How to Record Screencast Videos on your iPad or iPhone

Whether you are an app developer building iOS apps and games or a tech blogger who likes to review such apps, what you definitely want is a screencasting tool that will help you easily record video demos, or screencast movies, of your mobile app.

Now there are tons of screencasting apps available for your Windows or Mac desktop but if you wish to capture the screen of your iPad or iPhone, the scene is very disappointing. A search for “screen recorder” or “screencasting” shows zero results in the iTunes app store.

That said, there are ways, or rather workarounds, by which you can capture the screen activity of your iPad or iPhone and convert that into a movie.  Let’s take a look:

Option 1. Create a Screencast Video using Screenshot Images

This is the quick solution. You can capture multiple screenshot images of an app (here’s how) and then stitch them together in one video either using Windows Live Movie Maker or iMovie on your Mac. This is how I created the following video screencast of an iPad.

If you would like to make your screencasting appear more natural, put all these different screenshot images in a PowerPoint slideshow, run it in Full-screen mode and then use Camtasia or any other screencasting software to record that slideshow. The advantage here is that the cursor will also be captured so people will find it easier to follow your video tours or game walkthroughs.

Option 2: Use Display Recorder to Capture your iPhone /iPad Screen

If you have jailbroken your iPad (or iPhone), you can use the Display Recorder utility to record the onscreen activity of your iOS device and save the video as an AVI or MP4 file. The app can also upload your recorded screencast to YouTube directly.

I haven’t tried this Cydia app myself but here’s a move of an iPad screen recorded using Display Recorder. The app doesn’t record system sounds though but you can run another app in parallel for that purpose.

Option 3: Create Screencasts using a Dedicated Video Capture Card

You can easily connect your iPhone or iPad to an external monitor – be it a TV screen or a computer monitor or a projector – using either the HDMI Adapter or the VGA Adapter.

Now instead of connecting the iOS device output directly to an external screen, you can connect it to a capture card and it will then automatically record your iPhone /iPad screen.

AverTV HD and Blackmagic Design are some of the available graphic capture cards that can be used in this kind of setup. The following video by Kelly Rush will walk you through the entire process of recording screencasts on tablets – Android, iPads or anything else - with the help of a capture card.

Also, if you do not wish to open to chassis of your computer to install an internal graphics card, there are other options like Epiphan and UltraStudio 3D. These are external capture devices though you would require a much higher budget for them.

Option 4: Record Screencasts using Whiteboard Apps

If you wish to create simple whiteboard style screencasts where your audio and all you activity on a whiteboard is recorded as a movie, you have some good options including Screenchomp, Explain Everything, ShowMe, Replay Note, Doodlecast Pro and Educreations.

ScreenChomp, Educreations and ShowMe are free apps for the iPad that will help you record Khan Academly style videos. You can create freehand drawings, write text, annotate pictures, and all your activity (including voice) will be recorded in one video.

Explain Everything goes one step further. It has a built-in web browser and anything you do inside that browser is also captured in the video so you be more creative here. You can also import PDF files, PowerPoint slides and other documents into Explain Everything through Dropbox, add voice narrations or annotations and publish them into a movie.

Option 5: Use a Digital Camera to Record App Demos

The trouble with all the above workarounds is that none of them would record your hand gestures.

To get around the problem, the developers of the Denso App recorded their interaction video with the iPad using the iPhone camera (see details). They placed the iPad on a white sheet of paper, added enough lights to get rid of all the shadows and they also placed paper on the lamps to diffuse the harsh light.

It’s an easy setup and end result is much like the various iPad /iPhone demos that you see on Apple website. The following video from the DoodleCast team explains a similar setup that also uses an iPhone camera to record iPad videos – the key here is good lighting.

Option 6: Record Screencasts of your iPad or iPhone using AirPlay

I saved the best option for the last. Download and install the Reflector app and it will wirelessly mirror your iPhone or iPad screen  on to your desktop live. You don’t have to install any additional software on your iOS device, no cables are involved and there’s no jailbreaking required either - the only requirement is that your iPad / iPhone and the destkop should be part of the same home network.

Once the iPad or iPhone screen is beamed on to your desktop, you can use any of existing screencasting utilities - like Camtasia Studio or ScreenFlow – to automatically capture a video while you work on the iPhone or iPad. That’s easy and very convenient.

Reflector is available for both Mac and Windows PCs. Here’s a screencast video of an iPad that I recorded using the Reflector app on a Mac. This is what you have been waiting for!

Also see: How To Record your Computer Video Games

Amit Agarwal

Amit Agarwal

Google Developer Expert, Google Cloud Champion

Amit Agarwal is a Google Developer Expert in Google Workspace and Google Apps Script. He holds an engineering degree in Computer Science (I.I.T.) and is the first professional blogger in India.

Amit has developed several popular Google add-ons including Mail Merge for Gmail and Document Studio. Read more on Lifehacker and YourStory


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