I saw this at a friend’s house over the holidays. They took digital photos, loaded them on a PC, created a postcard, added a voice mail message, and sent it out as an email to a bunch of family and friends. Cool. So, how do you do that on a Mac?
Think of what you want to do. Take digital photos, drop them into a simple application, add voice commentary, send it via email. Simple, right? It even sounds like fun.
Listening to a voice commentary while viewing a photo slide show sounds cool. It just isn’t as easy as it sounds on a Mac.
The PC in question used an audio recording application that’s Mac and Windows. It’s called QuickVoice. $25 gets you a voice recorder, voice email, voice reminders, audio stickies, and an audio editor.
QuickVoice looks and feels more like a Windows PC application but it works as advertised. There’s also a companion product called Audio Postcard which lets you create and send email postcards with photos and audio captions. It looks more like a Mac application.
On the surface, this is what I was looking for as my “solution looking for a problem.” More on that in a moment.
Audio Postcard lets you embed audio messages, add titles and borders to photos, works with iPhoto (and My Pictures on Windows), and lets you drag and drop photos.
Remember, I saw this first on a Windows PC and was impressed. Not only did it look easy, it looked like fun. At the time I could only imagine how the recipients felt when they received an audio postcard.
The Mac version is a bit disappointing, though it worked OK. Audio Postcard is a little more fun to use, though some of the settings can be daunting.
After all, you just want to select a photograph, add a voice message, and send it. Audio Postcard does that, but the feeling you get is, “why doesn’t Apple do this?” Or, any good Mac developer, because it’s just a Mac-like thing to create.
The reason I say that is because a solution looking for a problem needs to be seamless, simple, straightforward, AND provide an exciting end result.
Apple’s iLife suite is that way. Look at what you get for $79. QuickVoice and Audio Postcard are bundled for $29 and the experience, though it works, left me with the feeling that I’d had to use a Windows PC to do it.
I like Audio PostCard’s integration to iPhoto. That works well and lets you add up to four photos to the postcard, though audio is limited to 20 seconds.
It’s important with both applications to read the instructions, and test the audio settings. Higher quality audio settings are fine for broadband users (DSL and cable internet access), but could result in long downloads for dial up users.
My father is still waiting for my last photo and voice message to download.
Audio settings can be as good as a professionally recorded CD for voice, or something really crummy as if the voice was recorded in a garbage disposal; running and with echo. You get to choose. Higher quality means larger file size.
Audio postcards. Sounds neat, huh? Add photos, add an audio caption, send away. That’s exactly what Audio Postcards does, though in a somewhat clumsy fashion.
That brings me to a conclusion that should have been reached earlier. Is this, audio postcards, a “solution looking for a problem?”
I think so. Why? Because it’s even easier to send photos from iPhoto via Mail, and call someone on the phone. Your mileage may vary, of course, but adding the voice wasn’t that much of a thrill.
After sending a few of these back and forth, I just picked up the phone so I could talk. Two way voice is better. With enough bandwidth and mobile access in an iPod, iChat AV could rock the world.
Alex, this is probably the first somewhat negative review I’ve read from you.
Jack D. Miller
How do you feel about Podcasts? Worth the time and trouble, or not?
Carol Mary Miller
I like the idea of getting photos from friends and clicking to save them in iPhoto. The voice part doesn’t thrill me, though.
Tera Jean Patricks
Much ado over not much. Alex is right. It’s a neat idea, not well implemented, probably gets washed away by future iChat versions with drag and drop photo sending.