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Why can't I share my iPhoto library?
"Everything Starts Out Looking Like a Toy" (No. 44)
This week’s toy: a working microscope you can build out of Lego bricks. Childhood me feels vindicated that you can build useful tools out of Legos. Edition No. 44 of this newsletter is here - it’s May 2, 2021.
The Big Idea
Why Can’t I Share My iPhoto Library?
If you use Apple’s ecosystem, you might have run into this problem. You can’t share your library with a family member without a herculean effort. If you look around, you can definitely find workaround methods, but they generally look like this:
establish an external hard drive or sign up for an additional photo service
confuse the Photos app into downloading files to an additional photo library and then use multiple iPhoto libraries that you keep in synch.
This on its face is just nonsense. Apple maintains family sharing groups. You can share purchase options with a family group but not a standard photo sharing group.
Google Photos doesn’t have this problem, and makes it easy to have a persistent sharing group. So why might Apple have made this decision, and what’s a potential solution?
It’s all about the Privacy
Apple’s brand is based on privacy. If you consider the additional changes made to fight tracking cookies and applications that snoop on location, keeping photo items private unless you choose to share them in a Shared Album makes sense … sort of.
Maybe it’s not so much about privacy as the legacy tech underlying the Apple ID. If you have multiple people in a family group who share “access” to a file, who owns the file? One way to handle this is to have the original owner own the ultimate changes. But Apple doesn’t have a file model like Microsoft or Google underlying its files and making it easy to share (it’s probably possible to do these things in iCloud but I have no idea how to do it and I am reasonably technical).
Sharing is Intent
Another way to look at the problem of Photos in the Apple system is one of Intent. Do you really want to share every picture in your library with your family member, or do you want them to see a curated version of your life and your photo library? Perhaps the underlying product vision here is the idea of the Apple ID holder as an individual, where the family group is added on to those services.
What would a family sharing feature look like from Apple? One of the things I think would help the most and would also be inline with existing features is a Shared Folder that can (if you are in the Family Group) share the actual link to the photos and not a virtual reference as it does today. I’d pay for this right now, so I hope Apple is thinking about this too.
What’s the takeaway? “Shared folders” is not exactly the same as a shared Photo library in the Apple ecosystem. This is a missing hole in the Apple product strategy … it should be fixed.
A Thread from This Week
Twitter is an amazing source of long-form writing, and it’s easy to miss the threads people are talking about.
This week’s thread: the upcoming mapping of indoor spaces, and the technologies that will bring us there. The first commercial one: Apple’s new AirTags.
Links for Reading and Sharing
These are links that caught my eye.
1/ the machines aren’t coming, they are here - 67% of companies are using machine learning, and 97% plan to use it or start using it in the coming year. So what is machine learning, really? tl;dr: it works a lot better when you have many many similar items to compare that change slightly depending upon various factors.
2/ the future requires product-led growth - Sarah Guo of Greylock writes that “Companies can achieve greater success if they understand the limits of organic end-user self-service as an initial lead generation and community goodwill strategy, rather than a silver bullet.” Letting the community generate ideas and co-create success is powering many of the most successful companies today.
3/ inside companies, departments are being built into products - I love this article by Eliya Elon on the growth of revenue operations. The best organizations are building services and products inside of the revenue org that are helping sellers to make more money and businesses to better take advantage of their resources. RevOps is real.
On the Reading/Watching List
If you liked the Lego Movie, Into the Spiderverse, or generally appreciate animation, there is much to like about “The Mitchells vs. The Machines”, now on Netflix. It’s not your typical save the world flick. And it’s hilarious.
What to do next
Hit reply if you’ve got links to share, data stories, or want to say hello.
I’m grateful you read this far. Thank you. If you found this useful, consider sharing with a friend.
The next big thing always starts out being dismissed as a “toy.” - Chris Dixon