Newly launched at SXSW this week is Picle, a free iOS photography app with a twist: the aim is to make something that sounds like Instagram. It’s a lovely idea but the initial release suffers a few disappointing problems.
Picle is so named because that’s the term given to the image+sound moments it records. You don’t snap a picture: you snap a picle.
By default, the app records an Instagram-friendly square image (no retro filters here, just what your lens sees) and 10 seconds of audio. The idea is to capture your surroundings in more depth than a photo, but without the large file size of a video clip.
It works, on the whole. Ten seconds turns out to be a sensible default – not too long to spend listening, but long enough to capture what a place is sounding like. You can record a shorter clip if you prefer.
Your picles are saved on your device automatically, and if you wish, you can upload them to the web to share with others. Doing this means you have to sign up for a (free) picleapp.com account. You don’t have to sign up to record picles, only to share them on the web. You can see a few of mine here.
Picle’s being launched at SXSW under the mantra “minimal viable product”, which explains why it is a little rough around the edges. For example: it’s a sharing network, just like Instagram, but it’s hard to find other people to follow (I could only do so once someone else had followed me, after which I could navigate to his profile and find other people there). Another example: you can view your picles online, but not embed them elsewhere.
These shortcomings are, I’m sure, temporary. That’s what they mean by “minimal viable product”. The aim is to get something out there now, and refine and improve it.
The app was inspired by developer Alex Harding’s day trip to the seaside last year. He took photos and recorded sounds on his iPhone, then combined them all together in After Effects afterwards, resulting in this short film, which inspired the look of Picle:
This is where we discover Picle’s most interesting feature: just as Alex did on his day trip, the app lets you combine captured moments together as stories. You can play through a series of picles, one after the other, as if they’re a mini movie. Just like the one Alex made.
This is a really lovely idea and gives you loads of potential. It’s like making a film, but without all that tedious video editing business. Your images don’t move, but your ideas do. There are a few things missing here, too: you can’t delete picles from a story, so instead you must return to the “All picles” view and delete them from there. But you can re-order them easily by just dragging them around.
I love the idea of Picle, and it’s clear the developers are putting a lot of love into it. The flaws are disappointing, rather than irritating. I created a story of 10 picles, but all attempts to upload it to failed with an error, or with the app crashing. Arg.
It would be great if there was a way of exporting a picle story as a movie file, for sharing on YouTube or elsewhere. Maybe that’s something we can look forward to as progress continues.
Pro: Free; great idea with lots of potential.
Con: Yet another network to sign up for; bugs that need fixing.