I don’t have a dog. I used to; in fact my family had loads of pets when I was growing up. Now, with a very busy schedule and a penchant for sleeping in on the weekends, I don’t have the time available to properly look after a dog. That’s why I have lots of cats.
I was introduced to the BarkCam app by one of my workmates who has three doggies, and might have more if she was left to her own devices. Apparently one of the biggest frustrations a dog owner has is trying to get their animal to look at a camera on command so they can take a picture of them. Those of us with cats gave up on this dream a long time ago, as they don’t even look in our direction when we call them, never mind trying to get the perfect moggie portrait.
BarkCam has been designed to capture the attention of a dog, and then quickly snap a photo before Fido gets distracted by something else like food, or a fly, or a ray of light… With a combination of sound and fast camera work, it makes taking pictures of your doggie a breeze. It’s a free app (at the moment), so it makes even more sense to download it. Prepare to flood Facebook with hundreds of images of your favorite pooch.
How it works
This app is so easy to use, a dog could learn how to take a picture of another dog with it. Although it’s been optimized for the iPhone and iPod Touch, you can install it on your iPad as well.
The screen becomes the camera viewfinder, and the bottom menu bar is the trick to the whole business – finding a sound that will grab your dog’s attention. It starts with another dog barking, followed by a knocking on the door, flatulence (not kidding), burping (what kind of dogs are going to be all thrilled to hear these?), the sound of a treats bag being opened, a dog whistle noise that you won’t hear, the scream of a T-Rex (I don’t know about a dog, but that would certainly grab MY attention), two different cat meows, a duck quacking, and a doorbell ring.
So what you’ll need to do is focus your device on your dog, and start going through each sound to see what works. Every time you tap on a sound, and it’s emitted, you’ll hear a camera sound immediately afterward. The app automatically snaps the shot, under the assumption that if your dog does decide to cooperate, it will only be for about a millisecond and you might be all thumbs trying to take the picture yourself. You’ll be so excited that the dog reacts to the sound of a burp that you’ll forget to take a picture.
Once you think you’ve got the image you were looking for, you can tap the drawing of a dog nose in the top left-hand corner to view your gallery, as this app does not automatically save photos to your photo library until you send them there.
I think one of the most interesting options that this app offers is the ability to turn the camera lens around towards the person (or dog) taking the photo. Either there are dogs taking selfies out there, or humans are going to try to take selfies with their dog(s) and need a sound to grab their attention. Fascinating stuff.
Once you’ve got the shot of your dreams, you can go in and start editing it. It isn’t enough that you’ve got a cute shot of your doggie, you can now add sunglasses, a moustache, pipe, bone and other hee-LAY-ree-os items to the picture, change its color, and even add a speech balloon. If you want to embarrass your dog in front of all of his or her friends, this app is a gold mine.
When we tried it
The team here in the Weekender office put this app through rigorous testing, by tracking down dogs owned by colleagues and leading them through countless audio trials. It seems that the runaway favorite was the cat’s meow – literally – although some ears did perk up at the sound of a T-Rex. Again, wouldn’t yours?
We always managed to find one sound that got them to turn towards the camera, and the app captured them nicely. A few were wise to us from the beginning, and managed to turn back before the camera snapped a shot, but the majority got caught. By the end, we had a good rogues’ gallery of large and small dogs.
This app is a no-brainer for animal lovers, as people post about as many photos of their pets as they do their children online. It’s completely free, is fun to use, and you’ll be able to get those elusive pictures of your dog that you’ve been trying to get in vain since puppyhood. The only issue you may run into is a “cry wolf” scenario, where your animals wise up to what you’re doing, and won’t turn their heads no matter what. They’re not stupid. It wouldn’t surprise me if an update to this app includes a whole new range of sounds to get them involved again, although it’s hard to think of anything that can top the symphony that is flatulence. Enjoy.
Pros: Free (until it isn’t). Quick. A fun challenge to see if you can get your dog to cooperate.
Cons: Makes you behave like a crazy person.
- Cost: Free (this could change)
- Seller: BarkBox, Inc
- Devices: iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad
- Rating: E10+ (Everyone 10 and older)
- Three stars