Liven up your videos and photos with Animoto

Animoto’s automatic video-creation Web service has been around for a while now, but its mobile versions are starting to gain some traction. Dedicated apps are available for free on both iOS and Android. This review is based on the iOS version, which is currently being featured in the New and Noteworthy section of the App Store front page.

Animoto is a service that allows users to upload photos and videos and then have them automatically assembled into a video with music. Users have the choice of a large number of different visual styles in which to present their video, and can also choose from a wide range of preset music to accompany the video. Users may also upload music from the iTunes library on their device, though doing so marks an agreement to Animoto’s submission terms, which state among other things that the user must have obtained all necessary third-party permissions to upload and use the content in their videos.

Animoto is very simple to use. Once the user has chosen to create a new video, picking a style and changing a song is a simple case of picking both from a list that includes previews of what to expect from them. Photos and videos are selected directly from the user’s device and may be rearranged by dragging them into the order the user desires. Individual items may be “spotlighted” as desired, which causes them to appear for longer in the final video. Text slides may also be added for “title pages” or other captions, though photos and text may not be mixed on a single slide.

When the user has ordered their content as they wish, tapping the “Preview Video” button generates a low-quality version of the video for the user to review. Once the user is happy with this, they may add a title, date and description, choose whether or not to share it on Facebook and tag friends, and then generate the final product. Processing takes a short while, but it’s not necessary to wait — the service emails the user when the video is ready, and automatically posts to Facebook if the user chose to do so. Facebook sharing on the iOS version uses iOS 6’s built-in Facebook functionality, meaning the user does not need to switch out of the Animoto app to agree to permissions or post the video.

Animoto is a free app, but limits are placed on what it’s possible to do with the default free “Lite” account — specifically, users are limited to 12 photos in a single video, there is a length limit on the video (meaning that too many “spotlighted” items can push content off the end) and there is a prominent “Animoto” logo at the end. In order to unlock full-length videos, users may subscribe to the “Animoto Plus” service for either one month or one year at a time via in-app purchase — this subscription is also valid for the companion Web service, which offers additional styles and tools.

The Animoto app is well designed and simple to use. Some users may prefer more precise control over the timing and style of their videos, but there are other apps that provide that sort of functionality, not least of which is Apple’s own iMovie. For a quick and easy means of presenting photos and videos in a lively, dynamic style, Animoto is hard to beat, and with its built-in social functionality it not only allows users to express themselves with the content they create, but it also allows the service to promote itself with its high-quality output.

On iOS, Animoto is currently the No. 31 top free app and No. 28 top grossing app in the Photography genre. On Android, it is ranked at No. 164 in the Photography genre. Follow its progress with AppData, our tracking service for mobile and social apps and developers.