Cameras

Photo App of the Week: GifBoom for iOS and Android

This free animated gif-maker offers a social-media twist.

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GifBoom is a free app for iOS and Android devices that creates animated .gif images out of still photos (or batches of still photos, more accurately). Animated gifs are a mainstay of internet culture, first rising to prominence back in the 1990s, and still populating forums, blogs, and Tumblrs.

Gifs play like short, silent video clips, but the files are much smaller. Obviously any iPhone or Android that can run GifBoom can also record, share, and play videos, but gifs have a tacky charm, and are much easier to edit into something creative and unique. GifBoom brings the tradition to smartphones, with an added touch of social media.

What It Gets Right

Like it should, GifBoom makes it easy to piece together a quick gif. In Post mode (the camera icon), GifBoom can capture up to 20 shots to edit together as an animated image. Users can control the continuous shooting speed, and can start and stop the camera at will. The editor can import pre-shot photos, too.

Each animation can support up to 20 frames, and GifBoom automatically stitches them together. Users can then adjust the frame rate, crop the image, and add digital filters and borders.

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Then it's time to publish, and that's where the social aspect comes in. Users can upload their gifs to popular services like Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr, but GifBoom has its own network—a fun, active one at that. It encourages sharing your gifs, liking other users' gifs, adding friends, and all the standard trappings of a social site. Every new gif gets featured on a "latest" page for at least a few minutes, and the most popular gifs earn a callout. A handful of unofficial contests seem to be going on at any given time, and it encourages some really creative experiments with color, perspective, editing, and the like.

What It Could Do Better

That said, the social aspect of GifBoom seems dominated by 15 year-olds. At least half of the “latest” gifs at any given time are duck-face self-portraits, now with movement. I tried using the Facebook friend-finder feature, but none of my Facebook connections—99 percent of whom can legally buy beer—have GifBoom accounts. It would feel much more welcoming if community was a bit more, let's say, age-diverse, or if it at least presented that illusion.

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Worth A Download?

It’s free, so it can’t hurt. It’s one more service to sign up for, which is always a bit of a hassle (Facebook integration would simplify things). And like most social networks, the vast majority of the content is completely inane. But it provides another creative outlet for photography, and does it well.