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Nixey: 'Dear Apple, Let's Talk About Photos' Tweet This   Forward This

9 May 2013

Rails developer Peter Nixey describes his evolution as a digital photographer in a recent blog post. Using a Mac, it was very simple at the start. "I pulled my photos off my camera on the computer, imported them into iPhoto and arranged them. Life was good."

But then he got an iPhone and never updated his iPhoto library with those images. Before he knew it he had an iPad "which would looked so perfect for curating my iPhoto library." But he couldn't save things back to his desktop iPhoto library.

He tried photo streams, which "put every photo on every device," but still couldn't save them to his desktop iPhoto library. And then he discovered photo streams don't include video.

When he bought a MacBook Air, he discovered seven percent of the flash drive was taken up with photo caches for each device he had.


He figures Apple needs a little help. So he listed five steps Apple can take to manage his photos:

  1. I want the canonical copy of my iPhoto library in the cloud. One iPhoto library in the cloud, many devices with access to it. I want to edit organise and delete photos on any device and see the same changes on all other devices. No master/slave setup -- just straight cloud access.

  2. You can charge me for this. I suggest $5/month. Maybe that's a bit more than it costs you at the moment but that's what I'm prepared to pay and we both know that you'll do very well out of this in the long run. However for that I want unlimited space including for all of my videos. FYI that's not what really I'm paying you for. I'm really paying you for the peace of mind that you've got my memories safe-guarded. I'm technically paying you for insurance. The utility this offers just the carrot that gets me over the hump of paying you.
  3. Get rid of photo streams. Make the camera roll a single photo stream that shows up in iPhoto (on all devices). I want a single camera roll that all devices feed into. I want to take photos, queue them in my camera roll then pull them out as I organise and sort them into my library. Let me explain: photos and videos have two phases 1. on the camera roll 2. in my photo library. Nowhere else.
  4. I'd like you to create [an] API for my iCloud camera roll so any camera I own could hook into it -- I want to be able to buy an SLR with wireless capabilities and simply connect it as a new source to my camera roll.
  5. Make iPhoto on the iPad and the iPhone work well. Make them do clever things to give me fast access to my photos from the cloud. You did it for iTunes, let's bring the magic a second time. Let me harness [the] power of that splendid little device direct from the loo.


In the comments section, Nate Westheimer points Nixey to his free Picturelife, which he described as "an iPhoto integration that makes sense." All your photos are in one place, syncing is simple, you can access the images from anywhere and they can easily be shared.

The iPhoto angle of this discussion is not a place we want to go. Bundling images into a package seemed like a fatal mistake to us years ago (such a misery to back up with Time Machine that you actually have to skip it to do backups).

But the problem of generating images on multiple devices and not having a central repository for them doesn't require iPhoto. We all have the problem to some extent.

Except for video support, Adobe Revel was designed to do precisely what Nixey wants (at least the first three points). It's been free since December 2012 but the premium version (for $5.99 a month) automatically syncs images added to an iPhone or iPad Camera Roll.

The fourth point is a bad idea for two reasons. If you shoot Raw on a high-end dSLR, your WiFi uploads will try your patience. And your patience won't survive. But more importantly, it presumes the cloud as your primary image storage facility. Someone else will back it up. And stay in business as long as you live. Right.

You could achieve point four with an Eye-Fi card aimed at whatever service you wanted to rely on, we suppose, but no service should be relied on. You really do want to manage your own archive.

Now about that fifth point.

If the app has to be iPhoto, well, only Apple can solve that. But Revel already does that and more, providing collaborative image editing that is pretty robust and actually fun. And it tailors its cache to the device it is running on so it feels spry.

Which is only to say there are solutions out there. You just have to wean yourself from iPhoto. Which is what you do when you outgrow something.

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