Three Little Words that Trigger Disappointment

Piled TechThree little words tell me so much about someone’s attitude about their software values.

The conversation usally happens after I mention an app or web service provider. Perhaps I mention how much I like Instacast. Or maybe I show how I love the Instapaper iPad app. Possibly I’m blabbing about how SmugMug is a great way to show off and sell photos.

And then it happens. The first words out of their mouth. Or maybe not the first words, but it’s usually not far behind.

Is it free?

I sigh. Sometimes audibly, sometimes internally. I’m disappointed. I’m disappointed that we’ve reached a situation where free has become the standard by which comparisons are made. Software is hard. Applications and web services represent the results of dozens, hundreds, or thousands of hours of work. And the response when I suggest a great $2 application often begins with “is it free?” This response comes from someone usually carrying a $200 smartphone for which they’re paying $40-100 each month.

The software or services in my examples will help you keep up with news and entertainment, improve your reading experience, or allow you to archive and present your creative works in a beautiful way. And you sit and hem and haw about whether or not it’s worth the price of a coffee.

The Oatmeal said it well.

The Retina-Savvy Photographer

Looking upward at the top of the 125-foot-tall Astoria Column.The new iPad should start arriving in folks’ hands tomorrow, offering a nice “retina” display with a resolution of 2048×1536 pixels.

At what resolution are you posting your images to the web?

John Gruber notes:

…most graphics and images on the web are behind the curve, as of today. Text looks great in Safari, but non-retina images look slightly blurry. The iPad display is so good that it shows, like no device before it, just how crummy most images on the web are.

How is your photography going to look on the web? I know that my SmugMug galleries contain high-res images that are resized as appropriate, but I’ll be evaluating my photos elsewhere.

What does this mean for those who are paranoid about image theft to the point where they only post low-resolution imagery to the web?

Are your clients, friends, and fans going to find your photos look great at high-resolution on their new tablets, or will they wonder why things are so small or fuzzy?

iPhoto for the iPad: My Question (and Reaction)

Update: iPhoto was in fact announced. Further thoughts at the bottom of this original article.

Please do not handle.  At Pike Place Market in Seattle.Some well-reasoned pundit speculation about the hours-away iPad 3 announcement indicates we may see iPhoto announced for the iPad. You’d think I’d be all excited about that as a photographer, right?

I’m an Adobe Lightroom user who’s found the experience of editing photos on the iPad to be clunky, awkward, and slow. These problems weren’t because of software, but because a finger-touch system is a crappy way to make precise photo edits. iPhoto won’t fix that.

Why should I care about a system that will involve importing photos from some external camera device, editing them in a clunky interface, and managing them in a system which isn’t compatible with Lightroom?

What am I missing?

Update after the announcement: Apple did announce iPhoto for iOS (both iPad and iPhone). I might load it on my iPhone, but I’m pretty sure I’ll never really use it on the iPad. As I mentioned when I wrote this piece last night, the issue isn’t software – it’s hardware and workflow. I don’t capture images on my iPad… so if I’m going to spend the time to import images onto another device for editing, why would I import to the iPad (with a limited set of photo editing tools) instead of my MacBook Air (with Lightroom)? And when I’m done editing and want to share the photos online, would I rather do that from the iPad one-app-at-a-time interface where sharing/uploads are often clunky, or would I rather do that as a Lightroom export including the various publish services?

Path and Failed Trust

Path LogoI just deleted a blog post draft that probably would’ve been published later today explaining how I was really enjoying Path. I was going to talk about how it’s a logical evolution that tells interesting stories as opposed to the game nature of Foursquare.

Today it was revealed that the Path app uploads a user’s entire address book (including all contact information) to Path’s servers. Users are never notified of this occurring. Path’s CEO jumped into the comments and confirmed this is happening, and that they have future plans for an opt-in.

I’m done with Path. For a company to make such a move without any sort of notice is unacceptable. I have deleted the app and made a request to have my account information deleted.

If you’d like to delete your Path account as well, here’s the how-to article. When contacting them, be sure to let them know why.

iBooks Author’s EULA and Why It’s Fine With Me

Apple iBooks Author EULA License ControversyIn a rare departure from the usual course of events, a significant number of folks are up in arms about a Terms of Service / EULA issue and I don’t think there’s any problem at all. Yes, I’m one of those rare creatures that pays attention to such things (heck, I even gave a talk about giving your rights away at Ignite Portland a few years back). And while some prominent writers feel that the terms of the license agreement for Apple’s new iBooks Author program are “so achingly awful”, they seem reasonable to me.

The Terms and the Disagreement

The portion of the license agreement in question specifies two things:

  • Content created with iBooks Author and given away for free may be distributed via any means
  • Content created with iBooks Author and sold may only be sold via the iBookstore (run by Apple and subject to a 30% commission)

Those objecting to the terms are objecting to the second; their argument seems to be that Apple should allow the content to be sold via any means possible and not restricted to the iBookstore.

My Response

Keep in mind that Apple is a for-profit corporation. They’re a corporation which has made several innovative moves that have pushed us forward, but they’re a corporation nonetheless. They aren’t offering iBooks Author and the iTunes textbook store purely out of the good of their heart; they’re doing it because they feel their innovation will move the industry forward and they will make a lot of money in the process.

From my first few weeks with my original iPad, I’ve felt that Apple could benefit by making some sort of toolset that easily allowed for content to be published for the device. Apple has now done just that. The resulting book can’t be sold for Android, or for PCs. Apple has provided a tool that allows content creators to better create content for Apple’s iPad device.

If the terms of iBooks Author are that horrible, textbook vendors (or any other ebook authors) are welcome to continue creating their content via other methods and distribute as they have in the past even through the iBookstore. The terms only apply to the authoring tool. No rights or abilities have been removed from anyone. Anyone can still create and distribute content for any platform, including the iPad, in all of the ways that they could 24 hours ago before iBooks Author was announced.