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MobileMe Replacements: Photosharing

Posted by on 13 March, 2012


MobileMe is dead, long live MobileMe!  Or at least as of June 30 2012, Apple is shuttering MobileMe in favor of its iCloud service.  MacWorld, MacLife and other sites have done comprehensive reviews of the new service, as well as what this means for users dependent on aspects of MobileMe that Apple is not migrating to iCloud.

Apple even has their own transition page on the topic listing what services will be available in the new service vs. MobileMe; three are not coming over: iWeb Publishing, Gallery, and iDisk.  For some folks, this will engender panic, but no worries, there are a bevy of services out there to take care of us.

iWeb Publishing

iWeb already offers the ability to publish to an FTP folder, but DropBox has got you covered (see either the story from TUAW or MacWorld on this).  Get ready to use something different as an editor in the next year, though, as Apple isn’t going to be updating iWeb anymore.  Check out for the latest on iWeb.  Hence, this post will focus on Photosharing only.  The next one will be on iDisk.


OMG, how is my family going to see my photos anymore?! OK, hold on.  Apple is bringing PhotoStream into the iCloud service, but this only covers photos that you take with your iPhone, iPad, or import into your Mac’s iPhoto library.  They’re all sync’d between your devices, but this isn’t where Grandma goes to see your vacation from five years ago.  This is the last 1000 photos taken.  For those of us who like sharing photos and video with relatives, we’re looking for something new, hopefully something that won’t complain about copyright laws when we add background music to a HOME MOVIE. (You Tube and Vimeo currently check for this, seriously annoying how the DMCA is infringing on fair use)

So what can we do to get an online photo sharing service comparable to what MobileMe soon will have been?  There are a LOT of options, most with a “freemium” spin to their basic free services.  Let’s compare some basic features that encompass cost (monthly), getting photos uploaded, viewing photos, and security.

Your Own Blog

Do you see me trying to do that anymore? Nope.  Could I? Yeah, with some concentration.  But then when I want to make a photo book or something, I’m just uploading to one of the other services anyway…


We’re all on it aren’t we? It’s free.  Downsides are of course that your grandmother, once friended, may see your 2am drunk status updates (not mine, yours.  Like I do that sort of thing!)  And you can’t download full resolution photos.  And it complains about copyrighted music being added to videos.


This site offers a free program, which places some restrictions on the user.  At first glance, one can sign up using one’s facebook login.  Nifty and scary, it didn’t work all the same.  After repeated attempts.  Creating my account from scratch gave me a snapshot of my limitations: 10GB in bandwidth, unlimited storage, smallish resolution (2048×1536).  “Going Pro” at 1 year costs $24.95, with a small break for a two-year plan, and removes a lot of the limitations, though still places a 4000x3000px cap on photo resolution, so no cameras above 14Megapixel I’m guessing (and I am guessing).  Photobucket offers an iPhoto plugin that allows uploading from directly in iPhoto, and offers the ability to automatically reduce file size based on account limitations.

The iPhoto plugin also allows (and the service too) video upload, but none of the restrictions seem to apply to this.  Oh well, here we go anyway! By the way, while that progress bar goes, sharing on PB seems easy…too easy?

Too easy…it’s flash-based.  Yuck.


SM offers a free trial, but begins charging after a couple weeks.  $5/$8/$20/month, it looks like the middle option is the most basic one that allows unlimited HD video uploads.  It also looks like they give quite a break if you pay annually ($40/year vs. $60 for a year of month-by-month for the basic plan, similar discounts for other plans).  Smugmug immediately offered to create an album and have me upload pix, but didn’t say anything about connecting to facebook.  Honestly, you’ll probably want to upload fresh photos anyway, as facebook compresses them on upload.  Uploaded three pics and a video offered me a smart interface with progress bars…that failed on the first try.  Second try got me success! The video thumbnail showed up as a “processing image” icon, ostensibly the service is crunching and compressing it on the server end.  Yes! It automatically creates lower resolution versions (I uploaded a 1280×720 30 second clip from my GoPro) and displays them in mp4 format. And they allow embedding of slideshows OR individual photos and videos:

So far SmugMug is winning me over.

Embedded slideshow of a gallery:

Argh, it just links to the gallery.  Which allows you to play a FLASH-based slideshow.  Let’s see if it’s smart enough to detect when I browse to it on the iPad.  It is!!!  If a video is in a slideshow, it doesn’t play though.

ZangZing gives one a free 2GB account, then starts charging above and beyond that.  25/50/100GB for $5/$10/$20 a month with discounts on annual plans.  It immediately connected to my facebook account, and imported everything.  Nifty.  Oh, but it doesn’t do video (yet; customer support says it’s on their list of to-dos).  Boo.


Snapfish offers a video upload subscription for $3/month or $25/year (30 day free trial no cc requried).  It connected immediately with my facebook account and offered to import album-by-album (rather than Zangzing’s bucket dump).  It appears their basic account is free, they just pimp out their printing services to make money.  Uploading an album from fb worked fine, and then sharing offers you to email a link, or share with a link, or post to one of the many social networks available.  No video uploads.  No embedded slide shows.  Nope.


Shutterfly  has a similar upload screen to snapfish (think archaic quicken register), but also lists an iPhoto exporter plugin, which I downloaded.  Nifty!  The plugin wasn’t available right away from iPhoto’s export menu, but quitting and restarting the program let it show up.  I logged in to the preferences area, chose three (3) photos for upload, set it on “fastest” just to see how it worked and let it rip.  The upload even brought in my titles and comments/description.  The interface is still from y2K though, and the slideshow is flash-based (no html5 or ajax here).  Ick.  No embedded slide shows in my blog.  Sharing is limited to emailing a link or facebooking a link.  It does do video, but…I can’t stomach it.


Flickr had me a few years ago, until I actually tried to show off the photos I was uploading.  I even had a pro account ($25/year) for a couple years.  There are some limitations to free accounts.  Their user interface hasn’t changed, but it appears their sharing ability has.  Check out this embedded slideshow:

Ugh, it’s flash too. But it looks like Flickr knows if I”m on an iPad, and allows me to view a slideshow w/o flash.  Very cool.

Here’s an embedded video:


Kodak Gallery

Kodak Gallery has a recently released iPhone app (sorry, no iPad-specific version as yet), and so I gave it a try.  The webpage offered to let me connect using my facebook account (yay for fewer logins and less privacy?), which worked just fine.  It even offered me some free prints for joining.  Let’s upload some photos!  Oh wait, the IOS app doesn’t have a facebook connect and that’s how I joined.  Hold on…ok, wait the web page is offering to upload from fb or my computer.  Let’s just get an album up there and then deal with the iPhone thing.  OK…no wait, now the album is empty even though I just told it to import a 90-photo album.  OK, second try worked.  Now for the iOS thing…ah ha, it needs me to create a password.  Enter email, check.  OK, it sent me an email.  Now it says the password has been reset and I need to create a new one by clicking on the link…done.  New password created, I go back to the iPhone…and I’m signed in! Wait, it shows that I have 180 photos in my album.  I guess it imported them twice? Refreshing the web page now also shows 180 photos.  OK, I need to delete duplicates.  It has no way of checking for dupes.  I have to check 90 photos to delete.  OK, wait, does this even do videos?  NOOOOOO.  I’ve just wasted 15 minutes.

OK, so thus far, the tried and true Flickr has seemingly revamped its ability to display stuff, and smugmug is seriously slick and configurable.  I know that there have historically been some good flickr plugins for wordpress as well.  So here’s how they stack up.

Photo Sharing Service Comparison
Flickr SmugMug
Cost (month/year) $1.67/$24.95 $5-$8-$20/$40-$60-$150
full res downloads? Yep Yep
embedded sharing? videos, photos (flash) videos, photos (non-playing link)
desktop integration? paid iphoto plugin,
free desktop uploader
web uploader, various ancient third-party uploaders
iOS integration? various viewers, uploaders Camera Awesome, (free uploader), iPad app (free, but doesn’t recognize fb connect)
map data? oh yeah, it does hmm, this too

The services look nearly identical in spec, let’s get the magnifying glass out.

SmugMug: photos are 50MB in size max, shouldn’t be an issue.  Videos are 20 minutes in length max and they specify 1080p (for the “power” and “Pro” levels).  They complain about users infringing on copyright though, so the whole thing may be moot.

Flickr: photos are 20MB in size max, shouldn’t be an issue…yet.  Videos are 90 SECONDS in length or 500MB.  Ack.  Can’t publish using this spec.  And it’s only 720p.  And they appear to be checking for licensed content, which rules out bg music in videos.

I may be just hosting here…in the meantime, I’m downloading some creative commons “music-video-safe” tracks:

One Response to MobileMe Replacements: Photosharing

  1. steve caturan

    I’d like to suggest a not very popular photo sharing service I help maintain called – – we use Menalto Gallery (open source) as our platform served over HTTPS – please let us know what you think.

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