Timeline 3D for iOS – Create elegant and stylish timelines on your iPad or iPhone
Download Timeline 3D (FREE!)
Download Timeline 3D: Education Edition ($9.99)
Today’s app is Timeline 3D for iOS, a simple and elegant app for creating visually interesting timelines with text, images, and videos.
Timeline 3D is developed by a small, independent software company called BEEDOCS based in Seattle.
The developer, Adam Behringer, credits the MacLaw Yahoo! e-mail listserv for inspiring him to develop the original Timeline 3D software application for Macs back in 2005.
In November 2012, Adam released the Timeline 3D app for iOS which was groundbreaking for the way it looked on the iPad and iPhone.
Adam would release some minor updates in the following years, but largely fell silent about the app.
Until last month (July 2017), when Adam released a brand new version of the app with some magnificent enhancements.
Now I’m going to say up front that Timeline 3D for iOS is NOT the most customizable or flexible app. There are only limited ways to tweak the colors and fonts of your timelines on the iPad/iPhone, and there are a few minor inconveniences when using the app.
But IN SPITE of any of those shortcomings, I STILL highly recommend this app. It is truly one of the most elegant and stylish apps I have on my iPad.
I’m not the only fan – attorney David Sparks, aka MacSparky also likes it!
Creating a Timeline & Themes
Each timeline has events. Each event should contain, at the very least, a title and a “start date.” Beyond that, you can also add text notes, images/videos, and tags.
The colors of your text and background are determined by the “Screen Theme” you select, which can be changed by tapping the “Configure” button.
I don’t normally go for funky color choices and usually stay fairly conservative when presenting information, but in Timeline 3D I find myself preferring the “Cherry Pie” Screen Theme because I think the color contrast of the text & background works the best.
But you should absolutely test out the themes for yourself to find what works best for you.
You can also select a specific “Print Theme” for when you print your timeline. Your choices are Black & White, Color, and Grayscale.
Adding a New Event
Creating a new event presents you with a box to add the Title and a Start Date. You can also add an End Date. Each event allows you to add a “Custom Date Label” so that you can write something like “Several months in 2015” or “Early 2017.”
The color picker here only offers the colors available from your Screen Theme but what you select here determines the color of your text in each event.
You can add Notes but I would strongly caution you to keep it short here. This is NOT a medium to share paragraphs of information. If it’s more than 2-3 sentences Timeline 3D will cut off your text in the interest of making the timeline more readable (although you can change this setting).
You can also add Tags, which can be helpful in searching for a set of related events. And you can also add a URL so you can jump to a web page, or even a file that’s loaded into Dropbox or Google Drive that will pull up in Safari on the iPad.
Adding Images or Videos
Lastly, and I think MOST importantly, you can add an image or video to make each event in your timeline more memorable. Tapping the “Add Media” link opens a list of sources. You can pull an image or video from your iPad’s photo roll, or you can pull a picture or video from your iCloud Drive, Dropbox, Box, or even other apps like PDF Expert (although adding a PDF file only shows the first page of the PDF).
Unfortunately, you can’t zoom into an image in presentation mode, so if there is a specific section of a document that you want to highlight, you should crop it out as a separate image before you add it to the event here.
If you have a PDF or PowerPoint presentation, remember you can export the pages or slides as individual images.
Present Your Masterpiece!
Now comes the exciting part! When you’re ready, just tap the Play triangle at the bottom left. Timeline 3D takes a few seconds to render the images of your timeline. The result is worth it, but we are lawyers, which means we get impatient. Just be sure you test this out so that it doesn’t catch you off guard – no one likes dead air when they’re giving a presentation.
The best advice I can give here is just to keep your timeline to a minimum. Don’t try to squeeze everything into your timeline. My general rule of thumb is to have less than 20 items in each timeline. If you need more than that, consider creating separate timelines or going with another application.
But once everything is rendered, you get a beautiful 2D timeline with all your events displayed.
When you tap a specific event and you watch the whole timeline shift into 3D mode … and fly into that event to bring it into perspective. It’s gorgeous. You can swipe your finger to the left or right to go to the next or previous event, each with a smooth-as-butter transition.
When you have an external monitor or projector connected to the iPad, the timeline shows on the external monitor or projector, but you only see a list of your events on your iPad screen. Tapping an event zooms the projected timeline to that event. Tapping an image or video should show that media in full-screen mode.
Even better, if you do a search of your events for a tag that you added, or a word you used in the events, only those events show up in your list while the full event list is still showing on your external screen. You can tap on your filtered events and jump around the timeline that way.
Exporting Your Timeline
The newest version of Timeline 3D for iOS also added a few more options for exporting your timeline.
First, you can “Print” or “Share PDF” of the 2D “flat” version of the timeline – formatted to a single page. The PDF can be sent over to an app like PDF Expert.
Second, you can export a “Slideshow” in PowerPoint format (PPTX) that can either be opened in Microsoft PowerPoint or Keynote on a Mac. Each event becomes a separate slide that can now be incorporated into a larger presentation.
You can also export a “Movie” which keeps all those smooth-as-butter animations intact.
Two Versions of Timeline 3D for iOS
There are now two versions of the Timeline 3D iOS app in the App Store. There’s a free version now to give you a nice taste of the app, but all of the export options for PDF, slideshows, and movies are in-app purchases. Nevertheless, this is a great way for you to test out the app to ensure it works for your needs before making a financial commitment.
The in-app purchases end up costing you a little more than $9.99, which is what the pay-up-front Timeline 3D: Education Edition app costs with everything already unlocked. If you like anything you’ve seen so far, then I suggest just getting the Education Edition, but try the free version if you’re still on the fence.
My Short Wish List
I’ve got a short wish-list for BEEDOCS:
- I wish there was a date picker for each event rather than having me manually type each date
- I wish I could pinch-zoom the images once they’re in full screen
- I wish I could change the fonts and colors to my own custom liking (which is possible in the Mac version of Timeline 3D)
These are all minor and honestly adding them would bulk up the app. And again, even with my short wish-list, I STILL highly recommend this app if you ever have a need to show a simple timeline to your colleagues, students, clients, courtroom, etc.
It’s such an elegant app and does what it does so well.
Download Timeline 3D (FREE!)
Download Timeline 3D: Education Edition ($9.99)