23 Sep 2012

The One With Project 1709

There will be a day where you will tell yourself, “.. I have taken too many pictures and it’s almost impossible to remember all of them…”.

Unfortunately (and maybe not surprisingly), mine has reached such a stage. Not yesterday, but probably since last year or so. At first organising it via a clear folder structures seems reasonable, and probably a good start. But as I started taking pictures randomly, from multiple cameras and phones and not forgetting images which I’ve edited and obtained from other friends’ cameras, I knew I will get myself into trouble with these images.

Quite sure many others shared such “problems”. Maybe this is an “issue” of the digital World. And just bear in mind, we are just like less than 15 years of mass digital camera era. And as we project our life into the next decade, finding your images will definitely be an unpleasant necessity.

Along came Canon’s “Project 1709”. Yes… not the final name yet as it is still in beta and this marks Canon’s first attempt into the ever crowded cloud photo storage/management service.

Option
It’s good to know that Canon is using the universal sign in either via Facebook, Google, Yahoo, etc… I believe there will be more options available in the future but at least with Facebook, this should be sufficient for now (reason to come below under killer features)

First Impression
Maybe it’s just me but I really have a great feeling when I first see the design of this site. Dark colours are used to contrast mostly bright pictures that we normally take. And if you are like many Canon camera users out there you will probably notice there’s a distinct & probably intentional exclusion on the usage of “Canon red” in the web design.

Second Impression
Ok… Now I’ve tried to upload some pictures and DANG…  desktop upload client still not available for MAC users. And DANG… Windows version not working with my WHS 2011. Yes… I know, it’s still in beta but hey… it’s 2012 and MAC users are increasingly popular!

Then I tried on their “selective” upload. Not to be too negative but, you can only select 10 images to be uploaded at once. 10 images!!! When can I finish uploading my images? It might take a lifetime to upload my lifetime images J  Not just that, how am I supposed to remember which of the images I’ve uploaded???Uuploads are simultaneous and if the system crashed halfway during uploads (which is common during any beta stage), you will need to select the images and upload again. Dear Canon, take this as my feedback J

On a positive side
Alrite… enough on the “constructive” feedback. Let’s look at the bright side for now. After all, it’s really still in a beta phase and I am sure Canon will continuously improving the details.

After  I’ve uploaded some pictures, one thing I really like is their “tiles” layout (aka Metro look). Interfaces are easy to understand and simple layout means you will not be intimidated to click on anything you see on screen.

One of the key navigation tool is the “Date” of which the pictures were taken. The “year” is clearly labelled on top of the pictures and once you click on the year, you will be shown the months and it’s a nice touch that they will highlight only the months are available based on the pictures.

You can also filter the images by tags (which you need to create) and by cameras. Because it’s made by Canon, EXIF data are part of the data made available on each picture. Hence, it can easily filter by camera models (even if it’s not taken from a Canon camera). Hopefully future improvements will allow us to filter images with more options; ie By Aperture, Colours and zoom range.

Apart from the tiles design, Canon also implemented the “infinite” scrolling page design. This means no more click “next” after “next” to view your pictures. Nice…

Killer Feature
Maybe there are something similar out there, but I’ve not seen this before. What set Project 1709 apart from the rest or at least differentiate themselves with other cloud services and cloud storage is it’s integration with Facebook. When you share a picture via Project 1709 to your Facebook account, it will track all comments within the Project 1709 platform.  In the long term perspectives, this is a neat feature and particularly interesting when you go through a history of all of your pictures.

Final Thoughts?
Project1709 is by no mean "final" (hence beta). So it's only right for me to reserve my final thoughts on this exciting new service for now. A lot of questions are still floating; ie how much free storage for new sign up? How much space until they start charging? How much would that cost? And how committed Canon is in moving away from hardware based products especially for consumer segments. And what other "killer" features are in the pipeline...

Hopefully I can revisit this and give my comments in the coming months but as it is, Project1709 do show some great promises and if it manage to evolve well, it might be a great companion between your digital images and social media.

To sign up, head to www.project1709.com. At the moment, they are still drip feeding the users slowly (but surely) to ensure pleasant user experience with the new service. And a short video presentation as below;

If you want to know more, kindly leave me a message here or twit me @ah_heng


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