It’s 2012 and the web and mobile devices are capable of amazing things, which is why it’s so surprising to me that some of the simplest things are still so hard.
I’ve got the latest iPhone with its 8MP camera and HD video camera, complete with iOS 5 and I pay for extra storage on iCloud. Apple’s supposed to be the best at designing simple user experiences across hardware and software – and I believe they are.
So when I want to take a bunch of photos and videos that I took from my iPhone and share those with some family members, it should be simple right?
Yet it’s not. Sure, there are some solutions:
- The “Share” button in iOS that only lets you send one video at a time.
- Facebook app so you can worry about privacy and exclude your family who’s not on Facebook. And still not easy to upload a bunch of photos/videos.
- Dropbox app is alright for uploading but then you’re worrying about how much space you’re using (those were HD videos, after all, and you don’t want to reduce quality), you have to wait for uploading, you can’t browse your photos/videos by thumbnails – only filename, and worst of all there’s no easy way to share several photos/videos at once to somebody.
- Kicksend – getting closer, but can’t send both photos and videos together, can’t compress or send while the app’s not open, and the recipient has to download the files to their computer and open them one at a time. Seems simple enough but that is tough for some people – why can’t there just be a simple way to look at them online?
Even dragging out the USB cord to plug my phone into my MacBook Pro doesn’t yield a simple solution. Open iTunes, iPhoto, etc. – haven’t found the answer. Dropbox comes the closest with its new “Camera Uploads” feature (which has been out less than 1 year) but still doesn’t cut it when it comes to sharing specific photos/videos after uploading.
Here’s what I would hope for from Apple in 2012:
- Buy latest iPhone.
- Take photos and videos on iPhone.
- Tap a couple buttons to select photos and videos to share.
- Choose who to share them with, press Send.
- My family gets sent an email link to a webpage with thumbnails of the photos and videos sent, with a one-click way to view each of them. Could even be a native app experience if the recipient is a Mac or iOS user.
What’s important are the things that shouldn’t have to be a part of the process:
- No large email attachments or file downloading required for the recipients – a web browser can be a great way to browse media and is certainly the simplest, and Apple has already been killing the file metaphor on mobile.
- No long on-screen waiting for uploading or compressing – Apple is already uploading my stuff in the background for Photo Stream so this should be simple.
- No special apps to download – Apple has always been a “we take care of all of the basics ourselves” type of company.
- No worrying about storage space in the cloud – this is 2012 and disk space is super cheap, and I’m already making Apple gobs of money on the hardware. Fine, I’ll pay extra for iCloud even but it shouldn’t be something I could fill up easily like Dropbox. It should feel unlimited.
As a developer and product designer, I recognize that pulling this off is no trivial task. You’d have to design a whole web app for viewing this media, build a super scalable backend to handle it, make iOS changes, etc. Hardest of all you’d have to make sure this fits into a larger product vision.
That leaves a big hole for other players to fill. Dropbox, Google, Facebook – you’ve been given a big wide open opportunity to shine, but so far have not impressed. So listen up entrepreneurs, Apple executives, and young dreamers: the field is wide open for better products – have at it!