We can see what Canopy intended with the Kapok package, and the case/tripod mount/software combination is certainly a neat idea in principle. Unfortunately though, it’s all hugely undermined by Apple’s incoming iOS 5 update. Not only does this promise to deliver a dedicated camera-phone activation button on the iPhone’s lock screen, but will also, and perhaps more significantly, allow one of the iPhone’s ‘volume’ buttons to be used as a physical shutter button.
This alone somewhat diminishes the very raison d’ëtre of the Kapok. A small ray of hope does remain, however, in that Canopy is giving away the SDK for free, thereby giving developers the chance to make third-party apps that can utilise the Kapok’s physical buttons in other ways. Sadly, to date this invitation appears to have been completely overlooked, with only the one aforementioned Canopy app available.
Ultimately, if the Kapok is to survive as a viable product Canopy desperately needs some enterprising third-party developers (or perhaps its own in-house dev team) to create some alternative apps that can take advantage of the Kapok’s physical buttons in other, interesting ways. It’s worth noting that the Canopy app can also be used (and works perfectly well) without the dedicated Kapok case. Not something that’s going to help drive sales, we suspect.
Looking at the case itself, well, it’s certainly solid enough. Constructed from a hardened plastic it’ll doubtless provide protection from accidental knocks, drops and scrapes. Easy to lock together, it’s also comes apart without any great fuss should you want to remove your iPhone.
In order that the encased iPhone can talk to the Kapok’s buttons, the case has a standard 30-pin Apple connector built into its base. This adds about three-quarters of an inch to the overall length of the case. In addition, at just under half an inch, the side that houses the two physical buttons isn’t particularly thin either. Overall, the Kapok is undeniably chunky. It’ll still fit in a trouser pocket, just about, but it’s far from subtle.
One final thing that needs to be mentioned is that while the mini USB port on the bottom of the Kapok can be used to charge an encased iPhone, it cannot be used to move files onto the phone via iTunes. To do that you'll need to remove your phone from the Kapok and hook it up in the normal way.
Timing is everything in technology – if you want to be successful, you have stay ahead of the curve. Sadly, the Kapok finds itself some way behind that curve. While it isn’t a badly made product per se, we doubt that many iPhone owners will want to shell out £37 ($60) in return for some physical camera-phone buttons, especially given that iOS 5 will eventually deliver pretty much the same thing, and without the need for a cumbersome case either. If you have a specific interest in creating time-lapse videos then the Kapok will hold some serious appeal, otherwise it remains a bit of a non-starter – at least while there are no other third-party apps for it.