Mobile journalism: The apps
Following up on yesterday's post about my top gear picks for mobile journalism, I thought it would be a good idea to tally up a list of the top iPhone/iPad apps that help me push quality content directly from the field while reporting. My criteria for picking the apps were the following:
- Is the app user friendly?
- Does the app allow for A-Z production? Meaning, does it allow you to create, edit and publish?
- Is the finished product consumer ready?
Top 10 apps for mobile reporters
*Note: this list is in no specific order.
Tweetdeck – Free
The reason why I love Tweetdeck is because it allows users to share content on multiple social media platforms at once. Once your story is published and ready to be shared, copy the URL and send it out to various Twitter and Facebook accounts. The app also has a column function, making it easy for people to follow certain trends and topics. Tweetdeck is apparently going to stop upgrading its mobile apps to focus on web-based applications, but I'll keep using it until it gets replaced by something just as efficient.
YouTube Capture – Free
YouTube Capture is an obvious choice for this list. Sure, the app leaves a bit to be desired in terms of editing, but I haven't found another mobile app that allows for decently speedy uploads to the popular video platform. With YouTube Capture, a reporter can shoot raw video or pick pre-edited pieces and push them directly to YouTube. The app also gives you the option to share your content on Twitter and Facebook.
ReelDirector – $1.99
I use ReelDirector for quick jobs that don't require too much precision in terms of editing. It's perfect for cutting bits off of raw tape, quick interview clips, etc. The app lets you add text, credits, transitions and music. The video compressing features are also great for people who want to publish edited videos quickly on YouTube or Facebook. The clips can be edited down and the quality can be downgraded for faster upload.
ProCamera – $3.99
ProCamera is my favourite photo app for iPhone. It's very user friendly, quick and efficient. Users can pick different settings from aspect ratio, anti-shake, self-timer, light measure, fullscreen trigger, rapidfire mode, geotagging, compass, etc. I can't really rave about this one enough. This app is even a triple threat! – You can shoot photos, videos and read QR codes. What else can you ask for?
Photoforge2 – $3.99
Photoforge2 is probably the most comprehensive photo editing app I've found so far. Users can easily edit brightness, contrast and colour tones, but the app pushes the boundaries by also giving you the chance to edit curves and levels. It's one of the few apps I've tested that allow for layer editing and picture straightening. One of the best features is the easy "undo." Made a mistake? Go back however many steps you want and keep going.
Wordpress – Free
I know not everyone will agree with me on this one. As a Wordpress user, I find the app (particularly the iPad version) very useful, mostly because it's so similar to the browser application. Publishing content with the app never really goes awry and being able to preview the posts is extremly useful.
Voddio – $9.99
Voddio by Vericorder is the most expensive app on the list, but it's doubtlessly the best app for video and audio editing. (There's also a free version available, but the sharing and exporting features are missing.) Sure, it might take a little while for people to get the hang of it, but being able to edit multiple video and audio tracks is very useful. The other great thing is that Voddio allows users to write script and record in-app for easy voiceovers. I have yet to check out the iPad version of this app, but I already know it will be a gem for complicated editing.
Twitcasting – Free
Twitcast is a little odd in terms of formatting, but it's a fantastic tool for livestreaming live events. I don't recommend using this app for planned coverage, but it's definitely the perfect tool to broadcast protests, flash mobs, raids, etc. Twitcasting offers several broadcast settings including standard, high quality, low bandwidth, live radio with images and live radio. The app links directly to your Twitter account and sends links to your feed. The best part is being able to tweet while the video streams. This can definitely affect the video stability, but the app doubtlessly lends itself well to live breaking news.
UStream Broadcaster – Free
UStream Broadcaster required an account, but remains one of the best apps for livestreaming. I mostly use this tool to livestream planned events. A team can easily broadcast clean content when pairing the app with ustream.com and multiple camera streams. Favourite feature: save broadcast. It's always nice to have access to the footage later in case you feel like repackaging a piece for a more complete story.
Merriam-Webster Dictionary – Free
The Merriam-Webster Dictionary app is plain and simple: it's a pocket dictionary with voice search options and a wealth of knowledge. The app also has a pronouncer to help you say obscure words when recording voiceovers!
Untested honourable mentions
I have yet to use the apps below while reporting, but thought they deserved an honourable mention. Don't hesitate to leave comments and suggest other apps you think should have ended up in my list.
iSaidWhat?! – $2.99
iSaidWhat?! lets you write a script and record while reading. It seems like a perfect tool for the web-radio reporters who want to publish content to the web in little time. The app can also be used as a highly efficient – and comprehensive – audio editing tool.
Vyclone – Free
I'll be honest, I'm a little bit skeptical about Vyclone, but I feel it could be worth a try when covering events with a team. By using geolocation and soundbites, the app finds clips of the same event and arranges a montage of various angles without disturbing the audio. By synching different feeds, a team of reporters could easily package video of a speech, for example, and not have to worry about having a lack of visuals. The videos can also be shared on social media platforms. The only apparent downfalls so far are that the videos are uploaded to Vyclone's feed and can be remixed by other users.