The days of sticking photos into the plastic pockets of a family album are all but gone, thanks to the rise of digital photography.
But it is still a thrill to look at groups of your best photos, or photos from an event. Fortunately, there's a digital equivalent to the old photo album in the form of slideshow apps for your tablet or smartphone.
Photo Slideshow Director is a $2 slideshow app for iOS devices. This app can make a timed sequence of photos into a slideshow, and can time slideshows to match the length of a music track from your library. You select the photos you want to include by tapping on them in your archive, and the app displays them as thumbnail images on a timeline.
You tap and drag the thumbnails on this timeline into the order you prefer for your slideshow, or tap on the icon between each thumbnail to control the transition from one photo to the next.
There's a huge list of transitions, like dissolve effects and 3-D opening doors. You can also select a theme for your slideshow, which presents your photos against a background — like a wooden frame or a colourful blur — and selects transition effects for you. (Some of the themes are a bit ugly, though.)
You can watch slideshows on your device's screen or on a television using an Apple TV box. The best part is that this app can export shows to your device as a video file, for easy sharing. You can also publish the file to YouTube or cloud storage services like Dropbox. A drawback is that the app is so full of features you might forget which menu you're in.
Slideshow Builder ($2 on iOS) includes some impressive special effects. The interface is straightforward, with clear icons and carefully arranged menus.
A specialty is detecting faces in the photos you select for a show. When these photos are shown on screen, the app zooms into the faces before showing the bigger picture. This effect would work well for wedding photos and the like. You can password-protect your slideshows, and features include a long list of special effects for transitions.
The main limitation is with sharing: You can share your slideshows via Dropbox, email or iCloud but only with someone who also has the app (or the free Slideshow Builder Lite, which has fewer features).
One useful app on Android is SlideShow Application. Its interface is fairly simple, but it's reasonably powerful and has a handful of transition effects. You can add captions to photos and a soundtrack for the whole show or for individual photos. On the downside, it's sometimes hard to know how to control the app. To use sharing options, for example, or to edit a previous slideshow, you must press on the slideshow's name in the app's main window. Sharing is also limited to people who use the app. But it's free on Google Play.
Another free Android app that takes a slightly different approach is Photo Slides (Photo Frame). This app turns your device into a digital picture frame. It has many options for controlling how images appear, including various transition effects and the option to group photos by their orientation. Though this app is more about displaying photos for personal viewing, you could easily use it to share favourite photos.
A slideshow function is built into the operating system of iPads and iPhones. Some attractive transitions between photos are available, and you can view a show on your television by wirelessly sending it to an Apple TV box. But this feature is not as powerful as a dedicated iOS app, and you can't save a finished slideshow file to a separate device.
The Tamagotchi virtual pets have returned as an Android app called Tamagotchi L.i.f.e. The app recreates the look and feel of the original animated electronic toys, which you feed and nurture to keep alive. It's free on Google Play. The Kindle e-book reader for iOS has been updated with a better progress bar and some new features; one asks readers to share their opinions of a book the moment they finish it. (Kit Eaton/The New York Times News Service)