The problem with Carousel, the new app from Dropbox released today to organize, present, and share photos isn’t the app itself, it’s what it’s built on.
Carousel is a fantastic app for mobile presentation of photos. Quick and easy to find old photos and show and share them. It’s really one of the better cloud photo apps I’ve tried. The real problem is that it’s build on Dropbox, which is a service created for cloud storage of documents and not for media. And that service is still priced for documents and not media.
Let me back up a second. Dropbox is an amazing service. I’ve used it and paid for it for years. But I’ve never considered it a great place to store photos, video, or other media files. The problem is that is is really expensive right now. In a time where Google is charging $10/month for a terabyte, and Flickr gives every user a free terabyte for images, Dropbox is charging 10x what Google is, and without upgrading to a business plan users can’t even get more then 500GB in an account (for $50/month).
Media piles up quickly. Especially so with photos since every reader of this blog likely has a camera with them at all times of the day, every day. I myself have well over 700GB of images that I’ve stored up from 10+ years of digital photography. I’ve just now started scanning old family photos and there are thousands of those waiting to be completed. All in all I’ll probably need close to a terabyte for just my images to store a “lifetime of memories.” And that doest even count the birthday, vacation, and all the other special occasion videos. This type of media is easier and easier to take and edit, but they will also fill up a Dropbox account very quickly.
So for now, Carousel is a great app, if you have a few hundred photos, but it doesn’t really fit the first selling point that Dropbox is touting it as, it doesn’t allow a lifetime of memories. That is unless you don’t have a lot of memories.
I think Dropbox will be forced into dropping their prices soon. Perhaps they are ready to do it now but didn’t want to take the focus away from the new features. Cloud storage is a commodity, and Dropbox is way overpriced right now.
With Quik.io you can:
• Watch videos, listen to music and access documents from your computers on your iPad
• Enjoy instant video playback with automatic media format conversion
• Save media files to an iPad for viewing when not connected to the Internet
• “QuikSend” media files to share with friends and family
• Experience fast, seamless streaming without complex router configuration for port forwarding
• Connects between your iPad and computers with WiFi at home/hotspots or 3G/4G
• Enjoy access to your private home PC/Mac media library while at work, school or on the road
Your computer is a powerful piece of technology, and it usually has a lot of storage space on it, enough to store band discographies that you’ve never even listened to one track off of. Your phone and tablet are great mobile devices, but they’re also great for listening to music and watching videos while at home. So, you’re sitting on your couch or laying in bed, and want to listen to that one album from that band that you’ve never really listened to all the way through. However, you’re too lazy to get up to your computer to actually put it on there. Or maybe you downloaded season 5 of Breaking Bad but your storage space is best measured in kilobyes, not gigabytes. If only there was a way to stream the media from iTunes to your iOS device!
Well, there is, and it’s called iTunes Home Streaming. This streams media from an iTunes library over a local wi-fi network to any iOS device.
Set it up on iTunes first. Log in with the Apple ID of your choosing – it’s best if this is the same Apple ID that was initially set up on the device, and is logged in to iCloud, but it doesn’t necessarily need to be. To manage the Apple ID that is logged in to Home Sharing, go to Settings -> Music or Video and tap Apple ID.
To access music from a local iTunes library, go to the Music app. Tap More, Shared, the name of your iTunes library (configurable from iTunes’s preferences), and then the standard music listings will instead show what is available from the remote library, which can then stream the music to your iOS device.
Now here’s the kicker: it also works for video. As long as the video in the iTunes library is compatible with iOS, then it will play. DRM-protected content purchased from iTunes plays back via Home Sharing too. These videos can also be streamed from AirPlay to an Apple TV. It’s the ultimate in high technology being used for new levels of laziness.
Now, the only real downside to Home Sharing is that it only works over local wi-fi. There are plenty of ways to stream music and video over the internet, but that would fill up a completely different article. Until then, enjoy using thousands of dollars of technology to stream video to TV without getting up to your computer.
This week at 148Apps.com, writer Carter Dotson reviewed one of the most anticipated iOS games in recent memory – Infinity Blade II. Dotson writes, “Most of what is new here is a modified and extended progression structure. Instead of one path leading to a final boss, where failure means starting over, there are now several of them, with more branching paths to explore. There are 3 different weapon types now: the traditional swords, slow and heavy axes that deal more damage, and speedy dual swords that deal less base damage, but can do double damage once combos are started. The story is more fleshed out, with actual speaking dialogue from characters besides the God King.”
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Released: 2011-12-01 :: Category: Games
Meanwhile, our attention was turned to more artistic matters at GiggleApps, as Amy Solomon reviewed Auryn – Van Gogh and the Sunflowers. Solomon says, “The look of this app is terrific, with illustrations evoking the style that Van Gogh is known for, complete with bold color choices and noticeable use of brush strokes, but maintains a childlike quality that fits well within this storybook. The jazzy music used is also wonderful, relaxing as well as engaging and very enjoyable to listen to even for long periods of time. The narration used here is also quite good. Parents will also like that each spoken word is highlighted red to aid the young children new to the world of reading.”
iPad Only App - Designed for the iPad
Released: 2011-10-22 :: Category: Books
Finally, 148Apps.biz site editor Rob Lefebvre reported on tablet users and their media consumption. LeFebvre writes, “In a study put out by comScore and reported by Fierce Mobile Content and the appside, interested parties can see that the number one use of tablet devices is games, with 67% of surveyed tablet users saying they’ve played a game at least once in the past month, as compared to 49% of smartphone users surveyed. 23% of those surveyed said they’d played a game on their tablet EVERY DAY. That’s a good number.”
That’s our wrap-up for this week. While you’re out getting all of your holiday shopping done, don’t forget to check us out on our Facebook and Twitter feeds to find out the latest and greatest news, reviews and contests. Feliz Navidad!
Some notable players with prominent content are starting to get in to the business of making web apps in HTML5, bypassing the App Store entirely. Amazon has launched HTML5-capable versions of both their Cloud Player for music, and Cloud Reader for reading – and (more importantly for Amazon) buying – Kindle books. However, it’s entirely another thing for content from large multimedia multinational conglomerates to show up in a web app form, especially considering the DRM hurdles that Netflix has had to jump through with supporting devices on Android. However, it appears as if thanks to the power of one of the biggest multinational conglomerates of all, Walmart, movies and TV shows are showing up through the browser for iPad owners.
Walmart owns the video-on-demand service VUDU, and that service has just launched the ability to view their content through the iPad’s Safari browser. By visiting http://vudu.com/movies, users can immediately browse through VUDU’s entire library of content. There are various trailers and previews available to sample the content available from VUDU; sadly, all content is standard definition only on iOS, and some movies are specifically unavailable on the platform. Movies and TV shows can be either rented or bought from the service, and should be available for watching across the multiple platforms that VUDU is available on. Video watching is available in full-screen, but it does not appear to support AirPlay as of this time.
It does seem as if the web app revolution will be launched by big companies who don’t want to be pushed around by Apple and their restrictions, especially when they have their own financial interests at heart. If Apple won’t let them make money through the App Store, then they’ll just find another way to leverage the millions of iOS devices out there, and if in doing so, they push into new frontiers of technology. That could ultimately be beneficial for consumers who don’t have to be limited by Apple’s restrictions to get the content they want. It could also benefit Apple in a way – they have been pushing HTML5 as a replacement for Flash, and with these new web apps not requiring Flash, they’re only pushing their own agenda further along.
There has always been a preconceived notion that Apple’s multimedia devices such as the iPod, later the iPhone and now the iPad, would be making drastic changes to how people consume their daily dose of information. Though they have all been successful in their own right, there was a chance that these devices could be cannibalizing their own market share due to their overlapping feature sets. The problem was nobody could back that up suspicion with concrete data. Well, at least that was the case until the Nielsen Company’s blog released some interesting survey results which you can see in the chart below.
As you can see in the chart, any kind of visual media, whether it be books, television programs, movies or even magazines, shows a significant viewership increases over the previously market-leading iPhone equivalent. While this may not be something that is worth getting overly concerned about, it may mean that advertisers may be changing the way they try to reach their audience.
This is the kind of change that is to be expected, just by virtue of the iPad having more real estate on the screen for optimized viewing. It is a good example of the consumer choosing a superior viewing experience over the convenience of having the device on them at all times. You can also notice that though the iPad has made significant strides in the visual media, it still trails far behind in the audio medium, because like the iPhone for visual media, it is not the optimal platform for consuming this type of content.
So what does this mean for you, the consumer? Simply put, you can expect to see larger ads that take better advantage of the abilities that the iPad provides going forward. Sure, it might not be a complete game-changer, but expect the world’s marketing departments to go where the customers are: The iPad. We’d love to see this trend continue for a long time time to come.
I’ve written in the past about the iPad’s impact on the magazine industry, but the iPad remains just as important to newspapers as it is to magazines. The Congressional Research Service’s 2009 report on the newspaper industry found that this could be the “worst financial crisis [for the newspaper industry] since the Great Depression.” Tablets and new form factors have brought new hope to the industry and many newspapers have made the iPad a crucial pillar in their digital strategy. Beyond paywalls, the iPad represents a significant potential revenue source. The iPad’s release has brought with it scores of digital newspapers, among them storied brands like the New York Times, the Financial Times, and the Times of London.
The WSJ App's Front Page
New Form Factor, New Opportunities
The iPad is one of the first computing platforms to mimic the form factor of magazines and newspapers. Many newspapers have tried to port their publications to the iPad while maintaining many of the same visual styles and layouts that their readers are accustomed to. Some attempt to add interactivity in the same manner WIRED Magazine did, with the occasional slideshow and manipulable photographs.
Yet despite the traditionalism of most of the newspaper apps, I’ve found them invaluable. No longer is it necessary to carry a newspaper or two around. The iPad is an invaluable companion on a commute. I’ve found myself downloading all three of my favorite newspapers (the WSJ, FT, and NYT) in the morning and reading them all on the train. It really is terrific to have the iPad function as an all-in-one book, newspaper, and magazine reader. The Kindle may have the ability to download newspapers, but its functionality is nowhere near as robust as that provided by the iPad.
Highlights and Disappointments
The Financial Times application has been my favorite thus far. The app also won an Apple Design Award this year. The app includes the FT’s terrific content in a well designed layout, with great video content no more than a touch away.
Financial Times App's Markets Section
Moving between articles and sections is intuitive, and it doesn’t take much time to download an edition on the way to work. The app adds serious value, however, by linking into real time financial information. The FT, a paper designed for businessmen, allows users to look at the financial markets at a glance, providing a great overview of the currency, stock, and equities markets. The WSJ has some great features as well, including the ability to save articles and editions for later. I like how the app keeps the past couple of editions of the paper for perusal. The New York Times, not to be left behind, has also released a solid application.
There are, however, still problems with each application. One is common to all newspaper and content applications in the App Store – the inability to download content in the background. Instapaper developer Marco Arment has lamented the issue in a great post about iOS4. We can only hope that Apple will start including some mechanism to allow users to download content in the background with a future OS update.
As with magazines, newspapers are seeing reinvention and innovation on the iPad. Established media brands have begun paying serious attention to the platform, and it promises to pay off for them in the future.
iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
Posted May 27th, 2009 by Kevin Stout Our Rating: :: EH...FREE VERSION MAYBE
Here's my advice on this one: If you want a shopping list, try out the free version... but it's hard to even suggest that. For something to catalog your media (DVDs, Books, etc), do NOT waste money on this app.
After almost a year of waiting for this app to hit the shelves, we wind up with a watered down version that all the other mobile platforms have already been enjoying for the same price they paid for a full featured version.