How To Capture And Record An iPhone Or iPad Screen Video?

You’re ready to create an iPhone app promo video for your upcoming app? Or maybe you’d like to display a video inside an iPhone on your app website? Sometimes the only way to show how your app works is to actually record what’s going on and capture the iPhone screen as a video. You can then use the video as it is or go further and showcase it in an animated video to give a feeling of “real-life” usage.

Althought it might get a little technical, I feel like this info is all spread up everywhere as new solutions were created and I believe it’s a good idea to do a wrap-up. So here are a few ways to do it.

Option 1: Using the iPhone or iPad simulator on your Mac

The most known (maybe because it was the first one) way to do a screencast of an app is probably to use the iPhone/iPad simulator on your Mac, while recording your screen with a tool like ScreenFlow, Camtasia Studio, iShowU, or Jing.
That way, you can either record your whole screen or a specific screen region (the inside of the iPhone or iPad for example). Using a tool like SimFinger, you can add a little nub on top of the video to show where the “taps” on the screen are made. It also allows you to display fake apps on the home screen along yours, a new carrier text and adds a shine to the iPhone. SimFinger seems to have been updated for the iPhone 4.

Option 2: Record directly from your iPhone or iPad

This one will require you to jailbreak your iPhone. By downloading a paid app ($4.99) called “Display Recorder” on Cydia, you can easily record your device’s screen. Several options allow you to define the video/audio format (cannot record system audio), the framerate (on a scale, you can’t actually choose which framerate you’re using) , whether to show “taps” (a circle that highlights where the taps are done) or if the phone is used in portrait or landscape mode.

Once the video of your app is recorded you can either upload it directly to YouTube or access it via an IP address if your device and computer are connected to the same WIFI network.

The quality depends on the mobile device resolution and I assume on how fast the device is (for better framerate). With display recorder you can capture iPhone and iPad screen videos with a pretty good quality. However, it can lag especially for games.

Here are a few examples of iPhone and iPad video captures from Display Recorder :

Display recorder on iPhone 4S

Display recorder on iPad 2
Display recorder on iPhone 4

Option 3/4/5: Mirror the iPhone or iPad screen and record

This is definitely not the easiest or cheapest way, but it will allow you to record higher quality iPhone or iPad screen videos.

Mirror using Apple’s Digital AV Adapter ($39)

If you have one of the following devices, you can use Apple’s Digital AV Adapter which is a cable you plug on your device on one end and to an HDMI-compatible display or card on the other end (see “Record what’s mirrored” section below).

devices for recording iPad and iPhone screens
The video output shows exactly what’s on the screen and mirrors it, with a couple of exceptions. For example, if you’re showing the video, it will then show the video full screen. Same thing goes with a keynote presentation and other third party apps that have a presentation mode for the video output.
Note : You could also use the VGA Adapter ($29), but be aware that you will only be able to mirror slideshows and videos to a display.

Mirror using Apple TV (109€) and AirPlay

An alternative to the Adapter is using the Apple TV and AirPlaying what’s on your device.

Record what’s mirrored

This can be the tricky part. It’s nice to be able to mirror your iPhone or iPad screen on a display for a presentation, but if you actually need the video you need to record it. There are two main possibilities: either you can record what’s showing on your screen using a DVR or a Blu-ray recorder, or you can use an HDMI capture card that you install on the capturing computer. For the latter, you can choose a card like the Grass Valley ADVC HD50 (which is compatible with both Macs AND PCs) or another device that can take HDMI as an input like the Matrox MX02 mini card (about $500, for Macs OR PCs). You then have to use a video recording program.
Another card, for which I wasn’t able to get feedback is the Black Magic card.

What about quality? From the iPad you can get 720pHD or 1080p HD (720p HD from iPhone > 4) but so far the HDMI cards video outputs are limited to 720p or 1080i. This is as good as it can get, though.

If you want video explanations, here are two links:

How to Record the Screen of an iPad 2 or Android Tablet – No Jailbreaking or Rooting
iPad Video Screen Capture

Some examples:

X220 laptop recording HDMI output of iPad2 (just feel like I have to clarify..that’s not me!)

Mirror and record using the Reflector (ex Reflection) app and your Mac or PC

Reflector App

Last but not least, you can mirror your iPhone or iPad screen on your Mac or PC desktop by downloading the Reflector app ($12.99 or $54.99 depending on the license). It works wirelessly : no cable, no jailbreaking your device. And it captures audio too.

You will need to have an iPad 2, iPad 3 or iPhone 4S and the good thing is you can record directly from the Reflector app. Make sure you adjust the settings for the device you’re using (iPhone/iPad).

The people behind the Reflector app told me that it should record at the same quality you’re mirroring at. The frame rate might not be as good as using and HDMI card (probably won’t be enough for a game or an app using a lot of resources), but it is a way cheaper.

The Reflector app for Mac is more advanced than the one for PC, but both work well if your computer is fast enough.

Some examples:

Reflector App Test

Reflector vs intensity

As you can see, there are many ways of recording an iPhone or iPad screen video (and man, that was a long post!). Now you just have to choose one based on your needs and the quality you need…And your budget, of course.

You might also be interested in checking out these tips on how and where you can use your video to promote your app.

And if you need an affordable and professional-looking promo video for your appwe’d be happy to discuss it and produce one for you. We spend hours and days making sure we create videos using the best screencasts possible (we use HDMI) for iPhone, iPad or Android Smartphones. Check out the example below for iPad.

What is your favorite way of doing an iPhone or iPad screencast? We spent some serious time on researching the subject to be as thorough as possible, so don’t hesitate to leave us a comment if we forgot anything!

9 June,2014
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