Because the amount you love your children is directly proportional to the number of photos you share. Fact.
Sharing photos can be a minefield, especially family pics. To tag or not to tag? Facebook or Snapchat? And why has Great Aunt Jill joined Tinder?
A mate of mine incurs the wrath of his wife every time he shares anything more than the FTSE 100 index on Facebook, mostly because she reads all those Facebook scare stories. (Although you have checked your settings, recently, haven’t you?). She went ballistic when he posted a baby scan pic up, considering it a gross invasion of privacy of her unborn child. (Incidentally I recently asked our sonographer whether she could tell the difference between babies at 20 weeks. “Nah,” she said, “they all look the same. Unless they have a particularly big nose, or a big, you know…”)
So here’s a new answer: Lifecake. We’ve been giving it a test run, and it’s shaping up really well. The idea is that you upload pics and videos of your children, and they then appear on the devices of anyone you’ve invited, in an attractive, minimalist timeline. You set the permissions for each viewer: ‘parents’ have full admin rights, and can post ‘moments’ to Facebook. Those with family permissions are limited to viewing, adding and downloading pics, and content is sifted via various magical means to surface the stuff that’s likely to be of greatest interest. It’s elegant, simple and intuitive.
In essence it’s not a million miles from a shared Photostream in iOS, but there’s one big difference: Lifecake works across desktop, iPhone, iPad and Android devices. That’s seriously difficult to do well from day 1, and reflects the experience (and money) behind the London-based Lifecake creators.
There are a bunch of options for getting pics into the system: you can import them from a Facebook album, Picasa or Instagram, or use their desktop uploader to dump folders full of pics.
Unfortunately you don’t yet get your metadata, so if you’ve invested a lot of time in captioning your pics, it’ll be a cut-and-paste job. If you’re using a program such as iPhoto you’ll need to export your photos first, as they’re not stored in a neat, user-accessible folder structure. And because of the way that different sites work, dates can get jumbled up, too (pretty crucial, since the whole idea is timeline-based), though co-founder Nicholas Babaian told Dadhacks, “we’re thinking of ways to make it easier to quickly change dates in our apps and site.”
So how much, daddio?
And what about pricing? This is interesting. You get 1GB free, with more space when you refer friends. If you pull your photos from social media, where they’ve already been downsized, this will go a long way: around 2000 Facebook pics, by my reckoning. But if you were to import those photos at full size from your hard drive – where they might well be 5-8MB each – you’d hit the limit with no more than 100-200 pics, even quicker if you import video. There’s good reason for doing it that way, too – see below.
There’s one premium option, which buys you a chunky 100GB for £25 a year. That compares favourably to Google Drive (£36 approx p.a.), or Dropbox (double that), although the comparison isn’t a great one as the latter services are a lot more flexible. If you want to quit Lifecake, you can download all your images in one handy zip file.
There’s one other trick to Lifecake that’s worth flagging: it’s very much set up to produce photobooks – in fact that’s one of the factors that allows them to offer the cheapest tier for free. Within a few clicks you’ll have an 8″ square, 40-page, 80-photo book ready to order, for £25 (comparing well with Photobox, who charge £30 for 26 pages). It’s big on simplicity, low on options: only one photo per page, for example, and there’s only one size available. You’ll want decent resolution photos to make a beautiful book , mind you; that’s why you might want to import the high res versions rather than those from Facebook. I’d be wary of investing lots of time using pics from social media, only to find out later that you wish you’d used your original shots.
Is it enough?
The big question remains: does Lifecake offer enough for you to consider switching – whether that’s from email, Picasa albums or Facebook?
Speaking personally, I’m less concerned about the privacy aspect. Do I trust Facebook? Not entirely. But I also subscribe to the idea that anyone born today will find themselves all over the internet whether they like it or not, in pics that are likely to be considerably less flattering than ones I post. But the lack of metadata support is a pain: I caption my pics, and don’t much fancy the idea of manually shunting that info across. And finally, Lifecake is in a highly competitive field: there were a couple of big-budget photo-sharing casualties last year, and no-one wants to get their nearest and dearest signed up to a service that won’t stick around for long.
But the fact remains that I like it, it’s cross-platform, and it’s simple. The free option will be enough for anyone who just wants to share pics easily and securely, but if you’re going to get the most out of the service you’ll probably need the reasonably priced premium tier. Give it a try.
Credit for discovering Lifecake goes to Dadhacks.de, which I discovered while finding out which cheeky monkeys had beaten us to the punch for a domain name. My German is non-existent, but my mate Google’s pretty handy. So “hallo und herzlich willkommen!” I really hope that’s not rude.