Review: PhotoFramePlus for iPad

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PhotoFramePlus for iPad

PhotoFramePlus for iPad is an app that helps you turn your iPad into a lovely digital picture frame when it’s not in use – with a clock and calendar added into its display.

I love the idea of using the iPad as a photo frame when it’s not hard at work, I’ve been looking forward to this app since I first heard it was coming to the iPad, and I bought it and installed it as soon as I had a chance.

Sadly, although the app ‘does what it says on the box’ it is a disappointment to me in its 1.0 version.  Read on for some quick reasons why …

PhotoFramePlus offers up three galleries for you to make use of.  Gallery 1 is the ‘built-in’ one, populated with a dozen very nice nature photos (one of them is shown in the screencap at the top of this post).  You can use these if you like or, as I imagine most will end up doing, delete those and fill out the gallery with photos of your own.

PhotFramePlus iPad app

Galleries 2 and 3 are empty and waiting to be filled up with your own favorite pictures. Well, when I say filled up, what I mean is filled up with 20 pictures of your choosing – as each gallery only holds that amount.

In any of the galleries, you tap on any of the 20 squares shown and then choose a photo to be placed in it.  You’ll see everything in your Photo Library on the iPad to choose from.

Here are my big disappointments with the app so far:

— There is only space for 20 images in each gallery.  I have a 7 year old daughter, a lovely wife, a big goofy dog, a brother with a lovely wife and family, in-laws who I adore, and so on.  20 photos per gallery and 60 photos total just doesn’t begin to cut it in terms of what I want to see in an iPad picture frame. Sure I can change out photos within my 20 for each gallery, but I honestly don’t fancy messing with that – I have albums chock-full of photos I love, and I want to be able to choose all of them.

— You cannot multi-select photos when filling in one of the galleries.  You have to tap the square you want to work with, choose a photo from an album, return back to the gallery, choose another square, and so on.  Not fun.  We’ve had multi-select in the Photos app itself and numerous other apps for the iPhone platform (which iPad is part of) for years now, why is it missing in this app?

— You can only choose to show one gallery at a time.  So you’re limited to 60 photos total at a time, and only one gallery of 20 being shown at once.

— All of these limitations put PhotoFramePlus well below the iPad’s built-in Picture Frame capability. With that, it is super easy to select which albums (including multiple albums at once) you want to have displayed.  You can select full albums for inclusion or exclusion with just one tap. There’s zero need to manually select one photo at a time.  See my tips post here for how to work with the iPad’s built-in picture frame:

I had been hearing PhotoFramePlus talked about as a digital photo frame for the iPad ‘but so much more’ or (as per their App Store description) ‘something a little more special’.

Well … if having a clock and calendar displayed alongside your pictures is a big factor for you, then the app may live up to its billing.  You can tap a toggle bottom of the screen to switch to viewing a full year calendar (and even switch over to 2011 or other years’ views).

For me though, by far and away the most important thing about a picture frame app is its ability to handle my pictures – to show them to me in whatever cool ways, but to let me choose which and how many to show. I imagine there are no Apple-imposed limitations here, as the app is certainly capable of seeing the entire photo library – so Version 1.1 needs to bring far better photo handling capabilities I’d say.

The clock and calendar are nice little extras  – not anywhere near enough to make up for the limitations with photos though.  I hope this one will improve with age.

You can find PhotoFramePlus in the App Store now, priced at $2.99.

Patrick Jordan

Founder and Editor in Chief of iPad Insight. Husband, father to a lovely daughter, Commander of the Armies of the North, dog lover (especially Labs), Austinite, former Londoner, IT consultant, huge sports nut, iPad and mobile tech blogger, mobile apps junkie.

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2 thoughts on “Review: PhotoFramePlus for iPad”

  1. Hi Patrick

    Chilli X here (developers of PhotoFramePlus). Thanks for the review and useful feedback. One thing I'd like to point out in our defence is that Apple don't allow us developers to reference pictures in their Photo app library – in other words to use them in our app we have to copy them and import them in.

    This is obviously not ideal for users with large libraries and seeing as how we didn't have access to actual iPad hardware during development we decide to err on the safe side and limit the import to 3 galleries of 20 pics each rather than release an app plagued with memory problems and crashes.

    Rest assured, we'll release an update with the ability to handle more pictures as soon as we can be certain it will be stable.

    Thanks again for the review.

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