I now have one week left on my MobileMe subscription. £59 is a lot to pay when there are free (or cheaper) alternatives. I’ve spent the couple of weeks looking for a photo sharing service that could replace the web gallery. I decided to try out Flickr as I already had a pro account (usually $25 but I get it for free with my ISP, BT).
I have been using the MobileMe gallery as a means for family and friends to easily see my photos rather than me having to print them out and post them. (This of course assumes they have internet access and know how to use a computer. Not quite there with my in-laws yet but we’re working on them!) Flickr, of course, can do far more than just share photos with distant family. It is a social network where you search for photos, send comments, join groups, all sorts.
MobileMe’s web gallery allows you to upload as many photos as you like (well, up to a 20GB limit also shared amongst its other webapps). Flickr’s free account lets gives you 100MB of uploads per month but unlimited total storage. However, you’ll only be able to see your 200 most recent photos. The pro account allows unlimited uploads and storage with access to all your photos.
It’s really simple to get photos into the web gallery – it’s all done through iPhoto. Create an album, click the MobileMe button and Bob’s your uncle. The titles and metadata are also uploaded. Each time you make a change to the album in iPhoto it automatically syncs it again so MobileMe always up to date. It’s really incredibly easy.
To get your pictures into Flickr you need to download the free Flickr Uploadr and drag in your photos from iPhoto. Like the web gallery, your titles and metadata are also uploaded. You are given the option to change the titles and assign tags to your photos if you wish. Unfortunately it doesn’t use the keywords you have already used in iPhoto. You can also choose to put your photos into a set (or album) or collection (a group of albums). (I should point out here the free account only allows you 3 sets whereas the pro account is unlimited.)
There is another option for getting your photos into Flickr. A £12 iPhoto plugin, FlickrExport does much the same as the free Flickr Uploadr. However as it’s built into iPhoto you only need to select photos rather than drag them in and it also uses iPhoto keywords. If you were uploading large quantities I think this would be useful as assigning keywords in iPhoto and then having to repeat it all again for Flickr is tedious. For now, as I’m dealing with fairly small numbers I think I’ll stick with Flickr’s free offering.
When it comes to actually viewing photos MobileMe does a lovely job. It’s clean, simple and you can even skim the photos in an album in the same way you skim events in iPhoto. Flickr in comparison is cluttered and less intuitive to use for my computer-unfamiliar relatives. Viewing the photos as a slideshow looks good though. Flickr also shows far more metadata than MobileMe and you can geotag your photos which is fun.
Although my main intention had been to use Flickr for friends and family to see pictures of the children, I’m rather enjoying the social aspect of it. It’s fun looking at other people’s photos – some of them are just incredible. And I’ve found it useful to be able to search for photos taken by others using the same camera I have. It’s inspiring to see what they have been able to do with it.
Advantages of MobileMe web gallery
- easy to add photos
- easy to sync photos or albums that have been updated
- attractive, intuitive interface
Advantages of Flickr
- being able to view others’ photos
- interactive – others can leave comments
- unlimited storage [Edit: added later as I forgot]
The MobileMe gallery may look pretty but actually, overall I think Flickr does a better job and I’m going to stick with it. If you fancy having a look at my snaps they’re here.
Next step, where I am going to put all the movies I have on my web gallery? I’ve only got a week left to decide…