You don’t have to be a designer to be surrounded by images you need and love. There’s always Instagram, pictures you were tagged on Facebook, a cool infographic you saw at a random page, photos from your child’s birthday or your New Year’s party. Snapping a picture is so effortless these days we even burn ‘film’ on our so-so everyday meals. We’re swarmed by images, some of them we’d like to store.
Regarding this personal matter, we recently reviewed Ember, but some readers weren’t satisfied by its terms of acquisition and lack of a few features to justify its price tag, some even mocked it as nothing but a private Pinterest. Among the comments, we heard of a promising upcoming app, currently in beta, called Inboard. Can it rekindle the flame of our image libraries?
Inboard comes with a dark theme and a simple structure. Folders and tags are kept on the left, your images in the middle and the information regarding selected images on the right. You can narrow down the displayed images by using a tag or making a live search. As you select more than one image, the information panel will show tags they share and tags added will be applied to both.
You can add new images by dropping them on Inboard or using the “Add New” option. Every image is placed in a nice responsive grid, which adapts as you add more items or resize the thumbnails. You can also sort your images by date or title and order them. If you double-click a picture expecting editing tools, you’ll be frustrated since Inboard has none, reinforcing its aspect as a library.
Any organization system requires a great search and even though Inboard’s search is smooth, I wish it could be more complex. It doesn’t need boolean operators, but would be nice to have autocomplete for your tags and saved searches as smart folders. At the moment, the support for tag search is poor as you can’t look for more than a single tag and get satisfying results.
I also have a huge personal issue with tags displayed among folders and default options, since most of us use plenty of tags to cover every hierarchy limitation, they clutter the sidebar entirely. I’ll always stand up for tags in a different panel (I find Yojimbo‘s Tag Explorer as the perfect way to handle it), but that’s a general issue of other apps as well, such as Evernote.
Tweaking your library
Inboard doesn’t have a RSS feed to collect your images, however, it integrates with your Dribbble account and grabs your liked shots. It would also be fascinating if you could link your Instagram likes or tagged Facebook pictures, because that’s what a personal library of images is about.
It’s still easy to add images from the web to Inboard — just drag and drop it on the menubar icon and Inboard will prompt you to change title or add tags. But it doesn’t stop there. The menubar also offers a few screenshot options. It’s not as resourceful as LittleSnapper or Pixa, but it is good enough to store entire websites or parts of your screen to Inboard.
However, Inboard has been promoting itself as an application to “build a creative library that organizes your screenshots” and that merit comes with an issue. Most screenshots are taken for immediate action, not storage, which means these apps must be great mediators, the image must stay there, but putting them in should be as effortless as pulling them out. Opening the app just to drag an image out is definitely not a great example of it.
Stripping down features
If you compare Inboard to every other application of its kind, you’ll notice how it has far less features than the competition. Actually, it’s the simplicity that stands out. Don’t think of it as a screenshot tool, but a personal image library, because that’s the way it is heading. Among the future plans of Inboard you’ll find iCloud sync, video support and folder sharing, the last one being the most significant for a supposed social side of the application.
Considering it as a library, it becomes the final destination of your images, you’ll drop things there and forget until the day you need them again, and since including images from anywhere, especially from the web, is easy and unobtrusive, Inboard turns out to be a great candidate for the job.
This focus would still require improvements for the future, such as the aforementioned integration with social networks. Seamless integration is more familiar to the average user than RSS feeds, most of us don’t even know what the latter means, while we can easily spot a Facebook badge and understand its purpose.
The minimal UI of Inboard holds a lot of potential, at its actual state it is already a fast and stable beta, but just a glimpse of its Twitter account makes it clear the developers have big expectations for its next features. Also worth mentioning, they said when the app goes out of beta, it will be “at least half the price” its newest competitor. Therefore, let’s hope this zeppelin doesn’t burn into ashes as the Hindenburg did. What a picturesque choice for an icon!
If you’re interested, you might want to join their public beta and make your own conclusions.