Bottom Line: Essentially an electronic-photo album app that gives parents an easy way to organize, share and permanently store their kids' artistic endeavors. It's a work in progress and iPhone only but is definitely worth a look while it's still Free.
Artkive is an app for parents designed by The Kive Company. The purpose of the app is to help parents declutter their lives by taking pictures of their child’s precious artwork and storing it digitally, thus freeing up space on the refrigerator for more important things like grocery lists and magnetic poetry pieces. If your child’s masterpieces from kindergarten are in a plastic bin in the garage, then this app has great possibilities for you.
Registration for Artkive is quick and easy and allows you to easily set up different Artkives for more than one child. It also allows you to create a Share Circle – you enter names and email addresses for anyone you'd like: aunts, uncles, grandparents, etc., and you can then share artwork with them. Facebook integration, which is normally frowned upon with kids' apps but could be of some use in this case, is not available for sharing purposes.
1. Take a picture of your child's artwork or select images already stored on the device.
2. Tag the picture with your child's name, grade, and date – there's even space for notes.
3. Choose Artkive to save, or Artkive & Share if you want to send the picture to someone in your Share Circle.
4. Go to My Artkive and view an individual child's art or all of your children's art.
5. Photos are automatically backed up on the Cloud so your device does not become overloaded with multiple gigs of crayon and glue stick creations.
So there you go. Sounds like a simple app to use and a fun way to save your child’s artwork from preschool all the way through high school. Plus, it’s free! (“For a very limited time” according to the developer.) And here’s where things get confusing. . .
Artkive has twenty-seven reviews on iTunes, and all of them are 5-stars. When I first started using this app, I had a LOT of trouble. The main issue was that everything. . . was. . . really. . . really. . . sloooooooooow. Pictures were slow to load. Deleting photos took forever. Viewing photos was NOT a quick and easy experience. I still have two pictures in my Artkive that say "Pending for Upload." All in all, my initial Artkive experience was very frustrating.
After taking a 2-day break, I decided to give the app another try in the name of thoroughness and fairness. I did have a much better experience. The photos loaded in a reasonable amount of time, and there were no problems. Another reviewer used it on her iPad without difficulty so it may have been a temporary thing with the servers or my own internet connection. The iTunes notes do indicate version 1.1 added the ability to re-sync the library to the server which fixes occasional image loading problems.
Having an easy way to archive artwork and even school essays is a good idea but saving the stuff on the Cloud somewhere is really no better than the corner of the attic. The Artkiveapp.com website indicates there will be an option in the future to create books, mugs and magnets similar to what Shutterfly or other online photo sites offer. Printing is also under development. In the meantime I'd like to see some enhancements to make sharing better. There should be a way to use your artkive and iPad as a digital picture frame. And speaking of frames, an ability to add a mat or stylish frame to the work would be a nice way to make digital viewing even better.
Sooooo, where does that leave things? Well, Artkive is free (at least for now) and getting some notice in mainstream media, so I'd say, download it, give it a try, and see if you can get rid of those fire hazards full of handprint turkeys, construction paper weavings and self-portraits with the big rakes for hands. And be forewarned if you share your budding Picasso's work with anyone other than grandparents, it may end up featured in the hilarious collection found in I Am Better Than Your Kids with a big fat F.
Allison Kelly's own children are of the furry variety but she knows her away around a glue stick as she teaches a third grade classroom full of artists. Jill Goodman contributed to this review. smartappsforkids.com was paid a priority-review fee to complete this review in an expedited manner.