With the iPad 2, back in early 2011, Apple brought Photo Booth to the iPad. I distinctly remember thinking that this was a no-brainer at the time. Growing up in Ghana, there weren’t that many Macs in my high school, but everybody that had one used Photo Booth. It was very regular to walk into the sixth form (senior year) common room and see groups of friends, myself included, behind a MacBook playing with the filters. Talking to several of my American friends, it sounds like it was the same deal here. I always thought that it was only a matter of time before Apple brought Photo Booth to the iPhone, but six years later it still just ships with Macs and iPads (and I don’t think that it’s been updated in that time).
Playing with the Selfie Scenes in Clips last week, I had the same feeling that I did playing with Photo Booth on my Mac many years ago. It was a little surreal, as someone with incredible front-camera shyness, to find myself having so much fun with it. The whole experience had me thinking: In a few years, once the Face ID technology has spread to the rest of the iOS line (and maybe even the Mac), could Clips be the successor to Photo Booth? Between Selfie Scenes, stickers, Live Titles, and fast sharing to social media, it seems the perfect fit.
I think the best modern equivalent of that Photo Booth social experience is Snapchat’s lenses, which I’ve observed can consistently deliver laughter and interest among a group of friends or family members. While Clips’ Selfie Scenes offer a similarly neat technical effect, if Apple is serious about being successful with the app, a couple big changes need to take place: the square orientation limit has to go, and Clips needs better hooks into apps like Instagram and Snapchat than the share sheet provides.
Photo Booth’s prime was a very different era than where we are today, and without the aid of a true social network it will be hard for Apple to replicate its success. So far, Animoji seem much closer to meeting that goal than Clips.