Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Photo Stream, why so complicated?

Stuck between the Dropbox that was and the iCloud that isn't yet

Since the day I got my first Mac, I have greatly disliked iPhoto. In theory, it's an excellent application, but in practice, it's a slow unstable mess. The Mac, iPhone, and iPad are all excellent devices for viewing and editing photos in and of themselves, but why is it nearly impossible for all three of them to work together? And, more importantly, what should Apple do to improve the experience?

In theory, iPhoto for Mac is an incredible app. With it, you can organize your photos by Faces, Places, or Events and create albums. You can edit your photos with professional tools and apply effects. You can also share you photos directly to email, Facebook, and Flickr, create slideshows, and design books and cards to printed and delivered to your front door. And if you enable Photo Steam on your iPhone and iPad, all your photos will magically appear on your Mac.

Sounds amazing, right? Unfortunately, not quite.

I can go into great detail about how iPhoto for Mac always requires me to force quit upon initial launch; how Events makes my head spin; how Faces doesn't work as good as I'd like, and how I get confused about whether I need to import photos off my iPhone if I have a bunch of Photo Stream albums. Oh, and how iPhoto is the laggiest app on my Mac.

I could tell you all about these things, but instead I want to focus on iPhoto and Photo Stream in relation to all three devices: iPhone, iPad, and Mac, and how they don't work nearly as well together as they should.

On the surface, Photo Stream is awesome. All the photos I take with an iOS device automagically appear on my iPhone, iPads, and Macs. It makes sense, then, that since iPhoto is installed on all my devices, that those libraries should stay in sync through Photo Stream, right? Wrong.

Then there's the confusion of having both Camera Roll and Photo Stream. I understand that the Camera Roll stores all the photos taken locally with that device, but why do it this way? It gets confusing having the same photos in two places (or more, if you create albums), and it's even more confusing when it's time to import those photos into iPhoto on your Mac. Did Photo Stream already bring them to my Mac? And what about videos? Wait, Photo Stream doesn't stream videos. Bummer.

I believe the biggest hurdle that Apple would need to overcome to change this is the restriction of 1000 photos in Photo Stream at any given time. I already pay for more iCloud storage, so why not include iPhoto storage in that? I'd even be willing to pay an additional subscription for unlimited photo storage that worked seamlessly on all my Apple devices through iPhoto.

Developer and entrepreneur Peter Nixey shares the same sentiment as me and has come up with some great solutions for Apple. These include to store a canonical copy of iPhoto library in the cloud and and to charge for this service, to merge Camera Roll and Photo Stream into a single stream, to create an API for iCloud camera roll that can be connected to any camera, and to bring the iTunes magic to iPhoto; make it fast; make it clever; make it magical.

I completely agree.

What about you? Are you satisfied with how Photo Stream and iPhoto currently work, or do you want more? What would you like to see apple do with Photo Stream and iPhoto?

Source: Peter Nixey



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