Instagram – a Fun New Social iPhone Photo App

You’ve probably already seen these if you follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or Flickr, but here are some random photos I’ve taken over the last couple of days with [Instagram]( – a fun new iPhone app that focuses on taking quick photos, applying some filters, and sharing them with your friends.

Got an Apple Magic Trackpad. Love it so far.

When the otaku geek “influencers” I follow got all excited about Instagram, and I read what it was, I couldn’t quite grasp why they cared. Yet another app where I have to find and follow my friends? Why not just use the existing networks? And I already have [Hipstamatic]( and a ton of similar photography apps on my iPhone for when I want to make hipster pictures.

Why, yes. I *am* wearing a Hello Kitty bandage.

But with Instagram, the whole is more than the sum of its parts. It does have great integration with Flickr, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and even Foursquare. It is super quick to take a picture, apply a filter, and share it. And there are lots of really nice design touches (especially in the News tab) that make it a joy to use. And it’s free.


That’s not to say that it’s perfect. I quickly discovered that the images it uploads (and saves to your local Camera Roll) are only 612×612 pixels. That’s tiny.

Instagram pics are only 612x612 pixels. WTF?

After I [complained about this on Twitter](, the Instagram folks invited me to [submit a full resolution picture option as an improvement on their GetSatisfaction page](, where lots of other people chimed in, and the developers agreed it would be a great feature. Hopefully it will come soon.

Sync in Progress. Story of my Life

So, if you have an iPhone, and like pictures, grab Instagram, and follow me (I’m jabancroft there, same as everywhere else), and get ready for lots of hipster-ized random photos that make no sense, but look real nice. πŸ™‚


Flickr Now Lets You Embed Slideshows

Just noticed (via a blog post from Frasier Spiers, the guy who wrote the awesome Flickr Export for iPhoto and Aperture) that Flickr now apparently lets you embed slideshows in your blog/other places. Is this new? Frasier says it is, but others on Twitter are telling me it’s been there for months. I don’t recall it being there before, and I’ve never seen one used before today. But maybe I just haven’t been paying attention, and this is old news. Anyway. (Update: Apparently this feature is about two months old, according to the Flickr Blog, but I couldn’t easily find anything about it in my searches, so it obviously needs more attention. πŸ˜‰ )

For demo’s sake, here’s a slideshow of my set of photos from the PC Mall in Shanghai, China:

This seems to work anywhere you can view a slideshow on Flickr – any set, any photostream, etc. (Hint: when in doubt, try adding “/show” to the end of the Flickr URL.) Look for the “Share” link in the upper right corner of the slideshow. You can customize the embed code, with different preset sizes (small – 400×300, medium – 500×375, large – 700×525, and super-sized – 800×600), or enter a custom size.

The slideshow itself appears in Flash, which means it won’t work on the iPhone (bummer!) or any other browser/device that doesn’t support Flash. The embedded slideshow has all the same controls as a normal Flickr slideshow – previous, next, jumping to a specific photo, etc. Oh, and they’re supported inline in Google Reader (like YouTube and a few – but not all – other embedded content types):


I can see myself using this feature a LOT. Quite often, when I have some photos to share, I’ll do a post with one or two representative photos, and just a plain text link that says something like “check out the rest of these photos in this set on Flickr”. Now, I’ll be able to embed the whole set of photos right in the post. That makes me happy. πŸ™‚


Welcome, Gizmodo readers. More Shanghai PC Mall photos over here…

Gizmodo’s Elaine Chow has a post up entitled “How To Buy Gadgets in China and Not Get Screwed“, in which she uses (with permission) several of the photos I took at the Shanghai PC Mall when I was there in April.

If you arrived here from the Gizmodo post, and would like to see some more photos of the PC Mall, I have many. There are a few in this post, Photos: Shanghai’s PC Mall – 5 Stories of Computer and Electronic Goodness, and the whole batch of 34 are available in this set on Flickr.

Shanghai PC Mall at night
The Asus Eee PC is popular and widely available
PSPs and Wiis
iPod Nano knockoffs

Enjoy! πŸ™‚


Best way to upload photos from an iPhone, and preserve location information (or: review of Flickup for iPhone)

I use Flickr to store my photos online. You can “geotag” your photos on Flickr, to show where, exactly, they were taken (on a map). I’ve geotagged most of the 4000+ photos I have on Flickr. By hand, dragging them to the correct location on the map. What a pain.

The iPhone, with the new 2.0 software, can take pictures and tag them with your current location (if you have an iPhone 3G with real GPS, this location information is usually MUCH more precise). Suddenly, the dream of being able to get photos from the iPhone to Flickr, WITHOUT having to manually geotag or othewise manipulate them, seemed to be within reach.

So close, yet so far away.

Right now, there are a few ways to get photos from an iPhone to Flickr. The easiest, I think, is to setup the “upload by email” feature on Flickr. This gives you a secret email address that, when sent a photo as an attachment, uploads the photo to Flickr for you. This is how I get iPhone photos onto Flickr 99% of the time. The downside is, the photos get sent at a much smaller size (640×480) than they were taken at (1600×1200). On top of that, all of the “EXIF” metadata (what make and model camera took the picture, what exposure settings were used, etc.) gets stripped off of the photo when it’s emailed. This includes the geotag/location information. So it arrives at Flickr shrunken and lobotomized and unaware of where it was taken. So sad.

Once the App Store launched, Flickr uploader apps started appearing in droves. AirMe seems to be a popular one, but I tested it, and it didn’t preserve the geodata, (and I think it shrunk the photos, too). So I deleted it.

I’ve been watching the development of an app called Flickup with interest. The author, Martin Gordon (@kodachrome22 on Twitter), is someone I kind of know from Ars Technica. But most importantly, the feature list of Flickup looked promising – it can upload photos and preserve the geotag/location information. It’s not free ($1.99), so I waited a little longer to try it than I would have otherwise, but try it I have, and I’m pleased (if not 100% ecstatic) with the results.

First of all, Flickup DOES preserve the geotag information of the photos it uploads (with a caveat):

Flickup Geo Test

This is a photo I took from within the Flickup app, and uploaded straight to Flickr. The app asked me for permission to use my location (like all location-aware iPhone apps do), which I granted, et viola! The photo appears on the map where it was taken (to the best of my iPhone’s knowledge). Click on the photo then click “map” to see it – I can’t figure out a way to direct link to a single photo on the map on Flickr.

Even better, for photos taken from within the Flickup app (as opposed to uploading saved pictures from the Photo Album), the photos go up to Flickr in their full 2 megapixel 1600×1200 glory.

If you’re looking for an app ONLY to take pictures, and send them directly to Flickr, you can stop reading here. Flickup is perfect, and does everything you’d expect it to (you can edit the title, description, and tags of the photos, etc., too).

So what are the caveats? They have to do with uploading saved pictures from the iPhone’s Photo Album.

First, when you upload a saved photo from the album, it goes as a shrunken 640×480 version. Martin says this has to do with some limitations in the iPhone’s APIs (which I believe). He also says that the API is the cause of all the other EXIF metadata being stripped from the photos (which is probably what makes this such a problem in the first place – fix your stupid APIs, Apple!) Don’t count this against Martin or Flickup.

Second, when you upload a saved picture from the album, Flickup WILL geotag it, but it appears to grab your CURRENT location (it asks), rather than use the location data stored in the photo. In other words, it will geotag the photo with the location of where it was UPLOADED, instead of where it was TAKEN. Martin acknowledges this is sub-optimal.

Flickup from Photo Album Test

(A photo uploaded from my Photo Album, but geotagged at the time of upload.)

If what Martin says about the Apple APIs stripping out EXIF metadata (and again, I have no reason not to believe this is true), then there’s probably no way for Flickup (or any other photo uploader app) to preserve a photo’s ORIGINAL location information. The best we can hope for is how Flickup works – tag it with the location at the time of upload. If you take photos and upload them immediately, then there’s really no difference. But it’s super annoying that Apple comes SO CLOSE to making this work the way it should, yet falls short in the home stretch.

So, is Flickup worth the $1.99 in the App Store? If you’re a Flickr user that cares about a) uploading pictures at full size instead of 640×480, and/or actually preserving all that fancy location data that your iPhone can tack onto your photos, then yes, absolutely. Flickup is the way to go for full size geotagged Flickr uploading goodness.

There’s still room in this field for perfection. But it seems that it will depend on Apple making changes to the photo and location APIs on the iPhone, or some really clever developers figuring out ways to get around those restrictions. Guess which one I’m betting on happening first? πŸ˜‰


World Exclusive: I got to play with the Lenovo and Aigo Mobile Internet Devices (MIDs) at Intel Shanghai

There are only about 20 Mobile Internet Devices (MIDs) existent in the world. Most of them were in Shanghai last week for the Intel Developer Forum (IDF). 10 of them were in the Mobility Software Enabling Lab at Intel Shanghai, where I got special access today to shoot photos and videos, as well as some hands on time to play, with the Lenovo Ideapad U8 MID and the Aigo MID. They also had some other devices around for comparison – an old prototype UMPC with a pivot screen, a Samsung Q1 Ultra Premium UMPC, and a Fujitsu Lifebook UMPC. And I threw my iPhone in a few of the photos for size/comparison’s sake.

I’ll post a more detailed writeup of my impressions of the devices soon, as well as the video of the time I had with them (summary: the Lenovo Ideapad U8 looks and feels wonderful in my hands – I WANT one!). I spent several minutes on video with each device, examining the hardware and UI/software features. Right now, thought, it’s almost 1 AM, and I need to get up early to do a blogging training with the Intel Shanghai software guys. But I wanted to get these photos up and available as soon as possible.

Please post any comments or questions you have either in this post, or on the photo’s page on Flickr. I want to answer all of your questions, but I’m going to sleep for a few hours, and don’t want to miss any of them. Please be patient, and I promise I’ll answer all questions. πŸ™‚

The entire set of 33 photos is available in this photoset on Flickr. Feel free to browse through all of the photos (bonus photos: some shots of the Intel Shanghai sales offices, which occupy floors 22-24 of the ShanghaiMart tower). Click here to view as a slideshow, and you can see full size/resolution versions of every photo on Flickr by clicking “All Sizes” on the photo’s page.

And now, the photos! Here are some that I think turned out best – be sure to check out all 33 photos in the Flickr set!

Aigo and Lenovo Mobile Internet Devices (MIDs)
Aigo and Lenovo Mobile Internet Devices (MIDs)
Fujitsu Lifebook, Samsung Q1 Ultra, Lenovo MID, Aigo MID, prototype UMPC
Stack: iPhone, Lenovo, Aigo, Fujitsu, Samsung
Stack: iPhone, Lenovo, Aigo, Fujitsu, Samsung
Keeper of the MIDs, Lenovo Ideapad U8

On Top of Shanghai – View from the Tallest Hotel in the World

I shot 350 plus photos this afternoon and evening, walking around Shanghai and the Huangpu riverfront. And I’ll put all of the good ones on Flickr, eventually, but I just HAD to share this one immediately:

Shanghai from the Cloud 9 Bar, 87th Floor of the Hyatt

Click it to view the photo on Flickr, then check out some of the larger sizes. I snapped this about an hour ago from the bar on the 87th floor of the Shanghai Hyatt, the “tallest hotel in the world”. It occupies the 50th through 87th floors of the building that houses the Shanghai stock exchange. And the view is astounding.

Thanks to Kelly, Tammy, and Jay, who I ran into on my way back to my room, for “shanghai’ing” me into going back out with them. The view alone would have been SO worth it, but the company and conversation were great, too. πŸ™‚


A few iPhone photos from Shanghai

It’s been a whirlwind two days. IDF just got over, and for the last two days, I’ve been shooting video of keynotes, sessions, demos, and other interesting stuff. Since all my video gear is kinda heavy to lug around, I haven’t bothered taking my Nikon D40 DSLR with my, to take many photos. Now that I’m done with the heavy duty video stuff, I’ll have my camera with me much more while I’m here in Shanghai, and will take and post some more photos.

In the mean time, here are a few that I’ve managed to shoot with my iPhone. Some of these turned out pretty well, if I do say so myself. As always, I love it when you comment on my stuff, so let me know what you think, and enjoy! πŸ™‚

Shanghai Promenade
Super Brand Mall, Shanghai
Super Brand Mall, interior
My first meal in Shanghai: McDonald's
Intel Developer Forum 2008 Shanghai

You can, as always, see all of the photos I share on Flickr.


Photos from Beach Getaway to Lincoln City, Oregon

Rachel and I took a short two night getaway to one of my favorite places on the planet, the Oregon Coast, last weekend. We dropped Emma and Gabe off at Grandma’s (thanks Grandma! πŸ™‚ ), and headed over to Lincoln City. Of course, I took a ton of photos while we were there (more than three hundred). I narrowed them down to 100 “keepers”, and posted 60 or so of the ones I’m most proud of to Flickr in this photoset (you can browse them all there, watch a slideshow, etc.).

You can, of course, click on any of these to view the original on Flickr, including all sizes up to the original/full size versions.

Rachel Beach Fill Flash

Many of these were taken by Rachel, who just has a natural ability with a camera. I read books and try techniques and think and analyze, and get usually mediocre pictures. She just picks up a camera, and out comes magic. I’m totally jealous, and totally proud of her creative abilities (which extend far beyond photography). πŸ™‚

Beach Driftwood

Anyway, on the drive over to the coast from Salem, we actually ran into a heavy snowstorm in the mountains. As in, the trees were white and there was accumulation on the road. Later that night, when we were at dinner (Blackfish Cafe, recommended by friends on Twitter, was excellent), it snowed in Lincoln City itself – there was snow piled up and melting on the car when we came out. Weird weather for the first day of spring. But we lucked out the next couple of days – the skies were clear and blue, and it was warm and nice (for the coast in March πŸ˜‰ ).

We went for a late breakfast (OK, it was 11:30 AM, so it was practically lunch) at Pig N’ Pancake. Mmm, bacon… *drool* After that, a walk on the beach, of course!

Lincoln City Beach People
Rachel Beach Walking
Rachel at the Water

If you’ve never been to the Oregon coast, you don’t know that the water is FREEZING COLD. All year round. So, after my first couple of trips to the beach after I moved here, I learned my lesson, and I never go down to touch the water when we go to the beach. But Rachel, a native Oregonian (and part hippie), has to commune with the salt water every time (that’s my way of saying she took these pictures of the water). πŸ˜‰

Beach Foam Divider
Beach Reflections
Beach Birkenstocks

While Rachel was splashing around, freezing her toes off, I found a nice driftwood log, and did what I always do when I have a few minutes to myself – pulled out my iPhone, read some feeds in Google Reader, and chatted with friends on Twitter. πŸ˜‰

Josh Reading Feeds on the Beach
Josh on the Beach

Obligatory picture of my trademark orange Crocs on the beach (“the Crocs shot”):

Orange Crocs on the Beach

We got some really cool silhouette shots of people when we shot directly into the sun and its reflection on the water and wet sand.

Beach Couples Silhouettes
Tiny Beach Dog Owner in Pursuit

Of course, there were people with dogs everywhere. We felt out of place without a canine companion. Maybe next time we can rent one for the weekend, so we can fit in with the dog people.

Beach Dog Girls
Beach Dog Girls Running

I love how none of the girls’ feet are touching the ground in that shot above. Of course, Rachel took that one. πŸ˜‰

After a while, we retreated to our room, and took a nap. We watched the sunset from our room’s balcony, which was RIGHT on the water. As in, look straight down, there’s the sea wall, and when the tide comes in, the waves lap at the foundations. It was actually kind of creepy. πŸ™‚

Drain Colors

But the sunset was awesome, of course! And I took way too many pictures. Even after culling and throwing a lot of them away. I couldn’t help myself.

Rachel Sunset Balcony
Lincoln City Sunset Colors
Sunset Sand Water Colors
Reflected Beach Sunset

There was a flock of seagulls hanging out on the roof of the hotel next door, so of course, I was trying to take all kinds of artsy pictures with them.

Sunset Seagull
Sunset Seagull Cruise
Sunset Seagull Flock

And finally, I got some really strange/cool pictures thanks to a GIANT floodlight mounted on the roof of the hotel next door. It lit up the whole beach for hundreds of feet in all direction, and lit up the white foam of the waves especially well. Of course, I was out on the balcony at 10:30 PM, trying to take some pictures of the phenomenon.

Beach Night Floodlight
Beach Night Floodlight

Like I said before, you can view all 60 or so of the photos I uploaded in this photoset on Flickr. Leave me a comment on this post, or on any of the photos there. Photography critique, suggestions, ideas, thoughts, or whatever. I crave interaction and feedback, so let me have it! πŸ˜‰


Photos from Adobe MAX 2007 in Chicago

Here’s a slideshow of the photos I’ve been taking here in Chicago, and at the Adobe Max 2007 conference. I’m here a for a couple more days, so I’ll be adding more. They should automatically appear in the slideshow as I add them to this set on Flickr (where you can see any of them in more detail, full size, etc.).


Created with Admarket’s flickrSLiDR.