Three Solutions for Combining Videos from Multiple iPads

Who’d have thought it could be so difficult?

A couple of weeks ago I ran an iPad workshop for teachers.  One of the participants, Judith, raised an interesting problem that stumped me.  I promised to find her a solution.  This blog post represents the fulfilment of that promise.

The Problem

Judith wanted to be able to have several students record video on their own iPads, then copy those separate videos to one student’s iPad and there, combine into a single file in iMovie.  That doesn’t sound like it would be too hard, now, does it?

The problem it turns out is that you can’t get a video into iMovie unless it is in the iPad’s camera roll.  Getting a video into the cameral roll is (stunningly) problematic.  Copying it into iMovie via iTunes’ File Sharing window on a computer doesn’t work. Neither does emailing it from one iPad to another.  You can of course send the video to an iPad via email, Dropbox, GoodReader, Documents, File Storage or any one of a number of other apps – but this doesn’t get it into the camera roll – which means you can watch the video in the app that contains it – but it doesn’t show up in iMovie.

I spent several hours on Google and Apple’s support forums, etc.  That got me nowhere.

Twitter got me further.  In fact a number of my tweeps were very helpful and offered suggestions that worked.   Many of these, however did require the use of a computer as an intermediary between the two iPads.   I was really looking for a way for two students equipped with iPads only, to share their videos.

Since then, I have done a bit more experimentation myself (and purchased numerous apps).  Out of all that, I present what I consider the best three solutions.  Each works well and each has advantages and disadvantages.

1. BOX

(Kudos to Heather Bailie @hebailie for this)   This was the first solution suggested that worked! is very like DropBox. Students can upload their videos to their free Box accounts via the Box app and share them with each other.  They can then download each others’ videos to their own box account and then in Box there is an option to save the video to the photo roll on the iPad (this option is not available in DropBox and others).  Once it is there on the camera roll it will be visible within iMovie.

Advantage:  It’s free.

Disadvantage: The video data is uploaded and downloaded via the internet, which makes the process slow and since videos tend to be large files, this will also be an issue for the bandwidth-impaired.


Mr. Barlow @mrbarlow suggested a stirling solution which is to use the Apple iPad camera connection kit.  For $35 this stupidly overpriced little piece of plastic lets you connect a Digital camera to your iPad and transfer your photos to your iPad’s camera roll.   The nifty thing Mr Barlow pointed out is that this also works between two iPads.  In other words, you can connect one iPad to another and transfer the photos and videos from the camera roll of the first to that of the second.  That works very well, and is very fast.


Advantages:  It’s fast.  It works simply, without installing anything or setting anything up.

Disadvantages:  You have to buy the connector for $35.  Only one pair of students can use it at a time.  It’s so diminutive an item that you are likely to lose it.  If some of your students have iPad 3 and some have iPad 4 or iPad mini you will also need to buy a lightning to 30-pin adaptor (another $35) – bringing the total cost to $70.

3. Photo Transfer WiFi

Just this week Simplex Solutions released an awesome new app – Photo Transfer WiFi that is exactly what I was looking for! This really nice universal app is just $2.99.  Once the app is installed and open on two iPads, they see each other, once their passwords are shared, the two can simply send photos and videos to each others’ camera rolls.  It’s a thing of beauty and simplicity.   Unlike using the Box solution, it doesn’t send the files through the internet – so it’s much faster.  And unlike the Apple Camera Connector Kit, several groups can be doing this at the same time.


Advantages:  It’s fast.  It doesn’t use the internet, just WiFi.  It’s got a very intuitive interface (unlike many other apps I tried).  It’s affordable.

Disadvantages: There really are none – except that it’s not free.  But this developer deserves every cent he earns.

If you have another solution, I’d sure love to hear about it.  Please share it in the comments below.

16 thoughts on “Three Solutions for Combining Videos from Multiple iPads

  1. I just tweeted you about the next iOS, but I checked on my iPad which still has the old iOS. When you receive an emailed video, in the top right corner is an arrow, one of the options is save video. It then appears in Camera Roll. Tested and works.

    • You are quite right! – there is save video option in the action menu of the email that contains the video. I had completely missed that (where were you a couple of weeks ago?? lol). That is very good to know and very helpful. I still prefer options 2 and 3 above because emailing the video is going to be slow and use a lot of bandwidth – an 8 second video is 1 MB. But this option is easier than using the option. Thanks for contributing!

  2. There’s also a free app called bump. You can transfer photo’s, video’s… whatever you like if the two devices are in the same physical proximity. Both devices will use whatever network they are connected to (wifi or cellular) to transfer the file. If a photo or video is selected, then it is transferred to the other devices camera roll. It is an iPhone app, but works equally well with the iPad. Just tested it between an iPhone and an iPad just to be sure.

  3. Another great suggestion. I had forgotten about Bump – that’s a free app too. Thanks for that suggestion Zoe.

  4. Pingback: Photo Transfer WiFi Application Features

  5. Yep we now recommend Instashare to our students. Works on any iPad, even older ones. It also enables photos to be be shared from iPad to Mac, something that Airdrop doesn’t even do!

    • amazing right? that Apple has AirDrop on Mac and AirDrop on iOS but the two don’t talk to each other – hopefully that is just a temporary situation … I mean they *must* have thought about making them work together – surely!

      I looked at instashare … and it seems to work as you say – but the Mac application is $5.00. Not too bad in an iPad classroom since only the teacher might need to use the Mac app – and the iPad app is free. Photo Transfer Wifi though makes you pay for the iOS app and you don’t need an app on a computer – you just use a website. The cost is about the same if you are setting it up for your own devices but the great advantage of Instashare is that you don’t have to ask your students to pay for the app – which means that as long as you are prepared to pay for the Mac app yourself, you can start using it right away with your students. The workflow seems faster in Instashare, too. (especially between iOS and Mac)

      I prefer the interface of Photo Transfer Wifi better though… but that is just a personal preference and the efficiency of the workflow in Instashare has converted me.

  6. Hi Andrew,
    I am reading your post quite a long time after it was written so this may be a new feature.
    Upload the videos to Dropbox from the iPads they were made on.
    Watch them in Dropbox on the iPad you want to download them onto.
    Press the star to make them a favourite – which saves them locally on the iPad.
    Go to the favourites folder, select the video and press share.
    You now have the option to save the video straight to your camera roll.

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