice, people could use TouchCast to make really impressive broadcasts.

TouchCast
Use a teleprompter or just speak freely as you perform your Web cast. Screenshot by Jason Parker/CNET

This app needs some time
When you look at everything you can do, TouchCast has a lot of potential, but -- aside from a couple of gems -- you're not going to find it browsing through the current videos. It's not the fault of the brave people making videos, however; I think it's mostly because the audience is not yet large enough and people are really just trying to learn how to use it. As time wears on, I expect to see more complex videos that take advantage of all this app has to offer, but in the meantime, you might want to get started and learn the tools yourself to start making great videos about hobbies, how-tos, or whatever interests you.

Also, though the app lets you add a few sound effects, there's no musical intro or outros, making the videos seem a little bland. Hopefully this is something that will come in a future update.

Still, if you want to make broadcast quality videos with nothing more than your iPad, TouchCast has all the right tools. It's just going to take some practice.

TouchCast
8.1

Touchcast for iPad

Score Breakdown

Setup 8Features 9Interface 7Performance 8
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