A portfolio App for the iPad. Sounds like a no brainer right? However, It must be harder than it looks because I was stunned to see that there weren't really very many good options out there. Where most of the iPad portfolio apps fail is that they make it painfully difficult to get the images into the App to begin with. As a photographer, your portfolio is always evolving (or at least it should be). This means that you'll always have a new image to put in and an old one to remove. Yet most of the Apps in this category concentrate the bulk of their efforts on the presentation of the images and not so much on the ease of updating. Don't get me wrong, presentation of the images is the reason we're here talking about portfolio apps, but if I can't get my images in it to begin with then there isn't much to present 🙂 I looked at earlier versions of Xtrafolio and passed on doing a review. The goal of this site is to only review the "BEST" Apps and therefore we don't waste time with Apps that aren't the BEST or at least really good. At the request of the developer I decided to give Xtrafolio a second look and I'm happy to report that 99% of my initial gripes have been resolved.
Ease of getting the images in
Like I said, If I can't easily get images in/out of the App not much else matters. Xtrafolio now does a good job by offering several options for importing images. You can import via Dropbox (my preferred method and I'll tell you why in a minute). You can import via iTunes or from the images already on the iPad including those in the Camera Roll that you brought in from your camera via a card reader/connection kit. While I'm happy to see the Dropbox support I did encounter a bug with their implementation of it. My images are in a folder on my Dropbox and then in sub folders within that folder. However, for some reason every time I'd tap on that main folder it would show the contents of the folder directly above it. I finally just gave up because no amount of tapping would allow me to see the actual folder below. It's odd because it did highlight the correct folder, but it would always show the contents for the one above.
The reason that Dropbox support is key for me is that I use it in my Lightroom workflow. I use the Lightroom Hard Drive Publish Service feature to publish each of my portfolios to a folder on Dropbox. That way my portfolios are always up to date. For the purpose of the review I just decided to continue by using a gallery of images that were already on the iPad. Those images imported just fine. When you import images they sit within the App, but they are not accessible until you add them to a folder (Portfolio). I actually like this metaphor.
Arranging the images
Once you get your images in, you can arrange them into Categories and/or Folders. The folders are what really matters, but let's say you had a category of Travel, then you could have different folders for the places you went. Each Category/Folder can have its own settings. Also same image can be in more than one folder if you like. The settings include things like a Category/Folder Image to be displayed when at the main menu. You can choose whether or not the folder can play as a slideshow, transitions, and a song for the folder. You don't have to have a slideshow. As a matter of fact it's off by default. If you don't go with a slideshow then you'll simply swipe from image to image. Speaking of images you can create custom captions for each image. Yes, images can be resorted within the folders as well. This is probably one of the better implementations of this that i've seen.
More Options & Customization
You can choose to have a folder be visible or not visible. This could be used to keep some galleries from being seen by a different client. You can also passcode protect the App. At first I found the tap-both-sides-of-the-lower-right-corner-to-get-to-the-settings to be annoying, but now I really like it. When you launch the App you're taken to your Portfolios (folders) without anything else jumping out or standing in the way. This way you could hand someone your iPad and they could look at all of your visible portfolios without accidentally getting into the settings and screwing things up. Images can be shown in their full resolution if you choose that option for the Portfolio. This new version also supports showing PDFs.
Xfolio offers several options to customize the look and feel of the App to be more like the rest of your brand. You can even create your own startup screen for when you launch the App.
Room for Improvement
None of these portfolio apps are "perfect" but Xtrafolio has come a long way and could easily be the one I use with a few tweaks. With that said, there are a couple of things that need to be addressed. First and foremost is the Dropbox bug. Secondly the App did crash on me when I went to choose a song for a folder. However, once I got back in it was fine and I was able to use the song. So stability could be improved. Lastly and the thing that I haven't seen any of them do yet is give me the option to "SYNC" with folders on Dropbox. This way as long as my Dropbox folders are up to date, my Portfolio on my iPad would be up to date too! That would be the killer feature that would make me switch without a second thought.
The only other thing I'd like to see is that when I have a Portfolio (Folder) set to be a slideshow then it should just start playing when I tap that Portfolio. The way it works now, I still have to tap the Portfolio, then the first image, then the play button to start the show. Too many taps if I've setup the folder to be a slideshow with music. That's what I want it to do with one tap!
While the App does offer some nice options to customize the startup screen, it would be nice to see a preview of what its going to look like without having to leave the settings area and relaunch the app to see what you've done.
Lastly, how about some AirPlay love? It'd be cool to have the Portfolio play wirelessly via Apple TV 2.
The Bottom Line
Xtrafolio gets a lot of things right that the others don't. There are several customization features to make it look and feel more like a custom Portfolio App designed just for YOU. I would have no problem recommending this App to others.