Lightbox, Facebook Acquisitions, and the Curious Volatile State of Apps

Lightbox, Facebook Acquisitions, and the Curious Volatile State of Apps

May 22, 2012

After years of software that was rarely updated or changed, apps have created a new world in which software is strangely impermanent, and an app that someone uses regularly can disappear just like that. Lightbox is one such app: the app for sharing photographs as a photo blog has disappeared from Google Play, thanks to Facebook, who hired away its engineers, seemingly in order to improve their mobile photo sharing product, similar to why they acquired Instagram. Facebook has said that they have problems with mobile, and improving their mobile apps and services is why they’re making such moves. Lightbox is the exception among Facebook’s recent acquisitions: both Instagram and Karma are remaining in their current forms for now.

However, it’s all just a reminder, that these apps from small teams can suddenly change, and possibly disappear because they were too good, or too successful, and someone else wanted their success to be part of them. Or a major update can come along and dramatically change the way an app works. Games tend to go through this a lot. Perhaps every app we use should be used and enjoyed while we have them, because there’s just no guarantee that they will be that way tomorrow, and it’s still just a vastly new and unique thing in the world of software.

Lightbox Photos Review

Lightbox Photos Review

Sep 28, 2011

Android users have been begging for the extremely popular iOS app by the name of Instagram to migrate over to the platform, but it just isn’t happening. While Instagram chooses to stay on iOS, Android users may finally have their own social photo sharing app, and it is all thanks to Lightbox Photos.

Starting Lightbox Photos brings users right into the camera portions of the app. Here, users can adjust settings such as zoom, white balance, exposure, and focus (macro, auto, infinity). Yes, even the flash may be turned on and off with a simple tap of the icon. From there, the image is brought into the filter section where there is a wide variety of filter settings ranging from black and white conversions to artsy stuff like a 8-bit pixilated render of the photo. After the proper filter is applied, it is off to adding a description and sharing. The app automatically posts to Lightbox (account required), but can also post to Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Foursquare, and Flickr. People can even import images from their Google Picasa accounts, as well as off the memory card. If this was all that was included, this would still be a decent camera app, but there is more to this.

Getting out of the camera portion, users are greeted with a powerful viewing app as well. By linking social media outlets, such as Facebook or Twitter, any photos shared on these services are brought into the app’s slideshow viewing area. Popular images, mainly off Flickr, as well as images from places like the New York Times are also viewable in their own dedicated areas. This is a great way to view hundreds of images, seamlessly in one app.

All is not perfect, however. The biggest gripe has to be with the UI, and its lack of intuitiveness. In order to get to the photo viewing area, the user has to first tap on their image on the bottom right of the camera section and then tap on the cube in the middle of the screen. The app also does not immediately go into the Lightbox account creation section, and it just haphazardly happens the first time someone tries to post an image online. Once the nuances of the app are learned, navigation is not a big problem, but it is something that should be considered for new users who may not give this more than a few minutes to impress them.

All-in-all, this is a fantastic app. The extra controls in the camera section are great for anyone looking to perfect their shots, and the sharing is quick and painless once it is all setup. The piece that takes the cake is the sideshow of images from more places than just Lightbox itself. With a few UI tweaks, this could become the killer photo sharing app Android users have been clamoring for. For free, what does one have to lose by giving this a shot?