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. 

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Google Acquires Online Image-Editing Tool Picnik

Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but Picnik will remain up and operational, at least for the foreseeable future.

Google already has Picasa Web. Did they buy to beef up that product, or to keep others from acquiring? I wonder about the strategy. Sometimes it seems Google just can’t stand any eyeballs on the web not looking at one of their own.

Photographers to lose copyright and right to take photographs in public [u]

If they are not registered with this quango agency, your images can be plundered and used anywhere, by anyone – on the understanding that the thief makes a very minimal effort to find you – the author of the image.

This is frightening proposed legislation. You can always tell when proponents know how much a bill stinks by the way they try to slide it in without definitive wording or real debate.

[UPDATE:] Account was suspended at original link; here’s a link to the cached page: http://bit.ly/cs89bW

True HDR iPhone Photo App is Awesome.

The iPhone 3GS’ feature to tap for setting focus and exposure is great, allowing for better photos than previous iPhones. However, sometimes I’m stuck with a choice of extreme lights or darks, and find myself tapping something in the middle for a rather bland compromise.

Not any more.

See the photo below of the view out my office window. In this case I focused on the ground, which looks good, but at the expense of a too-white sky that lacks contrast.

Below is a photo of the same scene, this time focused on the sky. It’s bluer, and you can better make out the hazy outline of Mt. Santiago, but at the expense of the ground looking more in shadow.

Now see the photo below, which is the result of “merging” the above two photos in True HDR. It’s a nice combination of the best exposures from both photos. Sweet.

No, this is not a substitute for better exposure in the first place. However, in most cases it’s better than under- or over-exposing the scene and trying to use the brightness/contrast settings of an iPhone app like Photogene to fix the bad parts. While no miracle worker, True HDR simply works better for moderate to large exposure discrepancies than any iPhone post-processing app I’ve seen.

One drawback is that the output is limited to 960×960 resolution, with “full resolution” promised in a later update. Also note that this app requires an iPhone 3GS because the whole point is to capture two pictures with exposure “extremes” via the tap-to-focus feature.

For me this was a no-brainer purchase, especially at only $2. If you take a lot of photos with your iPhone 3GS, or want to, this is a great app to have in your toolkit.