March 06, 2012

Aching for better iOS app integration

[Disclosures: If I had any inside info, I obviously couldn't share it here, and I've been hopeful/disappointed on this subject before.]

Poor integration leads to bloated apps: if jumping among apps/modules is slow, customers gravitate towards all-in-one tools that offer more overall efficiency, even if the individual pieces are lacking.

Today I saw Neven Mrgan writing, of iPad photo apps,

[I]t’s just so much more convenient to stay in the canonical photo store; importing and exporting photos to and from another app is clumsier.

 

I experienced the pain, over and over, on my trip to Guatemala.  Having taken just my iPad & Camera Connection Kit, I was eager to put a variety of photo tools to the test.  Moving among apps was far & away the crappiest part of the experience.  For example:

  • I’d review images in Photos, where I can see them nice and large. But I can’t say “Open in App X,” so…
  • I’d leave Photos, launch Snapseed, bring up the tiny, default image browser component, navigate to the same point in my photo library, and then try to pick the same image I’d just been looking at in Photos.
  • After editing, I’d hit Save, and images would go into the Camera Roll (not Imports, where I’d been browsing them).  Thus I couldn’t see the edited images alongside the originals.
  • After repeating the process many times, I’d go to Flickr Studio, then carefully & laboriously add photos from various albums.  (The app doesn’t let you re-order images, so I had to dive into the albums again & again just to get the sequence right.)
  • At last I’d upload.

 

This really, really sucked.  Far more desirable:

  • Browse the images in the browser of my choice (Photos or something else–one that could, say, flag/sort/whittle down images, local or remote).
  • Tap one or more images and say “Send to App X” (to build a panorama, composite in PS Touch, apply a tilt shift blur, whatever)–no manual navigating to the other apps, no navigating back to the photos.
  • Be able to save, return to my browser, and see the edited image alongside the original.
  • Hand off one or more images to the sharing tool of my choice.

 

Let’s not bloat PS Touch with every damn filter we can think of; rather, let’s have a great way to pass data back and forth, so that apps can function as plug-ins to one another. (PhotoAppLink is a nice start, but we need something universal.)  And let’s not all bloat our apps reinventing the image browser, integrating the same sharing services over & over, etc.  There’s a far more elegant way to proceed.

Tangential: Neven also writes,

The iPad is too big to shoot with; the iPhone is too small to edit on. Bridging the two is fine in theory, but in practice there’s the hairy matter of extremely large file sizes.

But why is it that my phone or tablet can send HD video streams instantly to my TV, yet they can’t send photos or video to each other (or to my Mac)?  To put a phone video onto my Mac, I have to upload the whole thing to something like Dropbox, then download it again; isn’t that kind of bizarre?  I really thought that AirDrop would sort things out; hope springs eternal.

Posted by John Nack at 12:00 PM on March 06, 2012
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