Dear Apple: Please add decent mobile control over MobileMe photo galleries

As a MobileMe subscriber I enjoy using the Gallery for photos. I think the interface and options for viewing photos in the galleries is beautiful. However, every time I maintain the site I can’t help but be frustrated at the lack of control Apple provides. The only real control comes via the Mac using iPhoto or Aperture. And even then, photos placed on the galleries have less utility than on the desktop. 

The Mac

With Aperture or iPhoto you can create albums for upload and sync to MobileMe. You can add or delete photos and the albums stay in sync. You can add new albums, drag and drop photos between them, and any keywords or star ratings added to photos in a MobileMe album work just like any other album.

Unfortunately, once you get off the Mac some of this data is not used, and your ability to make changes are reduced drastically. 

The Web

The Gallery interface for MobileMe on the web isn’t too bad. Here you can add/delete albums. You also have some control over albums, but are missing the ability to set privacy or the download quality of the photos (see album settings below, MobileMe on top, iPhoto on bottom). These are important settings, yet they can’t be controlled via the web interface. 

Mme_album
Iphotoalbum

As for photos, you can add/delete, rotate, and drag and drop them among existing albums. Not bad, but there are no other editing controls, no ratings, and no keywords. Further, even if ratings and keywords are used on the Mac, they’re not available on the web interface. You know the keyword searches you can do in Flickr? Yeah, there’s none of that in MobileMe. 

The iPhone

On the iPhone it gets much worse. You cannot use the web interface, instead you’re routed to a page that tells you to load Apple’s Gallery app. The app is beautiful (below) and great for viewing pictures, but that’s all it allows. There’s no facility to edit information or change settings for albums or photos. There’s no upload facility, and not even the ability to delete a photo from an album. Aside from viewing all you can do is email a link to a photo or album. 

Iphone_gallery

It should be noted that a picture viewed in the native Photos app can be uploaded to MobileMe, where you can select an existing album (but not add a new one) and a title/description. Again, no editing, deleting, ratings or keywords are allowed. 

The iPad

Sadly, the iPad is the worst mobile device of all for controlling one’s MobileMe galleries. Like the iPhone, you can’t use the web interface and must download the Gallery app. But the Gallery app has not been upgraded for the iPad, so it’s either very small or very ugly, take your pick.

The Upshot

In short, you have good control of galleries via your Mac, but some of that data isn’t stored online, and when you leave the Mac you’re limited. The Web interface is OK, but lacks privacy controls, and the iPhone/iPad have essentially no controls at all. 

Apple ought to change this. The Gallery app could take some cues from Flickr’s own app, which allows title, description, photoset (including adding a new one), tags, image size, geotag, and privacy level for each upload. Further, it allows editing an existing photo’s title, description, photoset, tags and privacy. It also allows you to delete photos. 

It’s frustrating that real maintenance on my MobileMe galleries requires I get back to a Mac. Frankly, it takes the “mobile” out of MobileMe. It’s no wonder I use Flickr more often. 

Google: You Too Can Be A Developer In The Privacy Of Your Own Home

Not only is the Android Market an open platform for developers (with no approval process, ala the App Store), but now we’ll likely see a vast array of specialized apps built by non-developers. This could radically increase the volume of apps in the Market versus the App Store.

I’ve written about Google’s seeming goal of getting mobile devices on the web instead of running local apps. I outlined some things that could keep Android app quality relatively low: 

  • Fragmentation – Minimal app compatibility, or a lowest common denominator app that can’t take full advantage of a device.
  • Lack of vetting – Lets weak apps through, including potential security risks. 
  • Flash support – Another way of encouraging lowest common denominator apps. 

I wrote “In short, while appearing to do all they can to let as many apps be available as possible, they’ve created a platform to breed lower-quality, inconsistent apps”

If there was any doubt about Google’s desire to have lots of apps while keeping the app experience relatively weak, their latest move should make it clear: they’re letting anyone write apps.

Google’s App Inventor is like a late-night informercial: “Why bother learning a language and coding techniques, now anyone can be a developer with the Develop-O-Matic.” I can see the infomercial endorsements now: “I was skeptical, but I just followed the simple steps provided. As a programmer I make more money each month than I ever dreamed of, and was able to quit my job snaking toilets at Wal-Mart. If I can do it, so can you!”

With everybody and their little brother submitting apps there’s little question Android’s app count will make huge gains. It probably won’t take long before the number exceeds Apple’s App Store, which is something they’re gunning for. And with weak “competition” of local apps like this, Google’s web-based solutions will look that much better, which helps lead people right where Google wants them. 

I have no issue with lots of web and local apps; let everyone decide what works best for them. But what I see is Google poisoning the well from which local apps are drawn. They don’t appear to want a fair fight, and make local apps too difficult (their market place appears to be a mess), generic (soon to include Jr. Developer Kit apps), and risky (potential privacy or security issues) so web apps look far superior by comparison.

Google is completely open except when they’re not

Like any company, Google is open in what doesn’t make them money and proprietary as heck in what does. Android is open (under the Apache license, not GPL — which should give the philosophical FOSSies pause) but Google certainly hasn’t opened their search or AdWords platforms. Likewise Apple open sources WebKit (which Google uses for their browser) and OpenCL and Grand Central and FaceTime, but keeps their crown jewels equally closed. So enough already with the open stuff. You give me free services so you can mine my data, I sell my soul to you to use them. Deal. Just don’t insult my intelligence while doing it.

Good article. It’s not the lack of “open” in Google’s business I take issue with—it’s just a business model, and a successful one at that. No, it’s bullSchmidt statements from their CEO that bug me because he’s rarely called on it.

Perhaps, albeit slowly, more and more tech writers will catch on like the one above. The open-but-not-really vs. closed-via-tiny-wall argument detracts from the actual products anyway. Offer something great, not rhetoric.

A Reasonable Look at the Apple and AT&T iPhone4 Lawsuit.

Not surprising I suppose, the lawsuit makes no mention of the perhaps questionable judgements of the plaintiffs who bought the product(s) sight unseen.

The star witness as it turns out seem to be some unqualified blogging site diatribes as technical references.

Frankly as a former RF Engineer myself, I can tell you that the performance issues claimed are inconsistent. The demonstration tests ill-informed. And there are as many wireless network variables as there may be device variables.

The frenzy over this issue is ridiculous. How many class action suits is this for Apple this decade? 50? 100? And it’s not just Apple. 

The problem with these nonsense suits—I call this one nonsense based on their cited authorities and how they’re playing it in the media—is that sooner or later they mask legitimate ones.

One is hard pressed to believe this firm is doing anything other than chasing a buck when three of the four links used in support of their initial statement about the “iPhone 4 investigation” are from Gizmodo. Bad enough to use blogs with questionable technical expertise in the first place, but citing one with a recent and obvious axe to grind against Apple seems the height of cluelessness. Meanwhile, the only non-Gizmodo link is to a rumors site. Lovely. 

Oh well, I’ve seen stranger suits prevail (a spilled cup of coffee comes to mind). I guess that’s why firms like Ambulance & Chaser, LLC. continue to try their luck.

Interesting take on the iPhone 4 reception issue

According to a trusted source, there are multiple points on the iPhone 4′s frame for antenna reception. Our source says that the issues “can and will” be addressed by tweaking, balancing, and/or redistributing antennae reception and/or signal strength display via software. When asked if it could be a hardware issue, our source said, “Don’t be silly. It’s not the hardware. Apple’s too smart for that. In fact, most any hardware maker is too smart for that.”

iOS 4.0.1?

Android Developers Blog: We have a kill switch and we’re not afraid to use it

we’ve also developed technologies and processes to remotely remove an installed application from devices. If an application is removed in this way, users will receive a notification on their phone.

Remember the discussion about Apple having a “kill switch” that could remotely delete apps from your phone? The tech punditry howled. Well, Google’s got one and they’re using it.

The blog post couches it in motherly, keeping-you-safe terms. Right. If Google cared about what apps they allowed in the market to begin with, maybe they wouldn’t need to use this thing. Alas, vetting apps is not Google’s strong suit, nor is it ever likely to be.

Misguided Developers: Apple dominates mobile development now, but “open” will win in the end

The way developers see it, Apple might be dominating the game today but in the long-term, it will be Google and its open platform approach that will take the top honors.

Right. Just like Linux with its “open platform approach” took “top honors” on the desktop. Which reminds me, is this The Year Of Linux again?

Anyway, you can develop an app taking advantage of unique hardware and software with off the charts customer satisfaction scores, or you can write lowest-common-denominator code in Java or Flash on wildly fluctuating devices. The choice is yours.

I’ve said before that Google can have all the philosophical/political developers they want. I still believe that. I’ve seen no correlation between a developer’s politics and ability to code.

Consumers just want a really great app. Whether the developer can also sell it on a dozen other devices doesn’t mean diddly to a typical end user (you know, the ones developers should be trying to sell to). Further, whether an app is “open” is irrelevant in a tech world where the meaning of that word has been twisted by every corporate entity to mean whatever it needs to in order to fit their marketing plan.

The “open” advocates are misguided believing they don’t want to buy or code for an Apple device because the six-inch high “wall” around Apple’s “garden” has only allowed over 39,000 developers and 225,000 apps—way more than competitors’ alleged “open” systems have—but it’s the theory, not the practice, that matters to such people.