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This Qwiki Keeps the Smiles Coming

By Chris Maxcer MacNewsWorld ECT News Network
Feb 11, 2013 5:00 AM PT

Qwiki for iPhone is available in the iTunes App Store for free.

This Qwiki Keeps the Smiles Coming


When Apple selected Qwiki for iPhone as an Editor's Choice app, I ignored it, then came back to it wondering what the heck it was: The icon has a couple of blocks and maybe a horizontal head shaped like a "Q," which vaguely looks like, well, I'm just not sure. I get more info from most fluffy white clouds. Meanwhile, the spelling is "Qwiki," which phonetically sounds like a popular recreational pastime for busy consenting adults.

Digging deeper, Qwiki promised to take my photos and videos from my iPhone Camera Roll and, with one tap, transform them into "beautiful movies" providing me with a "rich and elegant" way to share my life.

If you're like me, you take a lot of photos and video of your trips. Most recently, I spent some time at a local winter festival where I took photos and video of the events, along with friends and family and a bit of sledding. Over the course of two days, I picked up a few dozen photos and a half-dozen video clips.

After syncing with my MacBook Pro, these would typically enter a holding place where they might or might not ever get combined and shared. (I call this place iPhoto.)

Qwiki, though, promises to remove every single obstacle to doing something with your videos and photos. Not only does it promise to create a cool movie automatically, but it makes it easy to share, too. I had to try it.

Jaw-Dropping Results

To create a Qwiki, you have two basic options, Auto and Custom. The Auto mode accesses your Camera Roll, and as near as I can tell does so by date. Because I had two sets on two different days, Qwiki came up with two options for Qwiki movies from my Camera Roll. I tapped the first option and let it create a movie without doing anything.

Qwiki picked a song from my iPhone and generated a movie. Within seconds, the movie was ready, and wow, it was fantastic. Without even trying, I had a clip of friends and family sledding down hills, throwing snowballs, playing on a snow dragon, and watching snow bikes race.

Qwiki automatically picked and assembled photos, along with snippets of video, to generate a movie complete with smooth transitions and fancy sectional overlays. It was dynamic. It had a soundtrack. It made those memories come back to life, and it was hard not to smile.

I'm just saying it was absofrickinlutely delightful. I don't care if that's not a real world. It's hard to overstate how great the output was.

A Bit of Luck

Of course, Qwiki can't turn lousy photos into a genius movie. It can only produce with what you have on your iPhone. I tried a Qwiki with a bunch of photos of vacuum cleaners, and yeah, the results sucked. And the soundtrack song was totally wrong, too.

Fortunately, you can edit an automatic Qwiki. In the first attempt, I deleted one blurry photo of the snow. Alternately, you can manually select all the videos and photos from your Camera Roll, and then, after Qwiki takes a first pass, manually edit moments and create captions.

All-in-all, I found the editing controls to be a little cramped (iPhone 5 screen, you know), but easy to understand and surprisingly powerful. There's the right balance of granularity without giving you so much to mess with that you give up in irritation. Such is the power of Qwiki.

Social Engine First, Video Creation Second

There's not a lot of information available on the Qwiki website when it comes to support and vision, but it's clear that Qwiki aims to be a social sharing platform. You can post a Qwiki to the world and let users comment and follow you.

You can also post Qwiki videos to Facebook and Twitter, as well as email links to people that open up your video Qwiki in a web browser. I didn't test the Facebook or Twitter integration, but the email option was fast and easy.

If you post Qwiki videos, you can tag them like you do with Twitter, enabling fast searches. Or you can browse around and see what other people are up to.

In my mind, the social aspects are the least compelling feature of Qwiki. Most of my videos and photos I would prefer not to share with the world. In fact, even though I tried to simply create a private Qwiki video that I could share via email, I unwittingly posted two videos live to the world.

Unfortunately, it isn't exactly clear if you're making some private or not, and when and how that changes. You can lock a video for yourself, but you've got to lock it first and then not share it later. For a long time I couldn't figure out how to remove my published videos -- to un-post and un-publish them.

To do that, you'll have to click on the Share button again in the bottom right of your iPhone screen and then choose to delete. Not exactly intuitive, but effective. The email link that went to my live-to-the-world Qwiki videos? It now goes to an "Oops" page with no content.

For guys like me, the one feature that would keep me using Qwiki is a "save to Camera Roll" feature that would let me generate a video over which I would have total control. I'm unlikely to share my weekends with the world that often, but taking a moment to create a Qwiki video while waiting in a doctor's office? Sounds good to me. I would happily pay for the media generation engine behind Qwiki and forgo messing with the social media trappings of the rest of it.

Either way, if you have photos and videos on your iPhone of a good time, Qwiki can unlock them and make your memories of those moments leap back to life.

MacNewsWorld columnist Chris Maxcer has been writing about the tech industry since the birth of the email newsletter, and he still remembers the clacking Mac keyboards from high school -- Apple's seed-planting strategy at work. While he enjoys elegant gear and sublime tech, there's something to be said for turning it all off -- or most of it -- to go outside. To catch him, take a "firstnamelastname" guess at WickedCoolBite.com.

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