You probably can’t find too many of those vintage 1950s photobooths these days. If you’re over 30, you might remember them in carnivals, bus stations, five and dime stores, and amusement parks. They were usually just big enough to fit two people, and when you inserted your coins, the built-in camera would fire off four photos that would be instantly processed and printed on a single strip.
Photobooths may be hard to find, but you can now actually carry one around in your pocket, in the form of a iPhone app. It’s appropriately called Pocketbooth ($.99), and it really does replicate the vintage style, spontaneity, and instant feedback of analog booths. The app is also optimized for the iPad, and you only pay for it once to have it installed on both platforms.
We’ve written about similar cheesy photobooth-like apps and effects before, including one called Cheese Photo Booth, but Pocketbooth is about as real as it gets. The app was picked as a Starbucks App of the Week in 2012, and it has been featured as both a newsworthy and “Hottest Apps” in the iTunes App Store. Now Pocketbooth has made it to our Best of iPhone Apps page.
When you launch Pocketbooth, it starts off asking for permission to use your current location. This is a standard request for a photo apps if you want the GPS location data embedded in your photos. You can always disable this feature in the Settings app on your iPhone (Privacy > Location Services), but it might be useful if you’re using the app for vacation photos. Pocketbooth requires no other setup to get started, though there are some useful custom settings that I describe below.
By default, Pocketbooth uses the front-facing camera, because like the old style photobooths, you typically will take a fun photo of yourself and a friend, or significant other. You can however tap the camera icon in the bottom-left of the app and use the higher resolution regular camera on the back of the iPhone. To use Pocketbooth, simply frame your shot, and tap the green Start button. A red dot and a flash effect will fire off four times. You have two seconds between each shot to change to another hilarious facial expression.
After your shots are taken, Pocketbooth instantly produces a photo strip. Tap the Photo Strips button to see the results. The demo strip in the app can of course be trashed.
Pocketbooth provides several ways to share and save your photo strips beyond the app, including actually sending the strips off to be paper printed; sharing them by email, on Facebook or Twitter; or saving them to your iPhone’s Camera Roll. You can even print them yourself using AirPrint.
What’s great about Pocketbooth is that it doesn’t by default automatically save your photos to your Camera Roll. This means you can delete the results of a strip of photos without them being copied to your Photo App, where you would have to manually delete them.
When you tap on the upper-right gear shift button, found in the camera mode of Pocketbooth, you get several options for how you want the photo app to work. You can change the default number of photos it takes from 4 to 3, and the number of seconds between shots.
You can also set to have the app automatically save your strips to the Camera Roll, and you can choose from one of five photo effects (1975, Antique, B&W, Color, and Sepia) to apply to your photos. Unfortunately you can’t change or apply these effects after you take a set of photos. They have to be set beforehand. You can also purchase dozens of other photo effects for $.99 each.
In addition, Pocketbooth includes settings for different photo borders, Matt or Glossy photos, Auto Flash. If Pocketbooth makes you want to find a real photobooth, the app’s Settings also include a link to Photobooth.net, which gives you a listing of photobooths near you, and where you can actually rent a booth. The site also includes other resources, photos, and projects related to this vintage style of photo taking.
While Pocketbooth can’t be as fun as squeezing into a closet size booth and drawing a curtain to take romantic and funny photos, it’s nevertheless a cool, nifty app for any party, wedding, or social event. Let us know what you think of Pocketbooth. Are there features you would like to see added?