A picture is worth a thousand words. If you’d like it to say even more, consider PixKix, an iOS app that lets you can add interactive audio recordings to your favorite photos and share them with your friends.
Having only four basic steps, PixKix seems simple enough to use: 1) Take a photo or choose one from your device’s library; 2) Hit the microphone button and capture a 5 second audio recording; 3) Add a musical effect, or not; and 4) Post to the Community so your friends (with accounts) can look at, and interact with your photos.
This app should be a home run. It’s like Instagram, but with audio instead of visual effects! However, into that simple concept, PixKix crams loads of oblique features and effects, ruining the party before it gets started.
Granted, the first and second steps are straightforward: Choose which photo you want to share and record five seconds of any sound — music, traffic, nature, your voice — that you want to add to your photo.
Things become more complicated in step three, due to the variety of effects from which to choose. You can add one of four playback effects to your recording: “Straight Up” plays your recording as is; “Harmonize” plays with three voices looping and harmonized to different notes depending on the color you’re touching on the screen (more on this below); “Munx” plays three voices in a non-looping “chipmunk” style at pitches controlled by the colors you touch; and “Crowd” mixes the Harmonized and Munx effects.
So what’s with this color-touching thing? Well, PixKix uses patented “Pixound Technology” (as does this) to interpret color data as music and sound, as you move your finger across the screen. Generally, when you touch brighter colors on the photo, the recording will sound higher pitched, while darker colors drop the pitch lower.
On top of that, you can add a drum beat, choosing from thirty drum patterns; adjust the tempo; and change the key using the keyboard feature.
And that’s not all. The emotion selector allows you to change the vibe of your sound, choosing from Happy, Sad, Cool, Angry, Party, and Mystery.
When you’re finally ready to share your first audio-enhanced photo, you’ll need to create an account within the app and sign in to it, and then you can post your photos to the PixKix Community. You can also share them via email, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Pinterest.
But wait – that’s not even where it ends. Remember how I said that this app allows you to add interactive audio recordings to your photos? Well, I didn’t just mean interactive for you. After all of your hard work choosing the perfect audio effects, anyone who views your photo (depending on your privacy settings) can either change the effects as they view your photo, or alter the sound by interacting with the color-sensitive Pixound technology. At the same time, you can view and interact with other users’ photos. Feature bloat alert!
While we love the idea of combining music and sound with photos, and are certain that someone is going to get this right eventually, we found PixKix’s steep learning curve tiresome, to say the least. During testing, we frequently visited these instructions, and even then, we still found it extremely difficult to find our way around the app. For example, there’s apparently a way to share these photos with specific friends, but by that point, we were worn out.
PixKix’s downfall is that its reach exceeds its grasp. On the one hand, the purpose of this app is to allow users to add audio to their photos — a simple, powerful concept. On the other hand, the app turns photo sharing into some kind of inscrutable game… or something, but it was more obnoxious than anything. Besides, altering the effects and playing with the interactive technology rarely produced any cool sounding results anyway. In the end, PixKix does two things — neither of them as well as it could, and the whole thing is just way too complicated.
With some improvements and a lot of streamlining, PixKix could be great. We’d love to see it with more intuitive navigation system, and a narrowed focus. As things stand, we don’t really recommend it, although the thing is free, so feel free to find out for yourself.