The concept of “natural media” — the attempt to bring a real-world feel into the digital realm — has been around almost as long as computers themselves. Mac FlipAlbum 3.0, from E-Book Systems, tries to approximate the real-world experience of turning pages in a photo album, by simulating the album on your monitor. For some users, this will come as a welcome relief from obviously digital interfaces, but for most, it will be only eye candy.
Mac FlipAlbum provides a simple way to create and view photo albums: you can browse your vacation photos by clicking anywhere on a page to advance forward or backward. When you move between pages, one or more animated pages “flip” past, giving the appearance of real pages turning. However, this animation can be sluggish, especially in larger albums.
Creating a new album in FlipAlbum is as intuitive as using the interface: when you start the program, just point to a folder of photos — FlipAlbum will place each image and its file name on its own page in the new book. You can also import or drag an image directly from the Finder into an open book to place it on the current page. However, FlipAlbum has significant layout and editing limitations. There’s no way to automatically lay out multiple images on a single page, as you can in Apple’s iPhoto. Although FlipAlbum includes basic image-editing tools, you’ll have to perform image correction in another program. Finally, despite a name that implies photo-album production, FlipAlbum can be used to create only virtual photo albums, not hard copies.
Macworld’s Buying Advice
Mac FlipAlbum is definitely not a tool for professional photographers, but home users who are looking for a conceptual alternative to iPhoto may find FlipAlbum’s interface refreshing. However, those users should think twice before deleting iPhoto from their hard drives — there are still many things FlipAlbum can’t do.