Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Picoblogger 1.0

This is small review of PicoBlogger 1.0, moblogging software for the Series 60 mobile phones made by the PicoStation Inc.

PicoBlogger is much more finished product than some others in the market. The user interface is rather consistent and usable. The application also concentrates on what is important before adding other finesse: snapping the pic and posting it. When everything goes right doing that is really straightforward and easy.

One has to concentrate on the phrase "when everything goes right". There seems to be some trouble ahead when there is anything exceptional you want to do, or if the phase of the moon is just not right.

I might be a bit biased on this as I use only -service. Some of the problems might be because of the implementation of the blogger service itself, not the way how picoblogger handles the protocol.

The good things:

  • It works! 8)
  • UI is clean and intuitive (with some reservations)
  • Photoblogging is easy and straightforward: Launch app, snap picture, write title and body text and post.
  • Setup is easy with, the software can fetch the information of your blgos from the account.

The gripes:

  • Instability in posting or saving the draft post: Sometimes the software goes to deadlock and the image and posting is lost
  • The images posted to blogs are stored in picostations own server, not the server defined in account. (The image upload works with the other supported blog services)
  • If the posting fails because of the server end error, you cannot edit (or export) the unsuccesful post, you can just try to re-send
  • Strict copy protection system, perhaps over the limit of usability.
  • To use and register the product you have to create an account to the picostation service. IMO this is unecessary step when the usual case is to use this with own blog service anyway. It raises also concerns of some unecessary call-home functionality.
  • Non-existent image manipulation options.
  • The HTML source of the posts seem to have some incompatibilities with templates.

The wishlist for the future additions is long. One has to remember these are not shortcomings of picoblogger, it is good to start from few features that really work, compared to buckets of buggy features. Also, I have a strong vision what a moblogging application should be like to Really Work (tm):

  • Enable the use existing images for posting.
  • Enable the saving of the images taken with picoblogger.
  • Enable the usage of digital zoom in the viewfinder.
  • Add basic image manipulation: Crop, rotate, resize (It is to be noted I have yet to find a single S60 application that does these functions well..)
  • Add the support of proper image upload in combination of the service
  • Add the support for posting a thumbnail with a link to bigger image
  • Add the possibility to move the unsuccesfull posts to drafts (= enables editing them)
  • Add the possibility to upload also other objects: Voice and video clips, text files and perhaps also other documents.

PicoBlogger is a good product, and I would say it is the best moblogging software there is for Series 60 phones today. The potential of it is even bigger, if the main gripes are corrected in next versions. I would not wholeheartedly recommend it to the users but it is definitely worth to give it a try!


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