Google Photos: A New Contender in the Photo Management Race

googlephotos

As expected, Google has announced Google Photos, a free-standing photo storage and management service, free from entanglement with Google+.

Google Photos gives you a single, private place to keep a lifetime of memories, and access them from any device. They’re automatically backed up and synced, so you can have peace of mind that your photos are safe, available across all your devices.

Best of all, storage is unlimited, with resolutions up to 16MP for photos, and 1080p high-definition for videos.  The service promises easy, intelligent organization, powerful search, and robust sharing features.

Even as an Apple devotee, I am open to other ways to organize, store and manage photos.  I’m interested to see how Google incorporates its search expertise into its photos experience.  When the service becomes available later today, I’ll surely take a look.

Here’s a video in the meantime.

30 Days Out: Thoughts on the Apple Watch

applewatch

As many of you know, it happened again.  After trying to convince myself not to buy an Apple Watch, I capitulated to the inevitable and ordered one.  I’ve learned the hard way that the least inefficient way to order a new Apple product on pre-order day is via the Apple Store app.  So, I set my clock for 2:00 a.m., and used my iPad to order a 42mm space gray aluminum model, with a matching black sports band.

Here are a few thoughts, after a month:

1.  Getting used to wearing a watch again is the hardest part.  Until my Apple Watch arrived, I hadn’t worn a watch for many years.  Now I wear one from the minute I get up until the minute I go back to bed.  Because I use the watch as a fitness monitor, I don’t want to miss any steps.  I’m getting used to wearing a watch again, but it takes an Apple Watch to get me there.

2.  The fitness tracking is good and accurate.  I’ve worn a Fitbit for years, and I’ve always known that it over-reports steps and, to a lesser extent, mileage.  The Apple Watch is very accurate on both.  Happily, it even measures my treadmill steps when I cheat and hold on.  This is important.

3. The battery is not an issue.  Period.  I’m usually at 50% charged or better when I take it off.

4. It’s all about the notifications.  Getting a quick look at incoming email, texts and other events is both the most useful thing about the watch and the thing the watch does best.  The app screen is a jumble of too small icons.  Glances work reasonably well, as long as you keep the number low enough.  Apps are slow to load.  I rarely use them.  Hopefully native Apple Watch apps, promised for later this year, will speed thing up.  I love the way you can delete all notifications at once.  I hope we get this on other Apple devices.

5. At least at this stage, the Apple Watch has not crossed over into the non-geek universe the way iPhones and iPads have.  I’ve never seen another Apple Watch in the wild.  In fact, even at the Apple Store (when I went to get yet another broken iPhone screen replaced for a family member), it was an ohh and ahh moment for onlookers when I paid my replacement fee with my watch.  The people who have noticed my watch so far have treated it as a curiosity, as opposed to something they can’t wait to get.

6. The sports band is a fine watch band.  The smaller of the two that come in the box fits my wrist perfectly.  Using the last notch, the end of the band tucks slightly into the slot, making for a very comfortable experience.

7.  It’s not so big that it seems clunky and burdensome.  I’m sure future models will get thinner (seen a first generation iPhone or iPad lately?), but it sits on my wrist pretty unobtrusively.  I’m starting to forget that I’m wearing it, which as a non-watch wearer is a very good thing.

8.  Apple Pay will be the defining feature.  I love the ability to pay for things in a second or two with my watch.  I can’t wait to use it at a third location (the Apple Store and Walgreens being the two current locations I frequent that accept Apple Pay).

In sum, I’m sold.  I wonder, however, just how far the Apple Watch will penetrate into the non-geek, non-athlete crowd.

Time will tell.

If She Asks You How I’m Fairing

cdtrudy

“So call up Trudy on the telephone
Send her a letter in the mail
Tell her I’m hung up in Dallas
And they won’t let me out of this jail.”

Very possibly the best country rock song ever written.

We Can Stand All Night in the Cedar

ccatws

“No don’t sing for me darling, no don’t say a word.  You’ve got the eyes of a liar and the heart of a bird.”

Through that Rain, Wind, Ice, Sun and Snow

mommdporch

As far as I can tell based on my limited experience (if I am, in fact, the reincarnation of some Middle Ages noble like that psychic on Kirby told me just before she cleansed me of his evil deeds for a nice chunk of drunken change, well I don’t remember it), if in a lifetime you can fill up a hand or two with people who care for you and have your back for the right reasons, you’ve done well. Most folks could work a sawmill for a century or so and not run out of fingers.

On the other hand, most folks start out with one person squarely in their corner.

My mother didn’t always understand me. She surely had high expectations for me. But she loved me, and, at least when the chips were down, she had my back. I didn’t always recognize this at the time, but years without her have taught me the value of an ally. Joni Mitchell was right. Almost everyone loves their mother. Almost every orphan loves their mother a lot.

Kent & mom (BW)

My mother also, more than anyone else, made me who I am– the good and the bad. For sure, my fear of debt and need for self-sufficiency come directly from her. As I got older and realized how many viewpoints I share with her, it was alarming. Surely, I wasn’t turning into what my teenage self vowed to avoid. The older I get, however, the more I realize it’s OK.  She knew a lot more than I thought she did. And I know a lot less than I act like I do.

Young folks dread growing up and becoming their parents. Old folks hope they do.

As Mother’s Day approached, I found myself listening to this song a lot.

Call your mamma sometimes
She misses you
She can’t help she’s all alone
Stay away from all that whiskey
But don’t stay away from home

Yep.

Hug ’em if you got ’em.  I miss my mother.

Like Glass into Sand Video

So the tree one of my security cameras was on fell during a recent storm, and I had an aiming fail when I reinstalled it. So I made a music video for a song Ronnie Jeffrey and I wrote a while back.

Yes, this song is available for your next record.

Copyright Ronnie Jeffrey & Kent Newsome
All Rights Reserved

The New Photos App is an Incomplete Work in Progress

applephotos

Apple released the OS X Yosemite 10.10.3 update today, which includes the new Photos app, which will replace my beloved iPhoto as well as Aperture, for photo management on the Mac.  There’s a lot of coverage on the new app, so I’m not going to do a full review- just the conclusion.  I’ve been using the developer preview (on a secondary machine) for a while, and I think it’s a good app and a suitable replacement for photo management on the Mac.

Except for one inexplicable, deal-killing omission.  There is no longer an easy way to edit photos in an external editor.

In iPhoto, it was so, so simple to open photos in an external editor- in my case, the wonderful Pixelmator– edit them, and immediately save them back to iPhoto.  Just a few keyboard clicks, and the edited photo was back in its proper place in your iPhoto album.

The process for doing this in the new Photos app, well, doesn’t exist.  You have to manually export the photo, open it in the external editor, edit it, save it and re-import it into the Photos app.  This is simply unworkable.

In prior instances, Apple has added missing features to new or redesigned apps via updates.  They will need to add back the ability to easily edit in an external editor before the Photos app will be a candidate to manage my photo workflow.