Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Wish List: Photo Print and Book Apps

As I've mentioned before, I've gotten it so that my entire photo workflow is on my iPad... Until the very end. To order prints, I've got to use my desktop. And now that I want photo books for Christmas, same deal.

Now, there aren't zero options. Walgreens has basic print ordering on their app, and a (poorly-designed) app called LifePics allows print ordering to CVS, Ritz Camera, and a few other places. So if you want 4x6, 5x7, or 8x10 prints, and your pictures are already cropped to the right size (these apps won't help you there), there are a couple of options. But seriously, why don't companies like Photobucket and Shutterfly have this option in their apps? Are they allergic to money? As far as I know, Apple only takes a 30% cut on in-app downloads, not physical merchandise.

Same for photo books. They could easily turn the flash book-making services on their sites into apps. The apps would likely be smoother than the sites! But right now, I seem to have two options: use a scrapbooking app like ScrapPad or Album App to design the book, email it to myself, convert to PDF, then use the desktop just to upload the PDFs to a bookmaking site that will take them; OR use a flash browser like Puffin to navigate a slow, half-assed version of their bookmaking sites.

This is the kind of thing the iPad was born to do. Page layout via touch beats via mouse any day (and this is something I've done professionally via mouse and trackball). Whoever realizes this first has a pile of cash waiting for them.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Baby Loggers

If you don't have kids, you probably think the idea of a baby logger is at best obsessive and at worst pretty creepy. What is it? Just what it sounds like - an app that lets you track when your baby falls asleep, wakes up, has a diaper change and what was in that diaper, when he eats and either how long and which side if you're breastfeeding or how much if it's from a bottle. Some also let you track development, keep track of doctor's appointments, and more.

The thing is, when the baby is first born, the doctors want you to track this stuff. You need to make sure enough food is going in and coming out, and that the baby isn't sleeping too long between feedings, to make sure everything's working right. At first we wrote it all down on a paper they gave us at the hospital, but then I discovered apps that let you track it with one tap. More recently, it's been clear to us that E has never really slept as much as they claim newborns sleep, and we wanted to keep track so we could try and get his sleep patterns into more of a, well, pattern. With the help of a baby logger, we now know for sure that he sleeps an average of 11-12 hours a day instead of the usual 14-16, including only 2-3 hours of naps instead of 4-6. Now that we know what we're dealing with, and what a bad night looks like versus a good night, we can start to address the problem.

I've tried three baby loggers since E was born, and the one I've stuck with is Baby Geek. The interface takes a little exploring to figure out, but you'll have it mastered by the end of the day. I used this to track diapers and feedings for a few days, but have been tracking sleep with it for two months now, so that's the feature I'm most familiar with. Baby Geek gives you simple one-touch tracking, with the nice touch that if you go to change the time of an event, there is both a clock to adjust and buttons to automatically jump it back 5, 10, or 15 minutes. It has the best graphs of any of the loggers I tried - you can view totals of each type of event by day, or timelines with all or only one type of event shown, and it separates day and night sleep (at times you pick). You can email the entries and have the program sync across two devices, so both parents (or one Nd a childcare provider) can keep track. And probably a dozen other features I'm not thinking of because I only use the most basic one. And all this is only $.99.

The other two I tried are BabyBix and Baby Log. I liked Log better than Bix, but not well enough to shell out $4.99 for it once the free version ran out, which only took about a day.

Here is how the three stack up (Some are my subjective ratings 1-10, 10 highest):

Baby BixBaby LogBaby GeekWinner
PriceFreeFree trial for a day or two, then $4.99$0.99Bix
Starting an eventSeveral tapsTwo tapsOne tapGeek
Email reportsNoYesYesLog & Geek
Quality of graphs588.5Geek
Ease of use389Geek
Unique featureIntegrated message boardBar and line graphsDay vs night sleep shown on graphLog or Geek
Unique annoyanceCrashes a lotPast events must be entered by start time and duration, not start and end timeOnly shows past two weeks' with of dataNo one wins this!

This entry is cross-posted to Don't Call Me Crunchy.