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Glass Photograph App Assessment: Design Wants Work, However the Mission is Clear

In early August, a brand new photography-based subscription-only social media app hit the iOS App Retailer. Known as Glass, it touts itself as a brand new, distraction-free dwelling for photographers that’s centered on one factor: your photographs.

Glass was first conceived in 2013 by Tom Watson who, as an newbie photographer, cherished communities like Flickr within the mid and late 2000s. However, as Watson notes, each platform initially conceived to be a spot for photographers ultimately pivoted away from that: Flickr was misplaced to mismanagement and Instagram to acquisition. So it turned clear to Watson that venture-backed corporations would all the time be an issue so far as the platform’s values and the way these values get corrupted over time through outdoors affect.

Two years in the past, Watson together with co-founder Stefan Borsje, based Glass with the intention to be a platform by and for photographers — newbie {and professional} alike. It’s designed to be a spot for photographers to share or purchase information in addition to be a spot to community with different photographers. Watson tells PetaPixel that within the first two weeks on the platform, they’ve already seen photographers impressed to purchase their first digital camera as a few of their favourite skilled photographers share particulars on how they captured a photograph.

I’m positive you seen the “subscription-based” half: Glass at present runs $4.99 per 30 days or $49.99 per yr. Nonetheless, at launch you’ll be able to pay a reduced fee of $29.99 for a complete yr ($2.50 per 30 days). There’s a 14-day free trial regardless of which choice you select, which permits potential customers loads of time to determine if Glass is for them — the trial isn’t restricted in any manner, both.

Moreover, Glass says it won’t promote customers’ information and it doesn’t reply to outdoors buyers or advertisers. Transparency appears to be excessive on the precedence listing for Borsje and Watson (one thing that turned extraordinarily clear to me after my interview with Watson).

Most apps and web sites are usually very coy, if not fully silent, in regards to the safety of your photographs. For instance, deep in Fb’s phrases of service, as a consumer you “grant [it] a non-exclusive, transferable, sub-licensable, royalty-free, worldwide license to make use of any IP content material that you simply put up on or in reference to Fb” and that even when your delete your mental property and shut your account, it’s “deleted in a way just like emptying the recycle bin on a pc… eliminated content material might persist in backup copies for an inexpensive time period.”

Glass, alternatively, is obvious to you that your content material is and all the time will stay your personal, isn’t topic to any sub-licensing or advertiser entry, and the choice to obtain a whole archive of your photographs and delete your account is all the time accessible — besides Glass makes use of a shredder as an alternative of a recycle bin in a continuation of the metaphor.

Design and Expertise

The app itself is extremely simple and no-nonsense. Icons and choices are stored to a minimal, which makes it exceedingly easy to begin utilizing proper off the bat and makes for a really pleasing consumer expertise. 5 semi-transparent icons line the underside of the display screen: a “Residence” icon that brings you again to the primary chronological feed, a Uncover part to seek out or browser customers, your Glass profile, a notifications part, and on the far proper is the add icon.

In line with Glass, pictures are processed into the system and displayed with minimal compression. Viewing pictures on my iPad Air 4, which is about the perfect display screen you’ll be able to at present use till there’s a desktop app outdoors of the new iPad Pro mini LED display, photographs do current with primarily no seen compression. The app additionally touts help for the P3 shade gamut — not solely is P3 a wonderful shade area however all trendy iPhone and iPad shows use the Show P3 gamut.

Whereas the importing course of is easy as silk, I’d recognize the implementation of a fundamental, non-compulsory enhancing panel when in the course of the course of in case the consumer desires to crop or carry out different last-minute fundamental changes with out diving over to a separate utility first. For somebody like me who solely edits their photographs on a pc — and subsequently cropping or different changes have already been achieved — this isn’t an enormous deal in any respect. However let’s take into account that Glass desires to draw photographers of all ability and expertise ranges, lots of whom might seize and edit fully on their cellphone.

Rising Pains…

Your complete idea of Glass isn’t solely admirable however one which I feel has nice potential. With that stated, Glass remains to be not there but.

This isn’t sudden for an app like this that doesn’t have an enormous firm (or funds) behind it — to not point out it fairly actually is extraordinarily new to the market. Glass doesn’t see the present iteration of its platform as the ultimate product in any manner. From my interview with Watson, nothing turned clearer than the truth that the corporate has agency intentions to diligently work at evolving, increasing, and adjusting the platform — significantly as consumer suggestions rolls in.

The idea is robust, and the execution to date exhibits unbelievable promise. However there are some points that have to be addressed — many of those are subjective to some extent, although I really feel like most of them can be desired by a overwhelming majority of Glass’s supposed consumer base. So, with that stated, let’s get into what wants work.

Lack of Assets

There’s at present no “Assist” or “FAQ” part each inside the app itself or on the corporate’s web site. This was fairly a bit irritating as a result of I wished to see if I used to be merely lacking a number of issues, however there may be nowhere to go that has assets to assist. Nonetheless, Mr. Watson tells me {that a} Assist/FAQ part will likely be coming within the subsequent few weeks.

I could not have seen the dearth of a Assist menu if it weren’t for the truth that it appeared as if there was no strategy to delete a photograph as soon as uploaded. Most different apps have a drop-down mini-menu with choices that embrace deletion, however Glass doesn’t. Nonetheless, you’ll be able to simply delete a photograph by merely swiping left on it out of your Profile.

Customization Would Be Good

There is no such thing as a strategy to edit an add after the very fact, comparable to including a caption, and this must be fastened. I’d additionally prefer to see an choice when importing for customers to have the ability to flip off the EXIF information — particularly if the photograph is perhaps geotagged, as a good variety of individuals is probably not comfy sharing that. Permitting the guide enter of EXIF information can be a pleasant function as nicely — in case you add a photograph that’s been stripped of its EXIF, you possibly can manually insert data just like the digital camera mannequin, focal size, aperture, et cetera.

Fortunately, and in contrast to Instagram, pictures are all the time displayed of their unique side ratio. That is enormously appreciated, however there are a couple of niggles proper now that actually have to be addressed.

First is an issue with horizontal photographs: whenever you click on on one, it initially shows solely a zoomed-in portion of the photograph. You need to pinch-squeeze to make all the photograph match the display screen. Sq. or vertical photographs don’t have any downside on this regard. The under photograph exhibits this: on the left is what you see upon first clicking the picture, the suitable is after pinch-squeezing the photograph out to full measurement.

Constrained to 16:9

Photos can not have a side ratio wider than 16:9. It’s not unusual for me to crop pictures to 2:1 or 2.35:1 for a extra cinematic look when that applies — these pictures I merely couldn’t add, because the app will inform you that they should be 16:9 or tighter. Watson knowledgeable me that there was initially panorama help in beta, however they stored operating into points making them work within the feed. He tells me they are going to completely revisit it sooner or later as “there are too many unbelievable panoramas on the market to maintain Glass constrained to 16:9 without end.”

Surprising Consumer Expertise Hurdles

Partially associated to the prior concern, the app doesn’t rotate along with your cellphone. This implies you’ll be able to solely view horizontally-oriented photographs with the digital camera held vertically, making them considerably smaller on display screen than if the app would auto-rotate with the cellphone.

Watson defined that there have been too many edge instances with altering orientation that it wasn’t a possible choice for model one in every of Glass, however they don’t seem to be ruling something out sooner or later — besides “advertisements, public counts, algorithms, influencers, engagement casinos, and information monitoring.”

Whereas disappointing that it isn’t coming quickly, I can do nothing however admire that response.

On a reversed observe, sq. and vertical picture viewing is bothered by a distinct concern (on sure iPhone fashions) — the photographs are positioned a lot too far towards the highest of the display screen such that when you have an iPhone X or later mannequin, the infamous “iPhone notch” that homes the speaker and digital camera cuts into the highest of the {photograph}. More often than not, this isn’t significantly noticeable at first look because the excessive peripheries of most images don’t include a lot actually important data. Nonetheless, it is a matter sufficient of the time that I seen it instantly after importing about ten pictures.

Under is an instance the place the difficulty might be significantly noticeable — clearly a screenshot can not seize the notch of the cellphone, so I’ve tried to recreate the impact through crudely and lazily photoshopping out the world that may be lined by the “notch.” The suitable screenshot then exhibits what the total picture appears like if it have been positioned ever so barely decrease. Once more, this concern solely impacts sq. or vertical side photographs — the highest of horizontal photographs stays under the notch.

… However Rising Nonetheless

Watson says that there are a number of new options coming to Glass quickly — enhancements comparable to including Classes, so customers will have the ability to browse photographs posted to classes like Movie, Black and White, Summary, and so forth. There are additionally many smaller updates quickly to return — the already talked about Assist/FAQ part in addition to extra minor tweaks like including pronouns to bios. The latter is one thing that I enormously recognize — it isn’t even one thing that personally impacts me, however it represents a strong moral and ethical code on behalf of Watson and Borsje in addition to excessive consideration to element.

Whereas it might sound odd to say that I feel the Glass group has a eager sense of every part from essentially the most minor to main particulars given what number of points I discovered with the app, you will need to observe one factor:

As Watson defined to me, a lot of the trade-off with not taking enterprise capital cash is that every part merely takes for much longer — they’ve restricted assets in comparison with VC-backed rivals, and he says they really feel that friction daily. In any case, the identical goes for many issues on this world — when you have different individuals’s cash, you are able to do lots and you are able to do it rapidly. However then you definitely’re additionally beholden to them. Glass isn’t.

Design Wants Work, however the Mission is Clear

Total, I’ve come away with a type of odd feeling about this app. This evaluation doesn’t sound overly optimistic in some ways, and but I’ve come away very impressed — not by the present type of Glass, however by the promise of what it each will and might be, in addition to the refreshingly and virtually unprecedented transparency of the corporate and the co-founders. I additionally extraordinarily admire all the idea and the best way that Watson and Borsje determined to not solely get this off the bottom however their everlasting dedication to Glass remaining unadulterated by buyers and advertisers and different undesirable, exterior pressures.

It must be talked about although that I can’t advocate somebody ought to put money into one thing based mostly on guarantees of what is going to come, solely on what at present exists. So whereas I consider Glass’s founders will ship in time, it’s as much as you to determine if it’s price laying down the money now to hitch their burgeoning neighborhood.

Are There Alternate options?

While you see Glass, the primary comparability you’re more likely to make is Instagram. To that finish, the founders have repeatedly pushed again on that, arguing that they and Glass don’t need to exchange Instagram, however slightly make one thing new that avoids the identical errors. Flickr can also be another choice, particularly now since SmugMug runs the present there. It’s not clear if that service will ever absolutely get better, although.

Ought to You Purchase It?

Sure. Glass isn’t there but in relation to design, however in case you like the concept of a devoted images app whose founders promise will solely proceed to develop, develop, and evolve, I feel it’s best to give Glass a strive.

To take action prices you nothing for a two-week trial run and solely $2.50 a month if you are going to buy a complete yr subscription without delay ($30 on the time of publication). Additionally, whereas it’s at present both invite-only or waitlist, that won’t final various extra weeks. I even gave the waitlist a strive — I acquired my entry code lower than twelve hours later.

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