Released last night by Matt Comi of Big Bucket (well known for his work on The Incident), Photochop is an ingenious iPhone app that allows you to break your photos into tiles and distort them to create either artistic or ridiculously funny collages.
I downloaded the app last night, and started playing around with some photos of my friends (they don’t know I’m using their faces to test new apps). The first thing that I noticed is that Photochop, built for iOS 6, uses a clean UI that looks already fine for iOS 7: with clean lines and iconography, translucent bars, and a photo picker button modeled after the new Photos icon of iOS 7, Photochop looks already at home on my iPhone 5 running iOS 7. There are also some distinct choices, though, that give Photochop a unique look.
Photochop lets you work on one photo at a time, and once you’ve picked a photo from your Camera Roll you can choose between three different grid sizes before breaking it up into tiles; to start editing, you simply tap on the grid. The editing screen is fun: there are buttons at the bottom to nudge, scale, rotate, and delete tiles, and controls at the top to switch between tile mode (the “artistic” one) and warp mode. According to the developer, warp mode is meant to make “people’s faces look weird”, and that is a message that I can completely understand because that’s what I’ve been doing in Photochop with my friends’ faces. Once you’re done editing, you can put pictures inside two types of frame (or leave them without a frame) and export them to the Camera Roll, Instagram (with Open In), Twitter, and Facebook.
From a technological standpoint, I’m quite impressed by Photochop’s image distortion and manipulation, which I’m pretty sure has been made possible by Apple’s advancements in APIs offered to developers in recent years (Update: It’s actually a game engine). In using Photochop, you can see how the app will benefit from the new physics engine APIs of iOS 7: right now, the tiles feel “weightless” in how they don’t bounce and slide across the screen, and I wonder if supporting iOS 7 with new effects and physics effects is something that Comi is already working on.
However, I stopped depending on IFTTT because, once I got more comfortable with my own Mac mini server as a remote automation assistant, I wanted to control the pipes of my personal data. I’m still using IFTTT for things like receiving an email if it’s going to rain tomorrow or a new SMS for press releases published by Apple (just an example of the power of IFTTT channels and recipes), but it’s not the primary system that I rely upon for automating daily tasks. The new IFTTT app for iPhone, which I have been testing and has been released today on the App Store, may make me (partially) reconsider my decision. (more…)
Apple’s Photos app is the default location for saving and sharing photos with friends on iOS. It’s a place where I spend a lot of time either deleting old screenshots (unique to us bloggers) or sorting images into albums as best I can before syncing them with iPhoto. The app has never made much sense to me, between how it simply handles moving images into albums from the Camera Roll or into Photo Stream, and I don’t particularly care for how it whisks away old photos after a period of time on a per device basis in Photo Stream. Peter Nixey was featured on Hacker News earlier today for his thoughts on how managing photos could be better on iOS, and I agree with the general idea:
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.
I get that there are limitations and lots of things happening in the background, but a lot of that makes itself evident in Photos if you look closely enough. I don’t necessarily agree with Peter’s pricing ideas or that Dropbox and the like are even a threat. But what I do agree with is that the dumb syncing silo that is Photo Stream has to go. Camera Roll can stay as it is — I don’t necessarily need the two merged. When I move photos from the camera roll into a new album, that photo should be gone — moved from my Camera Roll. And those albums should simply show up everywhere from my iPhone to my iPad and on my Mac or Windows box. The “duplication” that happens everywhere with photos right now on iOS is absolutely crazy. And if I want to use the iPhoto app on iOS instead… can’t I just make that the default?
I love taking pictures on my iPhone. But the syncing, the managing, the sorting… it’s not great.
In February 1998, Nintendo released an accessory for the Game Boy line called Game Boy Camera. Compatible with all Game Boy systems (including the Color that would only come out eight months later), the Game Boy Camera could take black & white digital photos using the limited four-color palette of the Game Boy hardware. The Game Boy Camera, which was also compatible with the Super Game Boy SNES/Super Famicom accessory, could print photos on thermal paper through the Game Boy Printer, another piece of hardware that Nintendo introduced in 1998 and discontinued in 2003 (two years after the release of the first Game Boy Advance).
For months, I used OneEdit, an iPhone/iPad app to batch resize images from the Camera Roll; OneEdit comes with a lot of features, including presets, Dropbox sharing, and FTP uploads. The downside is that the app's interface is clunky and convoluted, with seemingly no intention from the developer to update it. In spite of that, however, I kept using OneEdit to resize multiple screenshots at once, save them to the Camera Roll, fire up Diet Coda, and move them to our FTP server. When we decided to move 4 years of image uploads off the FTP and onto a CDN (alongside new uploads on a daily basis), I asked our Don Southard to create a Hazel script that would monitor Dropbox for screenshots and upload them to the CDN. This is what I've been using in combination with some Pythonista scripts that would resize screenshots for me.
My iOS screenshot workflow is faster thanks to Pythonista and the Hazel script running on the Mac mini, but I miss the possibility of having a single app capable of batch resizing and uploading images to Rackspace Cloud Files.1 The latest Pythonista update made things dramatically better with the Photos module, but I still can't pick multiple photos at once (and, obviously, I still have to deal with Python).
My “ideal” batch resizing photo app for iOS would excel in two different aspects: it would be Universal and have an elegant interface to pick multiple photos at once to batch resize them with presets; it would come with a plethora of sharing options built-in, including Cloud Files and SFTP support. Reduce is close to excellence when it comes to the first one.
According to Apple, the iPhone 5 offers 44% more color saturation than the iPhone 4S. Jeff Yurek of dot color decided to put the claim under direct scientific inspection, and found out (through a spectroradiometer) that, indeed, the display is remarkably improved.
The 44% more color claim for the iPhone 5 is the same claim Apple made for the new iPad. As with the iPad, increasing the color performance of the iPhone 4S by 44% of NTSC 1953 gamut, measured using the CIE 1931 color space, would result in color saturation matching the sRGB color standard. Using these standards as the goal posts, we measured the iPhone 5 at 70% of NTSC 1953 in CIE 1931, a 39% increase from the iPhone 4S, which measured at 50%. That’s 5% less of an improvement than Apple’s 44% claim and just 99% of sRGB (measured against the sRGB primaries). While 5% less might seem like a big deal, getting to 99% of sRGB is a major feat and will result in tremendously noticeable color improvement in the phone. Additionally, color filters are notoriously difficult to manufacture.
I am no display expert, but from personal experience I can say I see a definite improvement of blues and greens on the iPhone 5. Just by looking at the App Store, Phone, and Messages icons on an iPhone 5 and iPhone 4S, you can see that the colors are more vivid and “real” on the new device. Yurek’s scientific measurements put this into better context with factual evidence.
The official Dropbox app recently gained the capability of automatically uploading photos to the Camera Uploads folder: this means every time I go out and take some photos, I can come back home, open the Dropbox app, let it do its magic, then delete the photos from my iPhone. The photos will be uploaded to the Camera Uploads folder, and sorted using the same Hazel workflow described above.
Thanks to a third-party app, I’ve managed to (partially) automate the process of uploading photos from my iPhone (and iPad) as soon as I get home. I’m now using CameraSync to upload photos to Dropbox automatically. (more…)
I like iPhoto on the Mac. The app’s interface sports Apple’s proverbial attention to polish and details, the Faces feature is nice, and I like the possibility to visualize photos on a map, just as I find Photo Stream very convenient for my blogging workflow. However, I realized that I don’t want to depend on iPhoto to store the photos that, twenty years from now, I’ll look back to as memories. I need my photos — moments captured as .jpeg files — to be photos, not a database. And at the same time, I need to be able to access them now from any device I have without having to worry about sync, apps, formats, and corrupted entries. I have decided to move all my photos from iPhoto to Dropbox.
This is something I have been thinking about for the past year. Do I want my photos to be stored inside someone else’s app? And if not, why not do the same for any other media I store on my computer? Should I also ditch Rdio and go back to neatly organized .mp3 files in the Finder?
I have come to the conclusion that photos are irreplaceable. Decades from now, I’ll probably be able to find a 2Pac record somewhere online or in a record store (will those still exist?). But not so with photos. If something — anything — happens to my photos, they’ll be gone forever. There won’t be anyone able to give me my memories back. Just as I do for text files — the words I write — I have chosen to store my photos — the things I experience — as .jpeg files, a format that should still be around for the foreseeable future. (more…)
I gave up on Image Capture and used Dropbox. But if you’ve used Dropbox for this purpose, you know it involves several steps: launch the app, tap the Uploads tab, tap the add button, tap the photo, etc. etc. It works, but it wasn’t convenient enough.
I wanted something instantaneous. Fortunately, Ryan McCuaig was able to point me in the right direction.
Photo Stream is great, but it’s not 100% reliable. While I can typically wait a couple of minutes for iOS screenshots to show up in iPhoto (or Finder, based on the tip above), sometimes I don’t have that kind of flexibility, as I need access to those images right away. For those times, I use Scotty.
Developed by Galarina, Scotty (my review) is a $1.99 universal app that can send images to computers (on OS X, it uses File Sharing) and other iOS devices. Scotty is fast, well designed, and remarkably intuitive — it is even integrated with the Camera+ lightbox. I also use Scotty as Photo Stream doesn’t work on 3G, and I couldn’t find a better way to send iPhone screenshots to my iPad over Bluetooth.