Back in October I posted a
rant request that Windows Photo Gallery, one of the apps I turn to the most in Windows, be updated. It is May and I am pleasantly surprised with the Windows 10 Insider Preview builds, specifically with the upcoming Windows Photo App. The Photo App is a “universal app” meaning it will run in Windows Mobile as well as in Windows for the Desktop. As it stands now it sports great OneDrive integration and decent editing features. However, compared to Windows Photo Gallery it is still lacking a lot of features. I have feeling, that the Photo App is meant to replace Windows Photo Gallery, given recent announcements of similar universal apps which previously came with the Windows Essentials suite. The Photo App build which is publicly available right now is quite simplistic and might not impress, yet. Still, I do see quite some potential here.
Some of the simple features I like so far
1. “Save a Copy”- When I edit photos I prefer to leave the original alone, and prefer a copy of it. It is nice to see a button which quickly does this. Simple feature and quite useful.
2. Good editing options, touch enabled – It feels wacky using a mouse on my desktop, but you get the hang of it quickly.
3. Simple UI – There is no feature overload on the UI. Photos stand out beautifully.
4. Great OneDrive integration.
5. Much welcomed Albums feature.
Where I hope this goes
Again, this is a preview build, quite buggy. I have worked as a software developer and tester so I am used to playing with buggy apps. I have not seen any information out there like a product roadmap, but I can sort of envision a great photo organizer. What follows is my hope on how it will evolve into:
I took a screenshot of the current Photo App preview and edited it in good old Microsoft Paint adding “Folders”, “People”, “Tags” and “Places” menu items to give a better visual idea on how I wish Photo App evolves into:
This is a modified screenshot. New menu options were added – Folders, People, Tags, Places.
Here are some of the things I believe are missing:
I am guessing that Collections refers to the “General” view where all your photos are displayed.
- Filter Options – Filter options similar to those found in WPG where you can Group By, Sort By. If I wish to view files taken a year ago, there does not seem to be a quick way to do this in this view.
- Search – A search box would also be nice. Advanced users could enter wildcards and operators like with Windows’ File Explorer for searching among vast collections. (Example: Display photos with a rating if 3 stars or more).
- It’s all about the Metadata – Better File Information – When a single or multiple files are selected, display an option (similar to the Information button in OneDrive) which brings up a window which displays file information (metadata). Be able to view and edit essentials such as:
2. Star Ratings
4. GeoTag (Location, City, State-Province, Country as well as lat and long using a map)
5. Date/Time Taken
7. Author and Copyright Information
8. Display Read-only info such as Camera Make/Model, Aperture, ISO, Exposure, Focal Length, Exposure Bias, File Dimensions and File Size.
The expectation is like WPG, the Photo App adheres to the existing metadata standards.
Right now the File Info window in the Photo App is quite “plain”, to say the least.
Current Windows Photo App (Preview) – File Info window is quite “plain”. Displays minimal information which is read-only.
For comparison: How file information is displayed in the OneDrive Web App:
File Information in OneDrive. Too bad you cannot edit the location where the photo was taken.
For comparison: Flickr for iPhone app, brings out essential information about the photo in a neat way. Some of the fields are editable.
Flickr’s Mobile App- File Information is quite nicely displayed, good images. Some information is editable.
For comparison: Current Windows Photo Gallery “Tags and Action” Pane. Fields are editable, quite useful. Can be used to edit metadata in multiple-selected files.
WPG File “Tag and Actions” Pane – File Information is provided and editable from this pane, it is quite convenient, especially when selecting multiple files.
This feature is quite nice. Often you take a gazillion photos when on vacation or of a particular event but you only wish to share a few. This is a feature I thought was missing from Windows Photo Gallery.
- Album Sync – I am guessing these albums will somehow sync with OneDrive’s albums, in the preview build I did not see my OneDrive Albums sync with Photo Apps.
- Some Auto-Awesomeness – It would be nice that albums extend the photo experience with cool maps. Google for example, has “Stories”, where automatic stories are created. It would be nice that something like this be created using the albums. Also, a good “Album” map could be generated using the data from geotagged photos, plotting the locations of where photos where taken on a trip.
- Shared Albums– Photos from contacts shared to you via OneDrive.
- Albums from other services– This might be a bit of a stretch but with a good and secure API you could access your photos stored in other services in the forms of albums. You could create albuns, add, edit/replace, remove or download photos from these albums. I am thinking of services such as Flickr, ShutterFly, SmugMug, Facebook, Instagram, Walgreens, and *gulp* Google. A button could provide print ordering, photo books or canvas size prints from these services or launch their respective apps.
I previously saw on a demo this menu option, which was marked as a “coming soon”. For some reason it is not in the recent build. This one is a no-brainer, especially on the PC. It would be nice to be able to navigate your folder structure. On the PC at least, it would be nice to have an “Open file location” like WPG has so that Windows File Explorer opens with the file selected.
This is a menu option I added, but given that Photo Gallery provided Be able to search based on faces as well as provide a Batch People tagging feature similar to the one in Windows Photo Gallery.
One of the “Feedback Games” included in the Preview Build encourages users to test out Facial Recognition engine. So my guess, is that an improved Facial Recognition will come to the Photo App eventually. I spent quite some time tagging my close friends and family with Windows Photo Gallery, I do hope that the information contained in the People Tags XMP ports over.
- OneDrive Sync Integration – At one time, the people tags from photos imported over to Facebook would sync back to Windows Photo Gallery. It was an interesting feature, because some of workload of People tagging was shifted to your friends. One of the things I hope MS will bring with OneDrive is the ability for friends and family to help you add People Tags to your shared albums and have that data sync back to your photos on your PC.
OneDrive iOS already groups photos by tag, so why not include them here as well?
- Display photos based on tags –Have an option to Sort as well as display which photos do not have any tags.
- Image Recognition – Up until now tagging was a laborious manual undertaking. Microsoft has made enormous advancements in the field of image recognition (http://projectoxford.ai). Onedrive recently started adding automatic tags to photos on the service and I hope this feature makes its way back into Photo App.
- Magic View – Flickr recently added a similar feature recently, which they call “Magic View”. Flickr differentiates tags which have been manually added to those added automatically by image recognition. In Flickr’s “Magic View” one can view your photos grouped by the added tags and improve the image recognition engine identify mistakes. So it would be nice to have tags which have been manually added differentiated from those which have been machine added using image recognition, and be able to review and “confirm” computer vision added tags so they can be saved to file as tag metadata as well as inprove the recognition engine. Right now, automatically added tags in OneDrive are not saved back to the file metadata.
Places should be menu item which leads to a view where photos are grouped based on the locations taken, similar to Windows Photo Gallery “GeoTag View”. One thing that irks me from Window Photo Gallery and OneDrive is that the Location field is often not displayed or ignored, only the city and state are shown. That sort of Ok to some extent, but if I wish to hone in on a particular location, like a particular restaurant where I took photos the location name would help.
- The location, when available, should be highlighted – I mentioned in my previous post that Instagram and Facebook “nails it” leveraging the Facebook Places database. Instagram previously used Foursquare (prior to being acquired by Facebook). Google Views for example has an interesting approach in which it asks you – Was this photo taken at this <park, restaurant, museum or other location>?.
For comparison: Windows Photo Gallery allows the user to “Rename a location” if the reverse geocoded name is not desired. The updated information is saved back to the XMP metadata location fields. Unfortunately, Windows Photo Gallery does not allow you to edit the GPS location of the photo, like other applications such as Google’s Picasa.
Windows Photo Gallery edit geotag dialog window.
- Map View – An option to display a map (similar to Flickr’s Map View) clustering all photo locations. Photo thumbnails could be displayed on the bottom.
- JPG quality option – User should be allowed to set the JPG quality as in Windows Photo Gallery.
This may or not may happen, I am actively participating using the Windows Insider Feedback tool and I am keeping my hopes that this app grows into a powerful and useful photo app.