Blurb is best known for its BookSmart software, a program that lets you create professional-looking books from your own photos and text. Offering a range of templates and the ability to print copies you want as and when you need them, it won favour among professional designers looking to produce slick portfolios, and doting parents looking for an enduring memento of their little darling’s first months in the world.
Blurb Mobile provides a twist on the self-publishing concept. Rather than creating books, you create ‘Stories’ – short multimedia albums, comprising photos, text and even sound and video clips. These can be played as slideshows, or as a presentation through which you can swipe.
The brevity of Stories forces some tough choices: you’re allowed up to 15 images, some concise text, and a couple of minutes of audio for each. But used smartly, this could help you hone in on your best work.
There’s the same slick aesthetic and emphasis on intuitive, enjoyable user experience as in BookSmart. We were also pleased to discover that Blurb Mobile offers a good degree of control over how images and other elements are presented. Some of the templates are rather cheesy, but it’s also brilliantly easy to create a classy piece of work.
When you’ve compiled a Story, you can share it publicly in the Story Stream – which features some stunning work by other users. Alternatively, you can share with friends through Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr or email.
It’s easy to see how Blurb Mobile could be handy for knocking together quick holiday albums or portfolios on the hoof, or for using as a digital scrapbook. It’s a highly versatile and fun way to share your work, housed in an app that’s well suited to the iPad’s tactile interface.
Getting started with Blurb Mobile for iOS
Step 1. You can start creating Stories without registering for the Blurb Mobile community, but you’ll need to sign up for a free account if you wish to share them through the public Story Stream, Facebook, Twitter or Tumblr. If you already have a BookSmart account, Blurb Mobile will recognise your existing login details.
Step 2. Tap ‘Create Story’ to get started assembling your own project. Give the Story a name, add a brief description, then specify whether you’d prefer to keep your masterpiece private or share it with the world through the Story Stream. This is also where you specify whether to tag your content with location information.
Step 3. Welcome to your Story-creation space. When you’re viewing any of your own projects, you can access the full range of editing tools, swap and rearrange images, or add more content by pulling down the bar from the top of the screen to the bottom – even after the project has been published.
Step 4. Add some images: one option is to shoot using either of the iPad’s cameras (tap the camera icon for this), although the iPad makes a rather unwieldy camera and the image quality isn’t amazing. We prefer to save the images we want to use into the Image Library in advance and tap the square icon to select them.
Step 5. Once you’ve added an image, corner handles will appear that allow you to modify the size and position of your image. You can also access these controls when you’re in Editing mode by tapping on an image. Pinch to zoom in and out, and swipe to adjust which section of the image you want to appear in the frame.
Step 6. The arrows in the righthand corners let you rotate the image. Using the arrow in the centre right you can toggle between a narrow image frame, the default square and a wider one, for a portrait, landscape or square picture. The purple arrow on the left allows you to change an image’s position in the Story.