Almost a month ago, I explained my affinity for the functionality in Apple’s MobileMe service. As promised, MobileMe has been shut down. There’s a “CLOSED” sign hanging from the page, with a perfect little swinging animation. I also mentioned that I was moving my church’s photo gallery to ZangZing. I had already migrated all of the photo albums. All I had left to do was change the links from the church website. Well, while I was on my business trip last week, I received email from ZangZing. They’re shutting down August 31st!
So, since I returned Friday, I’ve been scrambling to find another replacement service and get it set up. I checked Flickr again, but they haven’t changed the way their group sharing works. You still have to create an account and upload photos to your own account before sharing them with the group. It’s way too complicated.
I found Capsule, which sounds interesting. It’s event-based sharing, tying in group texting, invitations with RSVP, and other such features. However, it’s designed to be completely private, only allowing access to those with invitations. That model just isn’t going to work with my church.
Yogile claims to be “The easiest way to share photos!”, and it may be. I was able to create and album that anyone would be able to upload photos to without creating an account or responding to an invitation. However, the visual design of the site is sub-par, and it doesn’t provide RSS feeds, which I use to display newly added photos directly on the church’s website. That might be excusable if it were free, but unless you pay $24.95 a year, it deletes albums older than 14 days old. Don’t get me wrong, I’m willing to pay for a good service. There’s just not enough value here.
Then I found SmugMug, a service designed for professional photographers to display and sell their portfolios. The visual design is decent, and it allows albums to display with customized themes, so I’m not stuck with SmugMug’s default styling. It doesn’t integrate with iPhoto in any way, but it’s uploader works beautifully, allowing me to simply drag multiple photos into the browser window. Its customizability even one-ups mobile me, letting me change the way each photo thumbnail is cropped, if I want to take the time. It provides a bevy of RSS feeds, and I can set up albums to allow other people to contribute. This is the only area in which it falls short. MobileMe and Yogile both provide buttons right on the album page for uploading, and MobileMe could even display an email address to which photos could be sent. SmugMug generates a specific URL for each album that I will have to figure out how to communicate to my church congregation. At $40 a year, SmugMug appears to be the best option for replacing MobileMe.
Of course, MobileMe also allowed me to post video. I already set up a YouTube account for the church, but that limits me to 15-minute clips. At $60 a year, SmugMug will also let me upload an unlimited amount of video. That’s still $40 less than I was paying for MobileMe. Color me sold.