Quirky New iOS Camera App Gives Your Photos Witty Captions

Frank Said What? is an amazing new iOS camera app that can accurately describe any photo you show it. It’s not just smart, it’s witty too: “Frank” will usually give your photographs humorous captions. Some will make you smile, while others will make you laugh out loud.

Here’s how the app works. Once you install it and open it up, you’ll be asked to sign in via either Twitter or Facebook. Once inside, you can either browse the captioned photos of other users or snap/choose your own photograph for automatic captioning.

Once Frank has it, he’ll need to think about it for a while. In a few minutes, you’ll receive a push notification informing you that Frank has completed his task. When you’ve had your laugh, you can share it with friends through various social networking channels.

So what are the resulting captioned photos like? Here are some favorites that we’ve come across so far:

If you’re wondering how the app works, we’re not sure. The makers, a company called Terrarium, keeps its explanation pretty vague:

The secret to Frank’s magnetism? Instead of randomly assigning pre-written captions, Frank looks at every photo and writes an individual response. Even we are surprised from time to time by the things that Frank says. The end result is the perfect mash-up of Instagram and your favorite meme.

The captions are too witty and too accurate to be computer generated. This also means that the caption-writing isn’t just open to any random user, since that would lead to a high rate of poor-quality captions (e.g. nonsensical ones, spam, sentences with typos).

We’re guessing the app’s secret sauce is something similar to what Descriptive Camera does. That device sends images off to Amazon’s Mechanical Turk, a crowd-sourcing service that pays human volunteers to do mountains of grunt work. Frank is (currently) free-to-download and free-to-use, though, so it seems unlikely that Terrarium is paying money for the captioning.

Even though we can’t explain the mojo, the app is a fantastic idea — one that you should definitely try out for yourself.

Frank Said What? (via Photojojo)

Update: The secret is in fact Amazon’s Mechanical Turk. They must be burning through money…

Update: Looks like they were burning through cash. The app is now no longer functional/available. Sorry guys.

  • Samcornwell

    Downloaded, installed, signed in and tried but it’s not working my end. I’m just stuck with a message saying “I’ll be with you shortly…” and have been or ten minutes. Maybe someone else will have more luck. Maybe PetaPixel have just overwhelmed their servers :-)

  • Johnny_iowa

    Just downloaded the app right now, and caption quality, grammar-wise, seems to be declining… :(

  • JC

    I was able to run one through, not bad at all. “I’m not even gonna’ front”.. I like this app. :)

  • JJ

    So far, 2 funny comments, 2 one-worded answers and a ‘flagged as inappropriate’ comment for a photo of a dinosaur in a garden. So far so good.

  • 9inchnail

    What if I told you that “Frank” is just an actual guy with too much time on his hands living in his parents’ basement somewhere in Brooklyn?

  • Toomas KAdarpik

    … Nicely dressed woman, she is beauty and charming. The app is grate idea.

  • Michael Zhang

    If you haven’t enabled push notifications, you’ll probably need to manually refresh it using that button in the upper right :)

  • Derek Mellott

    Most of the captions I see are not funny and clearly written by someone whose native language is not English. I have now been waiting 45mins for a caption. The wait isnt a big deal but they must be super busy.

  • Terry

    Really? With all of the “native” English speakers making horrible mistakes on the internet all the time, you can tell if someone is native from the captions you got?

  • guest

    funny how so many native english-speakers suck at the only language they know (sadly, myself included).

    my mum–fluent in chinese, russian,and english, with conversational knowledge of german–could do better than most ‘native’ speakers.

  • guest

    frank’s real name? mr. brutsch. the app is just an elaborate attempt to gather more inappropriate images from tweens who don’t realize real people are writing the captions.

  • Kat D

    rypown reader

  • JP Zajackowski

    Apparently the app is down and no more! Boo!

  • Matt Williams

    Well, it appears that Frank is all done. It was cool while it lasted…