Back in July of this year, I reviewed a highly rated Mac App Store app called “Photo Album” and found it to be very disappointing and lacking quite a few basic features. FlippingBook, the developers, has just released version 2.0 with new and improved features that hopes to bring their score up and become open to a new set of users. I will be looking at the new version and comparing to the original, and will also provide a fresh perspective.
The goal of Photo Album is to allow users to take all of their photos and transform them into stunning photo albums that they will share with family and friends. As a promotional special, Photo Album 2 is 25% off the regular price. Will version 2 erase all of version 1’s shortcomings? Read on to find out!
To get all users adjusted to the interface of Photo Album, the app has a built in guided tour that will familiarize you with all the ins and outs. As with the last version of Photo Album, the app is nothing without the integration with Albm.com. This web service is where all of your albums will be hosted once you finish your creations.
It is very easy to sign up for Albm.com, all you need to do is visit the website to sign up and use those credentials in the Photo Album app.
When you want to publish your albums to Albm.com, all you need to do is click the publish button and then you will get options on how you would like your album to appear. You can choose your “online scheme” which is a preselected look for your page.
You can also create a custom scheme using your own images to add that extra custom flair.
While the core function of Photo Album is to arrange your selected photos into albums, the app still has extra features to allow users to have more control. Photo Album not only gives you access to your iPhoto library and Pictures folder, it also gives you connectivity to online services.
Picasa and Flickr integration is built in and you can access your different albums and pictures right within Photo Album. All you need to do is sign in from within the app and then you can start your selection process.
Although version 2 is much improved, I still would like to see more editing capabilities within the app. The extent of the album editing capabilities is only changing the layout to another built in layout. There is no way to actually grab a picture frame and place it where you want it, as I would like. Also, this app has no built in photo editing functions. It would be nice if there were a way to add simple filters to photos or add different borders and frames.
Look & Feel
Since version 1, the design of the app has matured to an understated elegance as opposed to jarring hardwood patterns shooting out at different angles. Instead of looking like the interface is a mix match of all the different styles Apple uses in their built in iOS apps (i.e. linen, hardwood bookshelves, and etc.), Photo Album now possess a cohesive styling that promotes the feel of thoughtful design.
While flipping through your photo album in design view, the app uses simulated page turns to accompany that flip. I find that this is a little unnecessary for edit mode and it also slows down your production ever so slightly; however, some may never think it to be a problem.
Photo Album’s interface is divided into three main sections: the main view window, the album pages slider section, and the libraries window. At the top you have buttons to publish your album to albm.com and print. On the bottom you have “+” and “-“ buttons to add or subtract album pages.
Overall, the interface has received much needed refinement and is cohesive as far as the styling of the main sections are concerned.
While this update to the app is much needed and a good revision, I feel like I am yearning for some other features to make this a “one stop shop” app for photo albums. The primary user of this application is not one that will touch up photos in Photoshop or add filters with other apps; these users want their pictures to look good and easily have them integrated into a sharable album. Photo Album has the photo album part done pretty well, but I would like to see some very minor photo filters and adjustments that can be made inside the app. I understand the primary goal of the app is to create photo albums, but it seems that this functionality would be a pretty good addition to the app.
Also, I would like the ability to customize my album beyond the point of scaling a picture and choosing a preset page template. Photo Album would benefit from allowing users to freely move images to place them where they see fit and not only where the developers saw fit.
The Verdict Is…
Photo Album version 2 is a healthy and substantial update to the original that did not score as well with me. Photo Album 2 has changed the interface and made it more cohesive in design. Also, the app has a great variety of themes that compliments most users’ needs. The problem comes in with the lack of minor photo filters and lack of template customization. Overall, the app is now recommendable and with a few minor updates it will be just right.
As it stands now, I give Photo Album a 7 out of 10. By making the minor adjustments I suggested, it could really be an 8 or perhaps even higher. Photo Album 2 was just released and can be found in the Mac App Store. It is priced regularly at $19.99 with a 25% discount for a limited time.