Shutterfly, Inc., a Redwood City, Calif.-based photo-publishing site, wants to become your one-stop shop for printed photo products. Today it launched a free iPad application called Shutterfly Photo Story , which lets you create your own photo books -- with a difference.
Unlike other photo books, Shutterfly Photo Story lets you add 30-second audio messages to each page. Your photo album becomes an instant story, engaging all your relatives and friends in a more intimate and personal experience. A QR code printed on the photo book lets readers hear the recorded messages. A "record" button appears on each page as you create your photo pages in Shutterfly Photo Story, and you can choose to add one audio file for the entire book or add audio to every page.
When you share your photo book via email or Facebook, a clickable icon appears on pages with embedded audio. For the hard cover books, a QR code is printed on the back. Readers scan the code to open a digital version of the book and listen to the audio, according to Shutterfly.
Shutterfly offers a choice of 10 different styles and three book sizes. Printed book prices range from US$29.99 to $59.99. You can only order an 20-page, 8 x 8-inch, 8 x 11-inch or 12 x 12-inch book with audio. Pages can be added for an additional fee and there is a choice of a hard or soft cover for your book. Less-expensive and small-sized books are also available, but do not include the new audio feature.
Shutterfly Photo Story imports photos from Facebook, Instagram, Shutterfly or your iPad Photo Stream. As with Shutterfly's other photo book products, the book can be shared on Facebook or printed as an actual hard copy. For creating a book without audio, Shutterfly for iPad is also available from the iTunes store.
Shutterfly Photo Story works on the iPad 2 and above and the iPad mini with iOS 6 or later. The limitations include that you cannot edit projects created on the iPad on your Mac, nor can you edit projects created on the Mac on your iPad, so for now, projects are device-dependent.
In the past couple of years Shutterfly has acquired the Kodak Gallery, card seller Tiny Prints, ThisLife and, most recently, MyPublisher, another photo book publisher. For a limited time, photo products bought at Best Buy come with a Shutterfly code for a free book. (I received one when I bought a camera at Best Buy two weeks ago.) Shutterfly also offers a sales page for specials and discounts.
Just to prove that sometimes we use the products that we review, I've printed a number of books from Shutterfly. Now, I just need to import the shots to my iPad and add audio to create that wonderful personal experience for my Mom!