Snapily: Shoot and Print 3-D Photos With Your iPhone And iPad [MWC 2012]


Snapily makes even the handsome John Brownlee look terrible
Snapily makes even the handsome look terrible

BARCELONA, MOBILE WORLD CONGRESS 2012 — Snapily is an app that lets you snap 3-D photographs with your iPad or iPhone, and then view them with 3-D specs. You can even order 3-D lenticular postcards from the app and have them sent to your home. It would be amazing: if it worked.

To be fair, the demo that the Snapily folks showed me, after buttonholing me while in the middle of a Photoshop Touch demo, actually looked pretty good, and the sample postcards here on my desk are just fine. But trying to make my own 3-D scene with the $2 Universal app proved impossible.

It’s supposed to work like this: You hold the iPad/iPhone out at arms length, parallel to the floor. Hit record and slowly swing from side to side, as if shooting a panorama. When done, the app processes the whole lot into a 3-D scene. Supposedly.

The app guided me to take in almost 180˚ of the Mobile World Congress press room, when all I wanted was a picture of Cult of Mac deputy editor John Brownlee. Maybe it’s for context, or to help the algorithms or something, I thought. Then, the app crunches the numbers. Go get a coffee for this stage. waiting for an app to complete a task on your Mac is one thing: you can always check Twitter in the meantime. But at a minute plus, sitting waiting for your iPad is excruciating.

And when done, I got a barely 3-D, blurred and plain weird image of Mr. Brownlee (weirder even than he is in real life), with none of the surrounding room.

On the other hand, if you can generate a decent 3-D image, you can order one of those cool lenticular 3-D postcards for just $4. Given that I was once quoted a minimum price of around £10,000 for a batch of these, $4 is a steal. Just find a different way to make the 3-D photo.

  • joewaylo

    I’d prefer an IMAX 3D version of the photo versus Red/Blue. Maybe even adding an accessory on top of the iPhone and iPad to make it glasses free 3D.

  • Anton Bar

    3D photography requires some breaking in, here’s a few gotchas:
    1. Snapily3D needs a lot of natural light, so we warn to shoot only outdoors during the day. This is because of various hardware and software limitations of the iOS ecosystem. 

    2. Snapily3D needs to shoot the entire scene in a sweeping motion in order to take frames from several different angles. These are needed for reconstruction of real, printable 3D photos. 

    3. You need to make sure you keep your arms steady while moving the camera. 

    4. In order to provide a better 3D experience you will need to make sure there are objects placed at different depths (near, middle and far).

    5. Keep your focal point in the middle, it will be the sharpest point in the picture. The nearest object should be at about 5f/1.5m from the camera. 

    We are working on improving the quality and the speed – stay tuned :)


    Anton Bar, VP R&D,

  • Marc Vivet

    The light is very important … try to make some outdoor images using day light … This is because the iPhone / iPad cameras becomes blurry in bad light conditions, so if the captured video is blurry of course the resultant 3d image is also blurry.