Adobe Voice 2.0 review: Presentation app for iPhone delivers sophisticated animated videos

If you are already using Adobe Voice, you’re not the type who wants to leave much margin for error. You have something to say and you want to get that message across quickly and succinctly. A bit of flair and polish wouldn’t hurt, either.

The newly released universal iOS app guides you through each step of creating a unique and appealing animated video presentation, complete with audio-visual elements, images, icons, and critically, your own voice.

With Voice, Adobe diverges from its target audience of professional designers, photographers, and artists into consumer territory: business folks, activists, schoolteachers, and students. Voice is specifically for people who don’t have the time, skill, or interest in learning a photo, video, animation, or sound-editing tool.

The more you know about design, and the pickier you are about elements like color, layout, or fonts, the less inclined you’ll be to surrender your visuals to the template-driven, procedural approach that Voice takes.

Then again, the app’s ease of use and high-end output (H.264 HD video and HTML5) may tempt even pros who need to quickly knock out a community, school, or volunteer project. Adobe Voice is easy enough for a kid to learn and the results are fun to watch. Its slick productions never look canned.

Adobe Voice is not new, having launched as a free app on the iPad nearly two years ago. The new version with iPhone support answers a call by many users to access the creation tool straight from their pockets at any time. With larger iPhones introduced in the last two years, it now makes more sense to have a universal Voice app. Plus, anything you create is synced via your Adobe account so you can access and work on the same project from whichever device you have on hand.

The main ingredient for a Voice presentation is your voice: You start by recording the narrative. It’s oddly compelling to be repeatedly prompted to speak, but it also encourages you to hone your message for impact and to keep it short and simple.

While the templates will initially make design choices for you, there’s plenty of flexibility: You can experiment with different themes, fonts, colors, and music. Adobe includes a limited number of free soundtracks to use as backing music, though with this new version, you can now use non-DRM songs from your iTunes collection.

If you don’t know how to begin, the opening pane gives you abundant examples of what the app is capable of doing. This helps rank amateurs get the hang of what a script should sound like. Even if you copy an existing presentation frame-by-frame, there’s no chance that your content will look derivative.

Adobe provides customizable themes and access to 25,000 royalty-icons and millions of images derived from Flickr’s Creative Commons and public domain (complete with license information and credits). You can use all your own content, if you choose.

At the outset, you choose the kind of presentation you want to make (Promote an Idea, Tell What Happened, Show and Tell, Personal Growth and more) or just start from scratch. I like how helpful the app is in assisting with a script; when you pick a presentation type, the app prompts you for relevant content that you can speak or type. That helps you get through your project in 15 minutes or less.

Even when you’re finished with a project, you can still tweak it to your liking as you navigate through individual frames at the bottom of the window. You can alter anything about a page, including the layout, narration, icon, and images, though layout choices are limited.

Tapping the theme button lets you completely replace your current theme with a different one, leaving the content intact. Voice’s Theme Lab lets you customize themes by changing background and type colors and fonts. Your presentation can be customized with different background, icon, and photo border colors and fonts, with Voice automatically applying your choices throughout the video.

When you’re done, built-in social networking tools let you share your animation to Facebook and Twitter, by email or iMessage, or via your own website. And you can also save your animation to the Camera Roll and share it wherever you like, including to YouTube.

For the most part, Voice 2.0 brings you all the design goodness most users will need. The credits conveniently assure that any Creative Commons drawings or images you use in the piece are properly credited, plus you can add your own copyright to your original material, which is useful. However, some might be a bit miffed that they cannot remove the Adobe credit at the end, which is a little annoying. I’m not sure I want to constantly advertise Adobe in all of my Voice projects. It should be optional.

Adobe Voice takes care of all of the background effects and transitions, which makes the app fast and easy through fewer choices. However, these days, an abundance of consumer apps like iMovie offer some rudimentary transition choices, which would not add a learning curve.

From a design viewpoint, it may seem odd that the app works only in portrait mode. Though I can appreciate how that may add to novice ease of use, a landscape option would allow for even more customization.

As I placed icons on top of images, it became obvious that they could not be resized or placed anywhere but in the middle. It would have been nice to be able to resize the icons, an inherently non-complex task, especially since images can be adjusted within the template.

With all the free apps available these days, the question has become not whether an app is worth the money, but rather worth your time. Adobe Voice is free on the App Store with no Creative Cloud strings attached. You will need an Adobe login ID to save and share your work from Adobe’s servers.

If you have something to say to the world, you won’t be sorry you checked out Adobe Voice. Its ease of use, coupled with the ability to employ all your own resources, ensures that the voice you speak with is your own.


Jackie Dove

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