The App: Ptch
The Price: Free
The Device: iPhone
The Basics: There are no shortage of video and photo montages on the internet, but these have traditionally been built after the fact using editing software on your home computer. What Ptch does is move this editing process to your mobile device, letting you create photo and video slideshows on the go, complete with music, filters and effects. In addition to being an awesome time waster (and an easy way to annoy those close to you by setting all of their worst photos to U2), Ptch provides quality results with an interface that will be easy to understand for anyone, even those who have never touched iMovie or other beginner software.
The Review: I’m flabbergasted that Ptch is free. When I use it, I can’t help but get the same guilty feeling that I get when I use Instagram: this too good…why aren’t I paying more for this?
I’ve always been skeptical of editing softwares for smartphones and tablets. I’ve edited my fair share of video and I simply can’t imagine taking on a project without a mouse and keyboard. I’m not going to say that Ptch has changed my mind about editing on a touchscreen, but it’s the first time I’ve seen a future for this on a mobile device. I’ll never edit a film on my iPhone, but a quick clip to shoot off to my friends and family? A quick update on a concert or event I’m attending for my followers on Twitter? Yeah, I can see it.
Ptch doesn’t necessarily sell itself as a video editor, but rather as a unique take on photo and video sharing. It has everything you’ve come to expect from a photo-sharing app: you login with your Facebook account and you can follow other users and browse the latest uploaded videos. Also like most photo-sharing apps, much of user-generated content can be pretty lousy, so finding friends and/or interesting users is a must (Ptch needs to take a note from Tiny Post and create a “Hall of Fame” so new users can find the best people to follow).
However, when you enter the “Create” section of the app, you start to realize exactly what Ptch offers. You can access your image and video library (as well as your Facebook uploads) from the top of the screen and creating a montage or slideshow is as easy as dragging the thumbnail of the image into the timeline. Naturally, you can re-arrange and shuffle these clips as you see fit and moving everything about is generally effortless. By tapping on a specific image or clip, you have further options. Being able to add text is great, but being able to trim video clips or adjust how long a photo will stay on screen before moving onto the next one feels revelatory.
Finally, there are two more buttons on the main page: styles and music. Think of the styles section as being Ptch’s little answer to Instagram, letting you add filters to your creation. Some styles are subtle (a basic frame or film grain), some are obvious but awesome (I love the old-school flickering of “Filmore”), some are delightfully tacky (“Bam!” or “Soho,” which can make even the simplest image busy and gaudy) and some, well, don’t seem to do much of anything (“Epic” actually makes my images look a little worse). It’s not a huge selection, but the filters are a fun addition and, when used right, can enhance a video.
Finally, there’s music, which lets you put a song over your creation. Unfortunately, the app doesn’t let you access your own music library (rights issues, perhaps?), forcing you to pick from the Ptch library. As much as I would like to have more control over what I score my slideshows with, I’ve got to admit that the many, many songs instantly available for use are impressive, to say the least. Every genre stretching back decades is represented and while I may not be able to find the perfect song every time, I’m usually able to find something close enough.
Ptch is an impressive app, the kind of product that makes me excited about my smartphone all over again. This is the kind of innovation that makes my job so much easier…and so much for fun.
The Final Grade: A-