Saturday, January 8, 2011

Photo browsing and editing on the iPad

I love photography as much as I love my iPad. Unfortunately photo browsing and editing on this amazing device can be quite frustrating, but I have some good news: Photogene has recently released a new version of its iPad app which solves some of the pains around these tasks. I am looking forward to see more photo applications moving in this same direction.

On my desktop machine I use Picasa to store and view all my pictures. I do some editing in Picasa itself, but I often have to switch to Photoshop for more advanced editing. I am a bit of a snob when it comes to photo quality and Picasa doesn't provide enough features and it also degrades photo quality when straightening. I am also not impressed by the new Picnik integration. The editing capabilities added are marginal, unless you are willing to pay a monthly fee for premium features.
Even given its limitations I do love Picasa, to organize my thousands of pictures in albums and by people (I do use this feature quite a lot), to select favorite pictures and as a jumping point for creating an album in Shutterfly or Snapfish.
At the moment I am still a frustrated photo enthusiast when it comes to the iPad. The native photo app is pleasant for browsing pictures, but terrible for organizing. Don't you hate not being able rename or create folders and/or move pictures across folders. Do I really have to use my computer and sync using iTunes for that?
Being a Picasa enthusiast I have tried a few Picasa apps and have used Web Albums which allows me to access my Picasa albums in a browser.
The Web Album interface mimics the native iPad photo app, and it provides a pleasant browsing experience. More recently the app has added support for multiple albums, which was a big plus for me. Web Albums has also added an integrated search, which unfortunately ignores both captions and tags, making search completely useless. I wish the action menu provided a quick jump to the web album in the browser, instead of their simple "Copy Photo URL", which forces a few extra manual steps to get there. I also wish the app could provide an "Open In..." menu to jump to my Photo editing apps.
Now that we cover browsing let's talk about editing.
I am still experimenting with a few apps but I find myself still using Photoshop on my desktop for anything that I really care about.
That being said, I would like to do simple editing if selecting a picture and storing the results was less frustrating. Most of the apps use the same tiny popup dialog to browse the pictures to edit. That is incredibly frustrating when you have lots of pictures and you need to find the one to edit using a small scrollable window. To make things worse, all my edits get saved in the same "Saved Photos" folder, instead of on the original photo folder.
I am please to announce that there is finally a solution for people that share these pains! In a recent update Photogene has completely revised their user interface, mimicking my Picasa's beloved behavior. Photogene displays a start screen with all the pictures from my photo library. The user interface is remarkably similar to the iPad native photo app.
I was very excited about the view by faces tab, but I'm sad to discover that you can add this information only using the iPhoto MAC software ... what a bummer. From this browsing screen I can select a picture to edit, and when I am done I don't have to save it in a separate file, unless I want to export the edits outside the app. I can edit a set of images and both edits and originals are preserved, in the same fashion as Picasa does. Edited pictures are marked with an icon.
Viewing, managing and editing my pictures from a single tool seems to be almost a reality with Photogene. Unfortunately there are still two simple features missing, that force me to go back to the Photo app:
viewing a set of images and deleting. When I view an image, I would like to easily access the previous and next image in my album. Going to the Photo app just to delete an image is kind of a bummer.
That said, kudos to the designer of the Photogene app. I believe he understood the bigger pain of dealing with photos on the iPad, and had provided a brilliant solution to it!
I hope to see more photo apps moving in this direction in the future.

2 comments:

James said...

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PJ said...

Hi! I would add Photo Album – Photobook to this list, let you create the albums on your iPad. Photo Album is the most unique and advanced photo book and album creating app.
Download from
iTunes:
https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/photo-album-photobook/id586997137?ls=1&mt=8

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