I recently purchased a Lumix GF3 (more on it later) and I've been taking more pictures than normal the last couple of days. While importing my photos into Aperture 3 I glanced across its top bar (above) and got to thinking about my options for sharing my photos on the Web.
My photo workflow is pretty typical:
import photos to Aperture 3
upload photos to MobileMe Gallery
share a link with friends
The problem is that Apple is dropping MobileMe Gallery on June 30, 2012 and it isn't offering an alternative service to replace it. MM Gallery is on death row and I wouldn't bank on pardon from Tim Cook at the 11th hour. Users that are holding out hope for late reprieve from Cupertino should take some additional data into consideration.
Witness the notice that greets you when signing up for iCloud. It makes no mention of Gallery, iWeb or iDisk (emphasis mine):
When you sign up for iCloud, you'll be able to keep your MobileMe email address and move your mail, contacts, calendars, and bookmarks to the new service.
Your MobileMe subscription will be automatically extended through June 30, 2012, at no additional charge. After that date, MobileMe will no longer be available.
Consider also that Apple has released iPhoto 9.2 beta 3 to developers minus Gallery support, it only includes Photo Stream. (Curiously, Apple hasn't released a beta of Aperture 3 with Photo Stream.) The final nail in the MM Gallery coffin for me was WWDC. It would have been the perfect time to announce an enhanced (premium?) feature like iCloud Gallery but the silence was deafening and no announcement came.
Apple's abandoning MM Gallery forces users to make a rash decision. What should I do with all the photos I just imported into Aperture? It just doesn't make sense to upload them to a defunct service like MM Gallery because I'll just have to move them later on. What's the point?
The water's rising on MobileMe island and me (and my photos) are moving to higher ground.
An angry mob is forming in this 20+ page Apple Discussion forum thread -- and it isn't pretty. One commenter feels "utterly betrayed," another "slapped in the face" while another feels that Apple succumbed to greed. Many of them seem especially miffed that they loyally paid $100 every year for the service, when numerous free/cheap options were available.
Disappointed users are saying that Apple's new Photo Stream doesn't cut it either. Photo Stream is a syncing service, with photos only being stored in the cloud for 30 days. You need to sync all photos back down to a PC or a Mac before they get deleted on the 30th day.
The worst part is that Apple isn't offering a new photo hosting service that users can easily transition to. So you've got to download all your photos and videos from MobileMe before next June or they'll be deleted. This leaves loyal customers that bought into Apple's one-click photo galleries high and dry.
Apple Discussion user alansky1 notes that MobileMe Gallery was the most visually appealing of the photo-hosting services:
Some of us are actual photographers rather than snapshooters, which means that we value the aesthetics of the presentation as well as the contents of our photos.
With MobileMe Gallery on life support, here are some of the top photo-hosting options that you should be researching:
Facebook has prime placement in Aperture 3 tool has too many privacy concerns for most. What happens to your private photos when Facebook decides to change its privacy settings overnight? Also, FB makes its money by sharing your information with advertisers and that now includes using using facial recognition software on your photos. Ick.
Flickr Pro is a contender but it'll set you back $25 per year.
Picasa Web is looking like one of the the best options right now with beautiful announcement emails and galleries, but the Aperture > Picasa plug-in costs $25, so you'll need to take that into consideration too.
Smugmug prides itself on storing original, full resolution photos and has a pretty UI and galleries (I like the black background) but its basic plan costs $40 per year. $60 per year if you want to host videos.
500px.com allows photographers to upload their work, create a beautiful portfolio and interact with other community members. (Thanks edfindley)
ZenFolio - pro oriented service with prices from $25 per year (limited) to $50 per year (unlimited). Offers free plug-ins for iPhoto and Aperture.
Apple needs to announce its plans for a Gallery-like photo hosting service for iCloud (even if it costs more) -- either yes or no -- ASAP before its loyal customers who poured their blood, sweat and tears into creating beautiful galleries schlep their photos and videos (and wheelbarrows of goodwill with it) to competing services.