Voice chat and photo slide shows. VoiceThread does both.
Josh LowensohnFormer Senior Writer
Josh Lowensohn joined CNET in 2006 and now covers Apple. Before that, Josh wrote about everything from new Web start-ups, to remote-controlled robots that watch your house. Prior to joining CNET, Josh covered breaking video game news, as well as reviewing game software. His current console favorite is the Xbox 360.
VoiceThread is a photo sharing tool that launched earlier this month. It lets users upload photos from their hard drive or Flickr, and add voice and text annotations to each slide. These 'VoiceBooks' can be embedded in blogs, Web sites, or MySpaceprofiles. Other users can comment on each slide, with up to 28 comments per picture. The service is selling itself as a voice forum tool.
The VoiceBook creation process is handled entirely within one window, without the need to refresh or hop pages. It's pretty user-friendly, and adding photos is incredibly easy. In just a few minutes, I had managed to put together a small slide show of photos, using the 'import from Flickr' feature.
One really neat feature is the painting tool, which lets you do on-screen writing (like football commentators on TV) to match your voice narration. This is especially helpful if you want to highlight a detail or two on a complex photo. You can also pick the brush color, although to nitpick, you can't select it until you've started your voice recording. Users can also circle and doodle on your image with their personal narration.
Also neat is the photo navigation, which feels a little bit like OS X's Expose. Clicking the thumbnail button will zoom out and show you all the photos in the set. Clicking on any of them will zoom in again. Once you're viewing a photo, you can simply click it to zoom in. It's very intuitive.
ChinSwing (previous coverage) experimented with the idea of audio message boards. For all intents and purposes, quality comments to a photo can really enhance the viewing experience. On the other hand, you're likely to hear something you don't like, or come across some heavy mic breathers while browsing other people's work.