Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day…

…For Teaching ELL, ESL, & EFL

Excellent Phone Apps For Taking Photos With Audio Descriptions


This week in class I’m going to start taking photos (and have students taking photos) using iPhone apps that let you provide an accompanying audio commentary.

The best app for this kind of excellent speaking practice exercise is Fotobabble. The web version is already on The Best Sites To Practice Speaking English list, and I’m adding the phone app there, too. You take a photo, provide an up-to-one minute commentary, and then can share it several ways. You can email it to yourself, too, where you are provided a link to it on the Fotobabble site. You’re given the opportunity to re-record if you don’t like how it sounds on the first try, and you can make other changes to it, too. It also provides the option to embed, as I have done with this quick experiment (a photo of one of our dogs, Lola):

Another option, which was launched this week at the SXSW conference in Austin this week, is an app called Picle. It only gives you ten seconds of commentary, but you can choose to have it record at the same time you’re taking the photo or afterwards. It doesn’t offer an embed option, but you can link to it on the Picle website. It also doesn’t appear to give you an opportunity to re-record if you’re not satisfied with your first try. Here’s a sample – again of Lola.

I’d definitely vote for Fotobabble. However, since Picle is new, I assume they’ll be making lots of improvements in the future.

In addition to adding both to “The Best…” speaking list, I’m adding them to The Best Sites For Beginning iPhone Users Like Me.

Author: Larry Ferlazzo

I'm a high school teacher in Sacramento, CA.


  1. “for beginning iphone users like me” made me laugh
    Beginning iphone user – OK
    like you…. well not exactly 😉
    Thanks again for all your tips, will try to get up to speed in this new field;-)

  2. It’s a pity we don’t have anything like that in the Android world!

    I keep my 10 year old Fujifilm Finepix s602 zoom precisely for this option (actually purchsed several used ones as a backup since they don’t make cameras with this feature anymore). On this camera, you can set it to take a picture and record up to a 30 seconds wav file afterwards with possibility to re-record, the sound and an picture can then be played on players that have the option to play audio along the picture, such as Thumbs Plus. Great for descriptive records!

    I can see a big problem in the future as our descendants peruse our multi-gigagbyte picture collection and ask themselves what the hell the subject in the picture is! Imagine the cultural loss! I really can’t understand why this essential feature isn’t on EVERY camera… Thanks for keeping the subject alive!

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