Mosaic lets you create beautiful photo books from your iPhone

It’s funny how things happen in life. A couple weeks ago, I was telling my wife that I would like to start putting together photo books of our daughter on a monthly basis, right from my iPhone, but without spending hours putting them up together. At the time, I told my wife that to my knowledge, there was no such app that would allow me to publish photo books in just a few minutes.

Then, as if they had heard me, the fine folks at Mosaic emailed me to let me know about their upcoming app and printing service, which lets you create beautiful printable photo books in a matter of minutes. I was definitely sold on the idea, but I still had to try it for myself.

I was sent an early release of the app, as well as a coupon code worth $26.50, which equals to $20 for the photo album, and $6.50 for shipping charges. With this loaded on my iPhone, I was really excited about the opportunity to try on this new service…

The Mosaic app is an app that lets you create a photo book right from your iPhone. But the real beauty of it all is how simple and quick it it is to create your photo book. Just grant it access to your photo library, and start selecting the photos you want in your book. If like me you have hundreds of pictures on your iPhone, that might be the part that takes you the most time. Even though the Mosaic team claims you can create an album in 60 seconds or less, I found it hard to do because the photo selection process already took me a good five minutes. I guess if you know what pictures you want to include in your photo book, you can probably get away with in in just about a minute.

Mosaic lets you choose 20 pictures. Not 19, not 21. If you were thinking about getting your wedding pictures printed with Mosaic, you may want to think about another option. Mosaic is not for printing books of big events such as a wedding. Mosaic is ideal for smaller events that can be summed up in 20 pictures.

Mosaic doesn’t have any options to choose from. Just select the pictures in the order you want them to appear in your book, choose whether you want the book printed in white or black, fill out your shipping and billing information, and you’re done. Simplicity at its best.

But simplicity sometimes has its drawbacks, as I was able to verify with Mosaic.

As I mentioned above, you have to select the pictures in the order you want them to appear in the photo book, and you can’t really reorganize them once they’ve been selected. The only way to reorganize your photos, is to unselect them, and select them again in the order you want them to show in the book. It’s a very small inconvenience that I’m sure the folks at Mosaic debated about at some point. In order to keep their app simple and straightforward, I think they made the decision to keep any reorganization feature out of the way, which some might see as a problem. It wasn’t a big deal to me.

Update: Mosaic founder Caleb Elston just let me know that you can tap and hold photos in the tray to drag and drop photos to arrange how you like. My bad.

Another drawback of pushing simplicity too far is that you have no option to write short comments under each photo in the book. As a matter of fact, you have no option to write anything anywhere. If I wanted to write comments or give a title to some of my photos, what I really missed the most was the ability to have something written on the spine or on the cover of the printed photo book. If I plan to use Mosaic on a regular basis, something tells me that those printed books are going to get mixed up really quickly. Maybe that’s something the Mosaic team can think about implementing at some point.

As soon as you place your order, you receive a confirmation email to let you know your order has been received. Later on, I also received two additional emails to let me know that my book was being printed, and that it had been shipped. I really appreciated this. Like me, I assume that when you buy something online, you want to know about every step. Mosaic does a great job of keeping you in the loop.

I received my photo book two days after creating it from my iPhone. Now I can’t assure that everyone will get the same treatment but Mosaic’s website claims that photo books are printed within 48 hours and shipped UPS Second Day Air. That’s a four day turnaround from the time you order to the time you receive it, which I think is very impressive.

The photo book comes in a beautiful Mosaic-branded box. The box will ultimately end up in the trash can, but it’s yet another proof of Mosaic’s attention to details when it comes to making the experience a beautiful one.

The photo book is exactly what I expected to receive. The print quality is excellent, and from my experience, it definitely matches the print quality of more expensive and similar services such as ShutterFly. Some of the pictures I got printed were shot with the front facing camera of my iPhone, yet they came out very crisp and clean.

Will I use Mosaic again? Absolutely. At $26.50 a pop, it’s a no brainer to me. I can definitely see myself making a compilation of photos of my daughter every month or so, just so I can have a hard copy of them. I am also thinking it can be a great gift to send people after an event such as a birthday party or a Thanksgiving dinner, etc…

If I could change one thing about Mosaic, I would probably add an Advanced mode that would let me print a title on the spine or cover of the book, as well as titles or comments under each picture. Of course, that would go against the beautiful simplicity of the app, but I think it would also drastically improve on the final product.

The Mosaic app will be available from the App Store before the holidays. If you’re looking for a simple and quick way to create beautiful photo books, give it a try. Something tells me you won’t be disappointed.