Text messaging has become one of the best ways to reach people without resorting to a phone call, but standard text messages are boring. That’s fine for communicating everyday things, like last-minute shopping list additions and arrival times, but what happens if you bump into Bruce Campbell at breakfast, win the lottery or just want a particular message to stand out?
Ultratext, a free app for the iPhone and iPad, spices up traditional text messages by taking sentences and turning them into colorful animated GIFs to send off to friends, family members and acquaintances.
Users type a sentence into the app, and Ultratext automatically creates one frame in the GIF for each word in the sentence. Each frame is assigned a random background and text color, though users can choose to tweak them as they see fit. People who want to add an additional visual flourish or two can also include photos that they shot inside an Ultratext GIF.
After that, users just hit “Enter” on Ultratext’s keyboard, and it generates a preview of the resulting animated GIF. Users who don’t want to share it right away can leave the app and get back to the GIFs they’ve created in the past by tapping on a button in the upper-left-hand corner of the composition screen.
By default, Ultratext will append a message that says “Made with Ultratext for iOS” message to anything a user sends directly from the app. It’s not the worst thing in the world, but I find it to be annoying. Thankfully, it’s possible to remove the ad with a 99 cent in-app purchase.
While the app is primarily designed to share the resulting GIFs through text messages, Ultratext integrates with a number of other services. Users can save their product to their device as an animated GIF or video, and share it via email, WhatsApp, and a handful of other services.
If there’s one limitation to Ultratext, it’s that there’s no way control text size within the app, aside from writing in longer or smaller words. Because all of the text is automatically sized, short words like “Yes” can be awkwardly large, while longer words can be almost unreadably small.
Also, I would hope this goes without saying, but people who don’t like rapidly changing GIFs and flashing blocks of color will probably hate Ultratext’s default behavior. It’s possible to manually force the app to use the same background and text color for every frame so only the text’s content changes, but I found the process of doing that cumbersome.
Overall, Ultratext is a fun way to spice up what would ordinarily be a boring message. I’m always on the lookout for cool apps that do one thing well, and Ultratext certainly qualifies.
Ultratext is available for free with a 99 cent in-app purchase from the iOS App Store.