One of the easiest things to do online today is share photos. Be it Facebook or Google+ albums, Instagram, or even Dropbox, sharing individual photos or full albums is a breeze. In fact, it’s so easy, we tend to get bombarded with other people’s photos, and many times we simply skip entire albums just for lack of time. After all, while your colleague’s wedding was probably a very nice affair, do you really have time to look at all 500 photos?
A service that is trying to solve this problem is 16Pics. According to 16Pics’s theory, any photo album can be summarized with 16 photos. They employ an algorithm which makes use of the photos’ meta data and content, and choose 16 photos for you which should represent the full album. This 16-photo collage can then be shared, thus giving everyone the chance to enjoy your photos, without having to go through hundreds of them (or skip the album entirely, as the case may be).
Getting Started With 16Pics
Before you can start making your 16Pics collages, you’ll need to create a 16Pics account. Alternatively, you can log in using Facebook. After your account is set up, you can choose where you want to import albums from. 16Pics currently supports Picasa, Flickr, Facebook and Photobucket.
You have to authorize each added service separately, granting 16Pics access to your photos. You can always disconnect a service or re-authenticate it if, like me, you happened to connect it to the wrong Google account the first time. Now you can choose a service and start creating your collages.
Creating 16-Photo Collages
If you have many albums, you can go through them using the left sidebar. For each one, you immediately get a preview of the photos chosen by 16Pics.
Once you find your album, you can start editing the chosen photos, or even the selection itself. Hover over a photo to rotate it or view a full-size version of it in case you don’t recognize it from the thumbnail. You can also give your collage a name.
If you want to replace a photo, click on the photo you wish to replace and choose another from the bottom album bar. The web interface is very friendly, and will guide you through all the possible actions. One option that’s surprisingly missing is the ability to shift photos around. While an image’s location is not very important in this preview, it does become more so when looking at the finished product.
When you’re happy with the photo selection, click next to choose your layout. You can choose from four themes (more to be added soon), and from several different backgrounds inside each theme.
When you look at these finished collages, especially if you choose the “Photo Gallery” theme, you start wondering why you couldn’t choose which image goes where. Do I necessarily want the goose and the bubble tea in the larger spots? The only way to get around it that I could see is to replace photos manually.
It’s sharing time! You can share your creation on Facebook or Twitter, or get a unique link you can send to anyone. At first I thought the images in the collage are pretty small, and therefore might not really do the trick of conveying an entire event to my friends, but they’re not only getting a collage – they’re getting a collage which they can view as a slideshow, meaning they can enjoy the collage and get to see each picture in full size as well.
Does It Work?
So does 16Pics’s algorithm really work? Does it really choose the best pictures in the album? It’s hard to say for sure. I went through more than 15 albums and checked the choices I got closely. In some albums, 16Pics did an excellent job choosing a variety of pictures which I felt were representing of the entire experience, in other albums the results were not as good. I would say you should simply try it for yourself (it’s free after all) and see what results you get with your own albums.
16Pics is a new service, and still in beta. As a result, you might find the available options somewhat limited, but if you want, you can vote for which 16Pics feature you’d most like to see next, or even suggest a feature of your own you think they should implement.
How do you feel about sharing entire albums using only 16 pictures? Are there other innovative ways to share albums you know about? Let us know in the comments!
Image credit: Huge album image via Shutterstock