SkyDrive now a solid choice for basic photo sharing — if you're on Windows
Microsoft's SkyDrive has been upping its game in the photo department to better compete with other cloud storage options, and the latest features make it a good option for low-intensity sharing from any computer — but they still have a ways to go on mobile.
A blog post at Windows.com earlier this week introduced an improved HTML5-based online browser for your uploaded photos. Responding to feedback, they've made a few helpful changes to how things work.
First, you can quickly rotate photos with wrong or badly detected orientation info. In an age of vertical video and sketchy auto-rotation rules, this capability is a must.
The "All Photos" view, which is what any frequent shooter would be using most regularly if SkyDrive were their choice of cloud service for photo storage, has also gotten some useful updates. For one thing, you can restrict "All" to actually mean "some," so you don't have fax scans and random screenshots cluttering your camera roll.
When viewing your pictures in the recently-added reverse chronological order timeline view, you can also click the date now to select all those photos for sharing, shifting or what have you. Recipients of shared pictures get a nice, clean email with previews and a simple album view. That's a good, simple way to get pictures of the kids to a few family members, or let a friend skim shots of themselves so no unflattering ones end up Facebook.
All shared files can be viewed at a glance, too, so a temporarily public album can be yanked or previously shared items located without scrolling through weeks of miscellaneous uploads.
These are all additions to the web-based viewer, but SkyDrive on the desktop is still the most robust option — if you're willing to deal with the Windows 8 interface. Still, its deep integration with the OS means ease of use and, due to the hybrid file storage method introduced with Windows 8.1, a lot of saved space.
Native RAW support doesn't hurt either. Unload your camera at home, review the shots on the train without having to worry about conversion. For anyone using Windows on a tablet (a small but growing group), it's a great solution for casual photo management.
If you're not on WIndows or Windows Phone, though, there's little reason to join up. Automatic uploads don't work on Android or iOS yet, which renders all the features mentioned here somewhat moot. The Android app hasn't been updated since January, and is missing basic features. Look how it compares to Dropbox:
Pretty sad! And the mobile website isn't much help, either. You can switch to the full website, which loads gracefully but isn't very easy to use on a small screen. Basically, until Microsoft decides to embrace mobile a bit more universally, it's just not a great option for iOS and Android users.
That said, users of the latest Nokia Windows Phones, with their fancy cameras, will likely find the clean, Windows-centric apps and services well ordered and good for most common shoot-and-share tasks.