Well, here’s an app that’s actually practical. Cloud Photos (for iOS) is a newly launched mobile camera replacement app which automatically uploads photos to Dropbox, as soon as you snap the picture. The idea here is that you can use the app to save space on your iPhone’s disk drive, as it allows you to save photos directly to the cloud instead of the iPhone’s Camera Roll.
Within Cloud Photos, you can browse the photos stored in your Dropbox folders, which displays them as thumbnails that take up 1/40th of the space of the original, the app’s developers claim.
If you would rather just use the app as a Dropbox uploader, that’s possible too – from the app’s camera interface, you can choose to save to the Camera Roll instead, and then switch on the new “Auto Upload” feature to sync all your Camera Roll pics to Dropbox’s cloud.
That’s also a handy option since the shortcut to the camera from the iPhone’s lockscreen isn’t configurable, meaning you’ll probably still be taking a lot of pictures with the default camera app, which then end up in the Camera Roll.
The app’s co-creator Andrew Norris, who bootstrapped Cloud Photos with his brother Jonathan, says that the eventual plan is to support other services beyond Dropbox.
“The concept of the app is to be the centralized app to view and control your photos wherever they live,” Norris explains. “We started with support for Dropbox because of their user base and a very flexible API,” he says.
As someone who personally switched back from Android to the iPhone 4S myself, one of my frustrations with the iPhone’s camera/camera roll interface is the lack of built-in sharing features. Tweeting a photo is not enough, and generally, not even practical. I miss how Android phones let you share photos to just about every service imaginable without the need for a third-party app.
Cloud Photos goes a long way to address that issue. Not only does the app house all your Dropbox photos, it also pulls in photos from your Camera Roll, Photostream, and any local folders you’ve created, too. From any of these folders, the app’s sharing options lets you share photos to Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Instagram or via email.
Plus, you can copy or move photos to other folders, or event print out the photo, if you choose.
However, the one thing you can’t do – and this is by design – is apply filters or effects to your photos. “We think the Camera filter market is pretty saturated currently,” explains Norris, “so we decided to avoid it at launch and support ‘Open In…’ which opens your photos in those other apps.” In other words, you can open photos in Cloud Photos directly in Instagram without having to leave the app.
After giving Cloud Photos access to your Camera Roll and Dropbox account upon first launch, it creates a “Photos” folder in Dropbox to save your uploads, but you can choose to save to another folder by tapping a button on the app’s camera view. The camera itself includes several controls including one to control the flash, another to switch between the front-facing and rear cameras, and even advanced controls for white balance, focus, exposure and the ability to switch on gridlines.
Photos are uploaded over Wi-Fi and and 3G (configurable in the settings).
The Norris brothers, both graduated engineers, have launched app as a part of their new development company Syrp, Inc. based in Toronto, after having first spent a few years working in the corporate world.
Cloud Photos is available here for $1.99 in iTunes.