the project life app : a detailed review

October 22, 2014

project life app review

Y’all know how much I love Project Life if you’ve been reading for any length of time. Well, if you haven’t heard – there is now a Project Life app! It’s $2.99 for iPhone and iPad. At first I wasn’t sure that I would really use it. After all, I like to have a physical album. But in the end I couldn’t resist purchasing it, and today I want to give you the lowdown on what it’s actually like and ideas for using it.

Let’s go screen by screen to see what it does!

project life app review: screen 1

When you first open the app, you have the choice to watch an intro video or not. Later, the video doesn’t open but you can find it in the info section. The above left screen shot is the standard opening screen, and from there you have four options, which are very clear.

Above right, you’ll see what it looks like when you open the library. It saves your in progress pages and collages, completed pages, and completed collages (we’ll get to those in a minute). Something is saved as in progress when you X out of the screen and there is at least one blank spot there. It is saved as completed if all the spots are filled, regardless if you still wanted to make changes or not. Tapping “more options” allows you to sort things by different dates.

Also in the library you can view all the kits available to you with their contents, and view/purchase new kits. With a future update, you will also be able to order prints from here.

On to the heart of the app, making a page.

project life app review make a page

Making a page

So when you open up the “make a page” template, you have the option to customize a few things. You can choose the kit you’re working with (or color palette, shown above right). The app comes free with Kraft, Midnight, Strawberry, and School-Themed kits. So if you don’t like any of those, be aware that you’ll have to purchase what you want (cards and kits are either $0.99 or $1.99 depending on how much is included). Thankfully I use Midnight almost exclusively these days!

You can also customize the background of your page layout to a different color, whether you want rounded or square corners, and the layout of the page itself. It comes free with most standard layouts, and then there are three extra layout packs you can buy for $0.99 each. (Popular page layouts that aren’t included free are: Design F, Design H, and Design E.)

project life app review adding journal cards_edited-1

Journal and filler cards

So then you tap on the space that you want to edit. You can choose to fill it with a photo or a journal card. When you tap the journal card icon, it takes you to your kits and you can pick any card you want, from any edition. You can use a combination of kits on the same page as well. Here, I chose a title card from the Midnight edition, and on the right you can see it zoomed out.

project life app review journaling and fonts

On any journal card that has space to write, you can tap on it and open the keyboard to write. In the above right screenshot, you can see the options you have for editing the text. You can change the font color, the font itself (there are eight options there), the size, line spacing, how much space is above the journaling (vertical offset), and the justification.

A couple things I want to mention: you can only add text on specific areas of the journal cards that allow it. It’s not free text anywhere, and you can’t move it around super creatively. Also, some of the journal cards that have white space are categorized as “filler cards” and so you can’t write on them. And some of the journal cards have title spaces that aren’t editable, and without adding text there, it looks kind of funny. Examples:

project life app review filler cards

Above left is a “filler” card that doesn’t allow text editing, but obviously it needs it. Above right you are unable to add text to the white box at the top. I’m hopeful that they’ll fix these issues in future updates.

project life app review adding photos

Adding photos

If you choose to add a photo, it opens up your albums on your phone. You can do some basic editing of the photo right there as well: brightness, contrast, saturation, and rotating. You can’t add text to your photos, so if you want that you’ll have to do it beforehand using another program or app.

Another cool option is to add an item from Dropbox. To do this you have to have a Dropbox account and have the app installed on your phone. If you want to use your own custom cards, this is how you’d do that. I used it to insert the week in review cards I use on each spread.

Once you have your photos and cards in place, you can move them around by dragging and dropping. They just switch places. It’s very easy.

Uses for the Project Life app

1. Comprehensive memory-keeping. One obvious use for the app is to make a page on it, export it as either an 8×8 or 12×12, and then either save your pages up to make into a bound photobook, or print them and slide them into page protectors. You could easily do all your scrapbooking with this app and have gorgeous books to show for it.

2. Planning your physical pages. So far, this is how I’m using it and it’s saving me a ton of time. I can start planning my pages ahead of time in the few minutes here and there I have to spare (even with my kids around) and then when it’s time to make the physical page it takes half the time.

project life app planning

On the left: my planned page. On the right: my actual page. 

3. Inserts. If you do physical Project Life albums and want to stick with that (I do, for now) you still might want to consider printing out pages from the app for inserts. It just might be easier to get more photos in or to get the layout you want, especially if you don’t have a variety of page protectors.

4. Special events or traveling. If you have a big event you want to document in addition to your regular spreads, you might think about using this to make a mini photobook instead. It would also be perfect for traveling because you can work on it as you go.

So what do I think?

I think it’s a really neat app that does a whole lot for a low price. I love having it to plan and I look forward to using it for inserts and other occasions. One of my friends is considering switching over to using it exclusively.

It’s not a substitute for Photoshop if you like stuff truly customized, but with the Dropbox feature and using other apps to edit photos you can get your spreads pretty close to exactly what you want.

So have you seen or tried the Project Life app? Could you see yourself using something like this for memory keeping?


Posted in: crafty, product reviews, documenting, project life

Comments on the project life app : a detailed review

  1. 1

    From Sarah @ Beauty School Dropout:

    This is an awesome review! I might switch to digital for next year, it looks so easy and I’m sure I’d be more likely to keep up with it this way. I don’t keep a ton of pictures on my phone though, since my husband made me switch from iPhoto to Lightroom so we could keep our photos together. (Or something like that — he’s very anti-iPhoto for some reason.)

  2. 2

    From lauren w:

    On the last photo you have of the planned spread vs completed spread…. what are you using to make the image with two photos and text?

    I love the simplicity of the app but the lack of total customization makes me nervous to commit. I’ve already purchased it so I’ll at least use it to plan. I’d LOVE to use it exclusively to make a bound book but I’m not totally sure what i plan to do….

  3. 3

    From Nora:

    I can definitely see how this would be helpful! I have yet to have a craft project I start get finished (I still have to do our wedding photo album from two years ago…) because I get caught up in reading or baking. The truth is I love projects like this, love to do crafts, just… stink at planning it into my routine =)

  4. 4

    From Sarah:

    Hmm, so this is really interesting and helpful! I love the idea of Project Life but have always talked myself out of it because I just don’t think I have time for it (a.k.a. it wouldn’t be a high priority for me, and I don’t want to take on another project just to end up feeling guilty about falling behind).

    But I’m totally intrigued by the idea of using the app exclusively and printing out pages. (The need for printed photos is one of the primary hang-ups that has kept me from trying it so far.) $3 isn’t that much. Maybe I’ll give it a go.

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