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App Review ~ Collections for iPad

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Collections for iPad Home Screen

Collections for iPad Version 1.7

CFI provides a one-stop solution to organise your photos into photo books, collect you photos into a portfolio and even share your collections. You can choose your favourite layouts to show off your photos. You can transfer your photos from your computer (directly), Facebook and Dropbox into beautiful collections for sharing, export your photobooks into PDF and play slideshows of your photo books with music as well.

Collections for iPad

As with all iOS portfolio Apps, it’s important to know how they introduce themselves on first use. Do they provide a quick run through of the App with instructions, contain a help guide/slideshow? How easily does the App allow the user to get to work? The first thing an artist is going to do is create a gallery and then customise it. This walkthrough and others walk that line.

Collections for iPad (CFI), is the fourth iOS App in this series of portfolio Apps to be reviewed. As you can read from the Quick Features list, there are options galore for customising nearly every aspect of a portfolio. You might feel a little overwhelmed, but for those who want an extreme amount of control, if you want the ability to edit to your hearts content, to the individual pixel, Collections for iPad is probably it.

Read the rest of this entry »

Tiger Ng of Collections for iPad interviewed

The fourth in a series of interview with various Photographers and iOS Developers. All of them develop portfolio Apps for Apple’s iPad. This interview is with Hong Kongese developer Tiger Ng.

Tiger Ng is a developer based in Hong Kong. Tiger is also responsible for other iApps such as PictureGames and PictureSecret. All his Apps involve some element of photography.

Collections for iPad can be found at any of the links here:- Website, iTunes,

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What gave you the inspiration to write Collections?

I found the built-in Photo App in the iPad boring, and other photo album Apps are also used in a similar way to browse photos, i.e. list of albums, list of photos in grid view, etc. There is also no iPhoto (Apple’s iLife) product in the market. Therefore, I would like to write a photos app to make people browse photos like photo books.

Who are you?  Are you a photographer?  Tell us a bit about yourself or the Portfolio team.

I am Tiger Ng, I am based in Hong Kong. I am not photographer. I have been working on iOS platform for 2 years.

Is this your first App for iOS?

My first app is Photo Only, it is an app that grabs any image from any web page, and users can download and view photos offline with it.

Slideshow with time line

How easy was it to code in order to create Collections?  How long did it take to get Collections to Version 1?

It took me four weeks, it has also given me image processing experience.

Do you write any other Apps for iOS?

Yes. Recently I have written an app called “PictureGames”, it allows people to create their own photo games (4 games now) in a few minutes. Another of my Apps is called “PictureSecret”, it provides a new way to share any hidden messages using photos.

Will you write other Apps for iOS devices? More importantly, photography related ones.

Yes.

You released Collections before iOS 4.2. Did coding for iOS 4.2 make much of a difference compared to iOS 3.2?

Big difference. There are no multiple photos selection provided in iOS 3.2 and the image picker cannot be customized. In iOS 4.2, you can customize your own image pickers to provide multiple selections. That’s a major feature for photo Apps.

How long did it take to write Collections?

4 weeks.

Edit Mode

Where do you want to take Collections with future updates, where do you see yourself in a years time?

There is a lot of potential with that. Collections will be going to support videos, integrate with more photo sharing sites, and add sharing capability itself.

What do you as a Developer/Photographer want to see in the next iPad, either to aid your Apps or just for your own pleasure?

Camera. It is the most important feature for creating new photo Apps.

Are you a one man operation or is this a group effort?

One man.

Where are you based and where have you seen the greatest uptake of Collections at the moment?

In the US.

I found the built in Photo Application rather lacking for a Pro Photographer, others will feel it’s good enough. Were you concerned of your App’s uptake by other Photographers before committing yourself to creating Portfolio?

Collections provides new way to organize your photos in iPad. It can be for photo books (collage template), portfolio (edit, view, and slideshow mode), and even an image organizer (global search and folder).

Can you explain anything about the creation process behind your app? Did you involve other photographers or even editors to ask what they would want in a digital portfolio that attempts to replicate the printed portfolio and presentation?

Just do it.

Directly import images from your Computer

Just to wrap up. How do you see this market developing as we go forward?  Are you concerned about the ‘race to the bottom’ and copycat apps affecting this class of applications?

I think the quality is the most important. Less bugs and great performance can attract new users. The market is highly competitive because iPhone and iPad is still becoming popular and many people are coming to develop Apps. To keep growing, extending to other platforms, e.g. android or windows phone may be another solution.

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Collections for iPad at the time of writing is priced at £1.79 and $2.99 on the iOS Apple Store.

Portfolio To Go IPAD App Review

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Sharing your images

A recent winner of Apple’s ‘iPad App of the Week’ award, Portfolio To Go features an elegant and intuitive photo-wall giving users instant access to all of their Flickr photosets: scroll each gallery horizontally to browse thumbs, scroll vertically to traverse through all synced galleries. The main purpose of Portfolio To Go is to enable photographers to present their portfolio offline to clients – perfect for use with iPad wi-fi: just sync and go. Photographers create and edit their photosets on Flickr.com and Portfolio To Go acts as a presentation tool, keeping in sync with all your Flickr changes.

Quick Features

  • Photo Wall:
View all your Flickr photo galleries at once – scroll each gallery horizontally to browse thumbs, scroll vertically to traverse through all synced galleries. Click on any thumbnail to jump into the main image view.
  • Main image view displays gallery thumbnails to enable intuitive gallery navigation. Just click the main image to go full-screen.
  • Flickr Authorization: access to all of your private, friends and family and public photos
  • Multiple cached portfolios: add unlimited Flickr portfolios via your contacts or Flickr IDs to P2G and switch between them.
  • Auto-cache photos: all photos get cached in the background while you browse (you can turn this feature off in settings)
  • Send Portfolio to a Client: Pick and choose which galleries to include and then send your portfolio straight to clients and friends by email from the app. Clients will download the free Portfolio to Go Player app to their iPad/iPhone/iPod Touch and launch your portfolio from the emailed link.
  • Share your photos and Flickr links via Facebook, Twitter or Email
  • Save favourite Photos to your iPad Photo Library

Portfolio To Go

The developer of Portfolio To Go (PTG) has taken a distinguishing approach towards the iPad Portfolio market. PTG assumes your portfolio already exists online on Flickr, and allows you to effortlessly import it onto your iPad with little effort. It also means, creative types don’t need to spend any time creating a portfolio. Flickr IS where you are already showing your work to millions, so it feels like a valid reason to take your photography with you on your iPad.

Importing Images

Upon activation, the first thing you need to do, is sign into your Flickr account. This is mandatory for using PTG; you can’t side load content from iTunes. As with any 3rd party application, you have to authorise a service to work with your Flickr account, nothing unusual there. PTG will then automatically download your galleries from Flickr, it’s quite speedy with images appearing quickly, showing up as thumbnails on your home screen wall. Lot’s of content however creates a cluttered home screen. A prolific photographer would end up having tens of galleries in PTG and it would end of looking very busy like in the image below.

Gallery layout

Notice how caption text runs off the screen, all text is the same weight, everything is shouting for the same amount of attention. Look at the gallery view in iPhoto, much cleaner and easier to navigate. Thumbnails represent entire galleries instead of having all the images as thumbnails, text is reduced to the most important element, Gallery titles.

I would like to see some tweaking with the UI, making it easier to view specific galleries. There is another way to view galleries which is kinder to the eyes, pressing ‘Galleries’ in the top left brings a pop over menu onscreen. It illustrates partially what I’ve just described as an aid for the user. You get a thumbnail of the galleries with some descriptive text, from here you can hide any galleries you don’t want to show and it makes navigating quicker. If this idea was expanded on, PTG wouldn’t be as busy.

You can deselect galleries on the pop over menu.

The pop over menu helps but there still needs to be a redesign on the main screen without needing to tap up a menu screen. Flickr.com has it’s own minimal looking gallery view as well.

Flickr Gallery View

Editing Images

You use Flickr to edit your photography so there is not much to say here. PTG doesn’t allow you to edit anything beyond image scaling, refresh rates and auto-caching photos. Think of PTG as being more of a playback tool rather than an App with a huge array of functions to show off your work. Again this is a boon to creatives who don’t want to edit their portfolio on the iPad, but just concentrate on using PTG to give presentations.

Video Captions

PTG, doesn’t import video, I think it should. PTG does allow for captions. You can’t edit text within PTG, again you’re not supposed to. Captionsthat are longer than two lines are cropped until you push your finger over them to reveal more. I’d have liked to have a bit more space allocated for captions, so I didn’t need to finger them. Better yet, why restrict caption space if there is a button that can hide/show text anyway? Many Apps on the App store do this so, and I’m not sure why it’s so common either (Reuters & Latitude Magazine to quickly name two others).

Branding

Your home screen, consists of all your portfolios from Flickr. PTG has no authoring tools for creating a personalized home screen. If you want to brand yourself, a more novel solution is required in order to present your identity as a creative artist (custom iPad portfolio box maybe)?

Presenting

Presentations are effortless with PTG and the lack of  editing tools does reduce the App’s complexity. In a gallery, a single tap takes you to a shared screen view, main image on top and a thumbnail timeline running along the bottom, further onscreen taps, alternates the view with a full screen mode hiding the timeline. There is no pinch to zoom during slide shows.

Settings

Settings Screen

At the top of the screen are five buttons; top left is the Wall/Gallery switch view, with the remaining four on the right. From left to right they are: a share function (share on Facebook, share on twitter for example), an option to suggest new features/write a review, ‘Settings’ for presenting imagery and a very useful button shaped like a portfolio which allows you to view your contact’s galleries. Let’s be honest, Flickr.com is terribly slow to navigate, this is a great feature to include in the App. Everybody else’s work is just as accessible! During slideshow mode, more buttons appear on the bottom; controls for showing images, info button which hide/shows caption text and another share button

Wrapping Up

The Ugly

  • Doesn’t import flickr video

The Bad

  • No Pinch to Zoom
  • Home screen UI needs redesigning
  • Captions feature needs tweaking
  • You need to have a Flickr account
  • Doesn’t import gallery intro text

The Good

  • Flickr, on your iPad!
  • Automatically imports image captions
  • You can easily view other people’s work
  • Fast and easy to use
  • Install and download content on the go

The Best

  • No need to edit your portfolio, everything is done for you

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There is also an interview with the developer of Portfolio To Go here.

Portfolio To Go can be found at any of the links below:

WebsiteiTunesTwitterFacebook

Nick Kuh of Portfolio To Go interviewed

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The third in the series of interviews with various Photographers and iOS Developers. All of them develop portfolio Apps for Apple’s iPad. This interview is with UK developer Nick Kuh of Portfolio To Go.

Nick Kuh is a freelance iPhone/iPad Developer based in Brighton, UK. Nick is also responsible for various Apps on the Apple App store, one of them in particular is Tap To Facebook Chat.

Portfolio To Go can be found at any of the links below. A PDF version of this interview can be found here:

Website, iTunes, Twitter, Facebook

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What gave you the inspiration to write Portfolio To Go?

I wrote and submitted the first version of Portfolio To Go before the iPad launched in the UK. I’d already authored a number of iPhone Applications and I wanted to build an app that would run on both iPhone and the new iPad.  My wife, Nicole Carman (www.nicolecarman.com) is a photographer and when she visits new clients she often carries a large portfolio of her printed work. With it’s beautiful large, high res screen I felt the iPad could be the ideal replacement tool for photographers and artists who need to take their portfolio to go!

Who are you?  Are you a photographer?  Tell us a bit about yourself or the Portfolio To Go team.

I’m a freelance iPhone/iPad Developer. My wife is a photographer.

Is this your first App for iOS?

No – I have about 8-10 apps in the App Store, a combination of personal projects and commercial work.

Home Screen

 

Do you write any other Apps for iOS?

My most popular app is also my most recent. Tap To Facebook Chat (http://www.facebook.com/taptochat) enables users to Facebook Chat with Friends all on one screen. Built for iPhone and iPad in partnership with Chris Ross (http://www.hiddenmemory.co.uk) we developed a free, ad supported version and a paid version. Our app has been downloaded 60,000 times in the 3 weeks it’s been live.

Will you write other Apps for iOS devices? More importantly, photography related ones.

I will continue to write apps. I don’t have plans for further Photography apps at this stage although another of my apps – Buddies Facebook Browser also focuses on Photos for Facebook users.

What is notable about the photo function in the Buddies Facebook Browser?  I read a 4 star review on iTunes, it stated that for a facebook app it seemed more concerned about the photo features (and chat) than anything else.

Buddies enables users to create Facebook photo galleries and add photos from their iPad. Buddies batch uploads multiple photos in the background while the user continues to browse Facebook. Users can even create Facebook galleries and add photos when they’re not connected to the Internet – Buddies just syncs their changes the next time they connect.

Sharing Content

 

You released Portfolio before iOS 4.2. Did coding for iOS 4.2 make much of a difference compared to iOS 3.2?

There’s not much work involved if you’re a competent iOS developer. You have to be aware of Apps going in and out of the foreground rather than actually shutting down and restarting but Apple makes this process pretty straight forward for developers.

How long did it take to write Portfolio To Go?

Erm… I didn’t really keep count. It’s an ongoing process so the hours will have built up a lot over time. Maybe around 6 weeks development total.

Where do you want to take Portfolio To Go with future updates, where do you see yourself in a years time?

I get a lot of positive feedback from customers about Portfolio To Go which is always nice to receive. I don’t have imminent plans to update this app as it does everything I set out to do with the app. It does provide a beautiful way for photographers to show clients their work.

It’s admirable that you set out and achieved what you wanted to do.  Not many individuals can actually say that. So you don’t feel any pressure from the competition then?

No, I don’t feel any pressure. Personal apps are my secondary source of income – I make my main living from working on commercial projects. Obviously I want my apps to do well though!

Portrait View

 

What do you as a Developer/Photographer want to see in the next iPad, either to aid your Apps or just for your own pleasure?

I’m pretty happy with the current iPad, it’s miles ahead of anything produced by the copycat competitors!

How do you see this market developing as we go forward?  Are you concerned about the ‘race to the bottom’ and copycat apps affecting this class of applications?

Portfolio To Go was about the first Portfolio App specifically for iPad in the App Store I think. Now-a-days there are quite a few competitors. It does amaze me how expensive some of the competitors are pricing their apps. So high in fact that I haven’t checked out most of their products – so who am I to judge!

Some competitors are incorporating features so artists can display video work alongside photographic work.  Other Apps offer the ability to brand a home screen using light editing tools.  Do they sound like something you’d want to implement at some point?

Portfolio To Go is a Playback app. These kind of features would be better suited to an app that also incorporates editing. That’s never been my goal with PTG.

Settings

 

Are you a one-man operation or is this a group effort?

One-man band.

Where are you based and where have you seen the greatest uptake of Portfolio To Go at the moment?

I’m based in Brighton, UK. The US is the strongest market for every App I’ve developed.

Why is the US your biggest market do you think?

The US has the largest base of iPad/iPhone owners out of all the different App Store countries. Unless you’re making a country-specific app such as National Rail or London Tube apps you are likely to see that majority of your sales coming from the US. That’s been my experience.

I found the built in Photo Application rather lacking for a Pro Photographer, others will feel it’s good enough. Were you concerned of your App’s uptake by other Photographers before committing yourself to creating Portfolio To Go?

Portfolio to Go began as a learning experiment. I wanted to make my first iPad App and also something my wife would be able to use to show her work to clients. Portfolio To Go was less business driven (like some of my other apps) and more about learning iPad Dev skills. So no, I wasn’t concerned.

Can you explain anything about the creation process behind your app? Did you involve other photographers or even editors to ask what they would want in a digital portfolio that attempts to replicate the printed portfolio and presentation?

Primarily I see the iPad as a ‘Playback Tool’. It’s a beautiful device and it’s great that there are so many apps out there that enable you to achieve all kinds of complicated functions. However, I like to use the iPad for consuming content – browsing Twitter and Facebook using Flipboard, viewing photos, reading news etc. The default photos app is great but it requires you to connect to iTunes and sync photos each time you take a new set. My wife (and millions of other photographers) use Flickr.com to upload and organise their photos using Flickr’s online sharing service. Portfolio To Go updates itself automatically with your Flickr portfolio so it can be used as a Playback tool and not an Authoring tool. I think it does that really well.

That’s a clever feature because you actually start to spend less time ‘working’ on the iPad, those use to the keyboard and mouse will feel they are more productive.  But Apps in general are trying to get us to do more with our iPads.  So Portfolio To Go goes against the trend of enabling the iPad to do more.  That philosophy also allows Portfolio To Go to literally live up to its name.

I believe in creating good user experiences and Apple encourages that. Less is often more when it comes to user experience if your app achieves its primary purpose well. Portfolio To Go has won an iPad App of the Week Award from Apple BTW!

How do you see Portfolio To Go existing alongside a traditional portfolio?  I think such presentation apps done right are good enough to replace the printed portfolio.  If the photography is good enough then it won’t matter how they are presented.

I think Portfolio To Go serves this process well. Numerous photographers have written to me to let me know how PTG helped them win new clients. Ultimately I see the App’s purpose as an introduction to a Photographer’s work and not a replacement of print in general though.

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Portfolio To Go at the time of writing is priced at £2.99 and $4.99 on the Apple App Store.

A review of Portfolio To Go can be found here: Portfolio To Go.

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Coming soon: Interview and review for ‘Collections for iPad’ by Tiger Ng.

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