App of the Week – Photo Booth

Don't even try out the mobile Photo Booth app unless you're ready to buy an iPad 2. It's addictive, silly and very, very impressive.

When did photo booths change from sticky, smelly cubicles at the train station to designer snog-boxes no hipster wedding can afford to be without? Forget about spinning seats and posing grimly for a passport – if this digital photo booth was any cuter, you’d be able to print out stickers of yourself posing with a pink kitten. Wearing wellies.

Apple’s image-manipulating Photo Booth is one of the best things about iMacs, not just a great icebreaker but a handy way to generate status updates should you grow a moustache or get a silly haircut. Now Jobs and co have reinvented it as a way to get you to buy an iPad 2.

Make no mistake about it. Pick up an iPad 2 with Photo Booth running and you’ll be reaching for your credit card before you can say ‘cheese’. Nine filters give simultaneous, live feeds of the view through either of the tablet’s cameras. Three are distortions (squeeze, twirl, stretch), three are optical (mirror, light tunnel, kaleidoscope), two are chromatic (thermal, X-ray) and one is unadjusted normal.

The effect of having all nine going while the iPad is moving can be dizzying. Each frame updates instantly, without a hint of lag or blur. When you tap to switch into one, you can capture the image with a photo icon, swap between cameras or browse the images you’ve already shot on a smoothly scrolling film strip.

The awesomeness does fade in single view, as you realise that even the iPad’s main camera is pixelly, grainy and a meagre 0.7MP in resolution. It would also be nice to be able to capture a video of the effects, or swap between cameras in multi-view mode. But by the time you realise that, you’ll be sitting at home with a brand new £440 tablet in your hand.