Recently a friend asked me for help. He wants to be able to securely share his images with family members around the world in an online arena. A place where everyone can post images and comment on them. My first thought was set up a private group on Facebook. But Facebook for all its popularity is actually quite cludgy when it comes to sharing images. At least I think so. My next thought was Flickr. But then, through discussions and searching online I realized that there are actually quite a few options. So how does one decide? With all the technology out there who has the time to figure out what is the best option for their needs? So I thought I would do the research and find out what the different technologies offer.
There are two elements that come into this discussion. Sharing images with friends and family and backing up images to the “cloud” otherwise known as a paid, secure environment on the internet. Instagram, Facebook and Flickr were developed as sharing platforms. Google Photos, Apple iCloud and Amazon Photos were developed as archiving platforms but may have extra features. Depending on what you want to do with your images will determine your choice of platform. Some people prefer to back up their images to their computer and external hard drives and share a couple images on Facebook. Others are looking for low tech solutions that allow them to share and secure their images at the same time.
The goal is to find the simplest solution that anyone can use. When I worked in website development we often had one guideline. Could our mother figure it out. This was not to disparage our mothers. It was really was a question of simple, easy to use, easy to find web site technology for people who didn’t grow up with the internet. As it happens, my mother is currently needing a new solution for her images as Picasa is now defunct and will no longer be supported. We have to find a replacement software that she can use. So the game is on.
To keep the project from getting out of control, I am going to define certain features that I’m guessing people might be looking for. Please feel free to comment after this post if you think something should be added to the list and I will look into it for you.
As I review the options out there, I will be using the following criteria:
- Automatically backup my photos from my phone to either my computer or the cloud.
- Manual options to upload photos from your computer to the cloud (if you prefer to work that way).
- Instant access to the images and an ability to view them in case my phone or computer dies.
- What are the storage size options and corresponding fees.
- What are the online sharing and upload options with family members. How do they get access, can they add images etc.
- What are the privacy settings. Can albums be set up with passwords.
- Can everybody comment and like images (similar to Facebook).
- Can images be grouped into events, or albums. Can they be tagged.
- Can members download images for printing or send out to be printed, book creation options.
- Are there image editing options.
- Can you email an album or slide show to members that may not be so tech savvy.
I’m going to start with Google Photos. Other software for review: Apple iCloud, Facebook Private Group, Photo Gallery (Microsoft) , Flickr, Shutterfly, and Amazon Photos. Please let me know if I have missed something. Stay tuned for the next post.