App Rec: Magisto

We were going to write a post today about Instagram’s new video sharing service, but this app caught our attention first. Both Instagram and Vine are focused on collecting short videos. Vine is owned by Twitter, so it’s not surprising that it has a 6 second limit. Twitter’s always been focused on brevity. And Instagram (owned by Facebook) is trying to extend its reach beyond its photo sharing social networking dominance. We have tried both — Vine can be fun because you’re working within time constraints, and there are some fantastically creative Vine videos out there. Instagram has some nice tools built in, including filters and stabilization — always a good thing when you’re taking videos on your iPhone or iPad sans tripod. 

But sometimes you want to work on something that’s longer than 6 or 15 seconds (the limits for Vine and Instagram, respectively). And that’s where Magisto comes in. It’s not made for the videographer who wants to have control over every step of the process — that’s where apps like iMovie come in. But for most users who just want a nice looking project with a minimum of effort, Magisto is great. 


First, the details. Magisto is a free app that requires iOS 5.0 or higher. It will work on iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad but is an iPhone specific app so you’d be working in 2x mode on the iPad. You can have a premium account for $4.99 a month or $17.99 a year that allow you to take longer videos, add more photos and clips to movies, and have unlimited movie downloads.

You will need an account — you can link it to your Facebook or Google accounts or create one fresh using your email address. Once in the app, you hit the create option and you can either film your video or you can choose from clips you’ve already recorded. You can also add pictures for still shots. Once you’ve finished recording clips, you get to choose from a number of premade themes, and choose a song — they provide some matched to the themes, or you can choose from your own library. That’s it — the app will take it from there, applying the theme (filters and transitions) automatically. When it’s all done, you’ll get a pop up message saying it’s finished (and also an email). You can then view it in the app or online or share it. You can even create albums worth of videos and just share that so your family or friends can view multiple videos at once.



The simplicity and ease of use is a big plus in Magisto’s favor. Instagram in particular can be a little confusing to navigate, and the heavy focus on social networking is not to everyone’s taste. You have a little bit more control and a lot less social networking pressure with Magisto. Of course, some folks would like perhaps a little bit more control over the filters and especially over the transitions — but again, for that a more robust (and expensive) app like iMovie is better suited. 

Magisto is also cross platform, which is wonderful — it’s available for Android systems and has a web based option as well, which makes it really easy to share across platforms. And of course it will allow you to post to Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google+ and to email it out. 

Summer seems to be the time that folks have their iPhones always in their hand, taking pictures and videos. The genius of Magisto is letting you create something that looks nice without taking major time away from all that summer fun. We think it’s definitely worth adding to your app arsenal.