What's a good option for using a tablet like a networked digital frame for sharing family photos?
November 21, 2012 11:13 AM   Subscribe

What's a good option for using a tablet like a networked digital frame for sharing family photos? I'm looking for a fairly simple system for a mentally handicapped relative.

Short background: I have a mentally handicapped aunt (at about the equivalence of a 3 year old) who loves family photos. As her nieces and nephews have aged and are now scattered around the country, she can often feel abandoned by her family. So receiving photos lets her feel more connected to the family despite limitations.

So the idea is to find a way to A) let her receive pictures – and possibly video – from the family in real time B) make it easy and everyday enough for family to send those pictures. Here's more detail on those aspects.

A) On her side, the system would just need to be fairly simple and get her to the photos within a couple taps – preferably with good visual cues.

B) Ideally, I'd like people to be able to send a photo via SMS (or an app that functions similarly) from their phones and have a tablet/app notify her and add the photo to a library of images she could browse at any time.

One other note:
Because the photos would be personal, I'd like to avoid a popular and/or public-posting app like Instagram ... but I'm keeping it in mind as a backup option.

Are there any apps or app/OS combinations which you think could do the job?
posted by pokermonk to Technology (8 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Your best bet might just be to set up something like a Flickr account and give the password to anyone who wants to send her photos.

Then, all you have to do is show her how to tap the Flickr icon on the tablet.
posted by DWRoelands at 11:17 AM on November 21, 2012

Android tablet, a shared folder in Dropbox, and an app like this?
posted by deezil at 11:43 AM on November 21, 2012

I dont know if this is a legit product but I heard an advertisement for "magicframe" on the radio. the website says it was one of oprahs favorite things and perfect for nontech folks like grandparents. It can connect through wifi or phone line. And it displays up to 40 new pictures per day. Looks like it is a subscription type service...$100 the first year...and renew for $50 per year. I am seeing this at magicframe.com
posted by orangemacky at 12:48 PM on November 21, 2012

Best answer: I would get an Android tablet and a photo frame app. The photo frame app would sync in real time with a Dropbox folder that anyone in your family can upload to. This sounds like an elegant solution that wouldn't require much, if any, effort on her part.

An iOS tablet may work too, but their pricing makes them overkill for a digital frame and they also lack an accessible file structure. Android also has the advantage of widgets. You can use full-screen photo widgets for each home screen.

Here's an example of an Android app that may work for this:

For my wallpaper, I use this MultiPicture Live Wallpaper. This app automatically syncs with its target folder whenever it is updated and it refreshes the page every X minutes with a new photo. It also has the advantage of a different photo for every home screen, so she can play around with swiping into different photos.
posted by WCF at 1:15 PM on November 21, 2012

Ceiva is really overpriced, and it requires a subscription, but it worked perfectly for my technophobe grandparents.
posted by Rock Steady at 1:31 PM on November 21, 2012

Apple's Shared Photostreams let you do exactly this.
posted by backwards guitar at 4:04 PM on November 21, 2012

Best answer: Shared photo streams only let the person that creates the phot stream add photos, but I suppose each person who wants to share photos could create their own. And they are limited to the last 1000 photos.

There are apps like Familiar and OutMyWindow that are meant for things like this. Multiple people can add to a photo set and at least right now, they're all free. Plus you can get notifications when new photos are added and they're pretty easy to use.

Any method using Dropbox will be a bit clunky and possibly require the purchase of storage space, as will Flickr.

Does she have a TV? You could get an Apple TV, have everyone out the photos on Flickr and teach her how to use that app. It can also pull from photo streams, but perhaps only one at a time. Thinking about it more, that might be the best, simplest option.
posted by reddot at 6:25 AM on November 22, 2012

Or, you know, why not just get her one of those photo frames that pills from a web gallery?

How well do you think she'd be able to use a tablet?
posted by reddot at 6:28 AM on November 22, 2012

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