For the past couple of years, I've watched Canva change the way that companies prepare high-quality ads, infographics and presentations.  (Note: Canva's Chief Evangelist is the bestselling author and favorite Guy Kawasaki.)

This time, I think they've come up with an upgrade so creative and timely that it may very well change the way you think about business apps. Let me explain.

The original Canva product has a "graphics arts" feel to it. You start working with it and you immediately start thinking in terms of printed posters and splash page ads. As such, the bigger the screen, the more fun you can with Canva. It's good on a laptop, too, but it's fantastic when you're running it (as I do) on a 27" Retina display.

That's where this new iOS version of Canva comes in.  Rather than imitating the original environment on a smaller screen, they've created an app that feels incredibly natural on a phone. I've played around with it for about a day now and what struck me most about Canva iOS is that it had an "augmented reality" flavor to it, much like Pokemon Go.

As I see it, what's cool about Pokemon Go is that it blends the real world with a digital world in a way that lets you accomplish your goal--to catch them all!

Similarly, what's cool about Canva iOS is that it blends the real world with the digital world of stock photography and high quality graphics so that you can accomplish business goals--like creating spectacularly cool blog posts and presentations while you're waiting in line or participating in a live event.

For example, when you're creating something (like timeline post or a presentation) you can instantly and seamlessly mix just-taken photos, archived photos and stock photography from the web. Rather than taking a photo and then allowing you to apply text (every photo app does that), with Canva, you create text and then see where it will appear via your live camera view.

That sounds like a minor change but actually it's huge because it allows you to create images that are immediately branded to fit with your corporate or branding message. This allows you take photos at an event and post them immediately to your social media with all the essentials intact.  If the photo gets copied, it carries your message along with it.

Another "why didn't anyone think of this before" feature is the ability to create graphics (either from photos or other sources) that adapt automatically to different social media services as well as presentations. 

For example, if your preferred format is 1x1 for Instagram, 2x1 for Twitter, and 16x9 for your presentations, the app adapts your graphics to look good at each format. Anyone who's done this by hand knows what a hassle it can be and having your phone (!!!) do it automatically is like putting a graphics art department in your pocket.

To show you how easy this app is, here's photo of my video editing computer, which crashed over the weekend.  It took be about 5 seconds to turn it into something visually more interesting than a open PC chassis:

Had I been so inclined, I could have easily taken a bunch of pictures, including selfies of me pulling my hair out in frustration, and turned my woes into a presentation or a blog post.  Not today, though, because this post isn't about tech hassles.

I mention them, because I planned to do a video of me using Canva on my iPhone but now I don't have my video editing machine, so I'll have post this generic video instead (skip to 0:25 to get to the demo):


Seriously, Canva for the iPhone is great app. It may not be as fun as Pokemon Go, but it's about as close as any business app is going to get.