Instagram, Path or PicPlz: How Apps (and Sushi) Should Work

by francine Hardaway on December 4, 2010

Photosharing apps are not all created equal. Last night, I tried three of the most highly hyped under combat conditions, which gave me a way to make a different comparative evaluation than the one usually made by the geek blogs.

To do this, I risked my life to go to a “sushi boat” restaurant with my friend Laurie. In this theatre of photographic and gastronomical war, the combatant sits at the sushi bar, and the sushi rides by on little boats.  The first challenge is to pick a restaurant where the sushi hasn’t been floating by for long enough to kill you. For this experiment, Laurie chose Warakubune in the Castro, a place she trusts for the freshness of its fish.

Having controlled for the potential of food poisoning, we got down to the business of testing apps while trying to get a picture of sushi in motion. And have a conversation. It can be very absorbing to photograph food moving by, especially when another of the challenges is to grab what you want as it appears in view and before the person next to you, who may want the same dish.

Here are the results:

Path took too long to open. If you’re trying to take the seaweed salad, it will be down the river by the time you even open the app and get the camera ready to go. And it doesn’t let you pick photos that are in your camera roll and share them; they have to be in your library.  If you want to use this app, which has some excellent features, such as simple sharing, don’t choose it in this application for a moving target.

PicPlz crashed twice upon opening. It geolocates, but it put the restaurant in the right place and gave it the wrong name. We were not at Miyabi Sushi, although we were in the Castro.

Instragram wins for sheer usability. On the other hand, applying yellow and green filters to sushi doesn’t quite give you what you probably wanted for a final effect. Here’s one of the least offensive filters for photographing food.

Neither Path nor PicPlz allow you to get your photos or take them out of the application, and I don’t think any but saves them to your camera roll so you can send them to someone by email. For instance, I had a hard time getting the photos I posted last night out of my sharing accounts so I could use them here, and some of them I could not.

Here’s what happened when I gave up and used the camera without a fancy application. Admittedly I cheated. I had already removed this wonderful roll from the boat.
(And yes, this photo is sideways. Couldn’t get it to rotate the way it should in WordPress image editing. Another technology challenge. But I’m on leave from combat right now.)

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