Mosaic makes photo books easy

New details were unveiled today about Mosaic, a new app coming soon to the App Store that makes creating photo books out of your iOS images easy and affordable.

The Mosaic app lets you preview each page of your photo book before you place your order.
Screenshot by Jason Parker/CNET

The Mosaic Team sent me an early copy of the app and I was able to go through the process of creating a photo book, and have the finished product sent to me late last week. Today, the company unveiled the heymosaic Web site, where you can get more information and sign up to receive word when the app launches.

How does the Mosaic app work? It lets you gather up pictures from a vacation, party, barbecue, or other life event, and easily make a coffee table book of photos at a reasonable price. Once ordered, the finished product arrives in four days.

The app lets you tap to select 20 images -- no more and no less. Screenshot by Jason Parker/CNET

We've seen other apps that do something similar, such as postcard-making apps and Apple's own Cards app. But with the capability to gather up a bunch of pictures from an event on your iPhone and easily send a hard copy to a friend for cheap, Mosaic has the potential to be a great way to capture memories for just about anyone.

The app is incredibly easy to use. You simply touch a button that says Create a New Mosaic, then choose your Camera Roll, Photo Stream, or any other shared folder of photos. From there you need to select 20 photos -- no more and no less -- preferably from an event so all the photos fit a theme. As you select photos, a window opens up on the bottom that shows you your selections. If you would like to reorder the images, just touch and hold them as you would apps on the home screen, then touch and slide each photo into the order you want.

When you're finished, the app presents you with a preview of your photo book, with a cut-out front cover that shows your photos in a mosaic on the first page. There's a shuffle button at the top that will change the position of your selected photos on the mosaic. Using swipe gestures, you can flip through the book to look at each image the way it will show up in your hard copy. You have just one customization option here: you can select a black or white background for your photos.

When you're satisfied with the photo order and background, you can touch a Place Order button and enter your information, address where you would like the book sent, and payment information. The service costs $20 plus tax and shipping and will arrive in four days. You'll also receive push notifications for order status changes, such as when it is shipped and out for delivery.

When you're finished, you get a preview of what the cover will look like. Screenshot by Jason Parker/CNET

I was able to order one for free for review purposes and I like the end result, but I think there are ways to make both the app and the book better. In the app, the capability to add captions to photos would be great (with a selection of fonts). Also, it would be better to be able to move photos around within the mosaic for a truly custom cover layout rather than just a shuffle button.

The book itself is made of a hard cardboard cover that feels substantial, but it would be better with a more solid binding. As is, the end result makes for an excellent gift or addition to your coffee table; it just seems like there are little improvements that might make it even better.

Mosaic is a neat idea and I think the service is well worth the $20 for a simple way to make a quick and elegant photo book. Other services I've seen cost more for the product and take longer to deliver, and you simply can't beat the convenience of this easy-to-use app.

The Mosaic app is coming soon to the App store, and from what I've seen I think it will be a big hit.