Wacom Bamboo Loop for iPhone, iPad review - Wacom's creative twist on social networking
Best known for an impressive collection of interactive pen displays and digital drawing tablets, Bamboo Loop is the latest of Wacom's forays into the world of apps. Taking its name from the fun focused, entry level tablet, Bamboo Loop is all about connecting via creating, sharing user generated cards with friends, family and social networks, which essentially for now means Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and Instagram. Cleverly, Wacom has made this process as simple as possible, so it has potentially much wider appeal than the typical audience for the company's products - designers, photographers, and the like.
Bamboo Loop offers a variety of styles and 'realistic inking tools' to get you started with the ability to take a suitably framed photo from within the app or by simply selecting from your photo library. Once taken or selected you can pick from a limited choice of styles - retro, sepia, black and white, contrast and templates - and add your own text and doodles. These marks can be deleted using the eraser tool, so you can practice making your mark making as legible as possible. Once you've built a collection of cards, you can happily flip through those associated with each individual, a potential memory box of hopefully happy and fun moments shared. While users can email and save photos cards, there currently appears to be no way of saving an image to your camera roll at a good quality size and resolution, which is disappointing when you consider the results make great eye candy.
While Bamboo Loop is free it comes with a range of tempting extras, with the ability to browse and buy additional styles including frames, type, patterns, art and vintage. At £1.49 each, buying all the current Top In-App Purchases will cost you a whopping £13 plus. As each pack only contains a small selection of styles, which while seductive hardly seems value for money, it's an even tougher call to justify. While finger friendly, Wacom suggests the app performs best with a stylus, a Wacom one at that, which only adds to the cost. For instance the Wacom recommended Bamboo Stylus Mini costs £12.99, while the Bamboo Stylus solo costs £24.99, the Bamboo Stylus duo £34.99. Each stylus appeals well beyond the app but you have to wonder how Wacom's policies here will entice new and casual users?
One other noticeable issue with this new app is accessing your contacts for sharing, which at launch proved a buggy process we eventually overcame, although we are not sure how. You would hope such a serious bug would have been quashed long before the app arrived on the iTunes App Store, spotted either by Wacom or Apple. Additionally, if you find yourself hooked on sending and receiving cards, you might want to disable notifications - under iOS Settings > Notifications - to avoid yet another distraction from your digital life.
Grumbles about Top In-App Purchases aside, Bamboo Loop looks to be a good start from Wacom, that has much wider appeal then the company's creative focus, with ease of use a clear winner here. Social networking is a tough sector to crack though, and Wacom face a challenge to make sharing with Bamboo Loop vital in a digital world dominated by Facebook and Twitter.