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Once in a while, you come across a product that fills a void you never knew existed. Think of the iPhone. Think of Twitter. Comparing Pixable to the likes of these is, admittedly, a bit of hyperbole. But among all the photo aggregators I have used, not one has come close to what Pixable achieves. It has the potential to revolutionize how you use images.

Pixable used to be a different service. In its earlier avatar, Pixable was about personalized printable calendars Pixable: Adds Facebook Friends' Birthdays To Online Calendar Pixable: Adds Facebook Friends' Birthdays To Online Calendar Read More . In its second coming, it has taken on the role of an app that manages all your photos.

What does Pixable do?

To put it simply, Pixable is a universal photo inbox. This app connects to your Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google Drive and Dropbox. It fetches images stored and shared on all those accounts and puts them in one place for you to see, collect and share. As  it’s available for the Web, Android, iOS, and BlackBerry, your photos stay synced across all devices.

Pixable-Photo-Inbox-Home

Naturally, you will need to grant Pixable permission to all these apps first, and I found it best to log in using my Facebook ID. At its core, Pixable is all about Facebook, but it offers just enough extras to make it useable for other things.

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We’ll get to its mobile offerings as well, but let’s start with the web app.

Pixable On The Web

Pixable-Photo-Inbox-Recent-Facebook-Photos

Pixable goes through your entire Facebook feed and sorts the photos in different categories, such as Most Recent, Top of the Day/Week/Month, New Cover Photos, New Profile Pics, Tagged Ladies, Tagged Guys, My Likes & Comments, and so on. There’s a separate category for shared Facebook Videos, but without sub-categories like in photos.

Click any of these and you’ll get a tiled layout of photos or videos, responsive to your screen width. These come with the uploader’s name and captions, along with two shortcuts: Share it on Twitter and Favorite. I’ll talk about these in a bit.

Pixable-Photo-Inbox-Lightbox

Pixable has a beautiful interface. You can click on any photo or video to enlarge it and play it in a lightbox . There’s also an option to view all the images as an auto-playing slideshow. In the lightbox, you can download the image, see other people’s comments, and see the people involved in the image.

The social ways to share your photos are there — give it the usual Facebook love, and also share it through other social networks, use email, or go with direct links. That’s right, any photo or video you find can be shared with a link that leads back to your Pixable account, and not to the original Facebook source.

Beyond Facebook

While Facebook has all these categories, the rest of the social networks don’t enjoy the same benefits. You can view a feed of all the images and videos shared on Twitter, arranged chronologically. The same holds true for Dropbox and Google Drive. Instagram is an exception as it gives you the option to sort them by feed, likes, your photos, and on a map.

Pixable-Photo-Inbox-Feeds

The layout for all these is the same as what you get in any of Facebook’s categories. In the lightbox, the buttons adapt to the network. For example, on a Twitter photo, you’ll get the option to retweet it, reply to it, or favorite it on Twitter. And on Instagram, you can Like it or join in the comments. Again, you still have option to create a new link, and to share it on other social networks.

Faves

Pixable shines in the unification of these different photo streams you usually rely on. Right now, the photos you favorite on Twitter are kept separate from those you Like on Facebook, and neither of these has a connection to the hearts you clicked on Instagram. Then, how do you even mark those special photos in your Dropbox?

Pixable-Photo-Inbox-Faves

Pixable offers a unique, single vault to store your favorite photos across all these apps. All you need to do is either double-click on a photo or hit the Favorite button, shaped like a heart. Pixable will save that image or video in your “Faves”.

Beyond Social Networks

Not only do you get all the photos in your social networks, but Pixable also offers images being shared across the Web in topics that might be of interest to you. As a small add-on, it offers pictures and videos from trending topics.

Pixable-Photo-Inbox-Trending-Topics

For example, there was a feed dedicated to the Sochi Olympics, while another feed offers the latest movie trailers. Again, it’s the same layout with the same favorites and sharing options.

In this way, Pixable is more than just your photo stream, it’s also about photo discovery. Your inbox isn’t just about your contacts, after all.

Going Mobile

What I truly love about Pixable are the free mobile apps. I tried it on both Android and iOS and the apps have a similar interface. I tested the Android app more thoroughly, but the experience on iOS should be consistent.

Pixable-Photo-Inbox-Android-Feed

The main screen has all the Facebook and other feeds noted above, and you have the option to add or remove them in a simple menu. Tap any feed and you get the same tiled, responsive layout as on the Web, only resized for the smaller screen.

The interactions and functionality is the same as what you get on the web app, including the lightbox with the social network’s core features as well as Pixable’s own Faves and Shares.

It just works.

Bonus: Editor, Camera

On the Android app, Pixable has added two extra features that are missing in the web app. For starters, it leverages the Aviary photo editor’s Aviary For Android: Screenshot Tour & Review - Photo Effects Don't Have To Be Social After All Aviary For Android: Screenshot Tour & Review - Photo Effects Don't Have To Be Social After All Aviary has been around forever as a Web-based suite of creative graphics tools. But they've recently made their first foray onto iOS and Android, with the new Aviary Photo Editor app. I'm here to take... Read More engine for basic image editing. When you’re done, reshare it or download it to your Gallery.

Pixable-Photo-Inbox-Android-Editor-Camera

There’s also a shortcut to the default Camera app, although this seems a bit pointless to me. After you take a photo, you have the option to share it via email or post it on Facebook—these are anyway available on the default Camera app, and in fact, that has more sharing options than Pixable offers.

What’s Missing In Pixable

Overall, I’m tremendously happy with Pixable, but it’s not like there is no room for improvement.

For one, it does not let you upload images to all your networks; Pixable is purely about consumption, not about creation. You will still need to rely on apps like PicBackMan for bulk photo uploads to multiple accounts Cure Backup Anxiety! Use PicBackMan To Automatically Bulk Upload Your Photos To Multiple Accounts Cure Backup Anxiety! Use PicBackMan To Automatically Bulk Upload Your Photos To Multiple Accounts It’s time to hitch up the pants and do some backing up of all my precious memories captured in the snaps. In geek-speak, I am going to create redundant backups of my photos using multiple... Read More .

Pixable-Photo-Inbox-Services-Disconnect

Second, it doesn’t support some of the major photo-sharing networks yet. There’s no support for either Flickr or Picasa, two of the biggest image databases, not to mention others like Photobucket and SmugMug. And even though Pixable supports videos, there’s no YouTube sign-in—crazy, right?

Apart from that, there are small annoyances, like the absence of the navigation menu on the homepage of the web app; and recognition of Twitter friends so @ replies are easier, etc. But these don’t really hinder the experience.

Should You Use Pixable?

While these are the two main issues right now, you would be crazy not to use Pixable. I haven’t used any service so far that does such a good job of being a universal photo inbox. I’d be happy to pay for Pixable, but it’s free!

Sign up right now and from the website, grab the link to the app for your mobile device. This is one app you want on any gadget you use!

  1. James B
    March 12, 2014 at 10:19 am

    This assumes, I guess, that I actually want to see the stupid photos my friends post on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram...

    • Mihir Patkar
      March 12, 2014 at 10:23 am

      UNLOCKED: Lovable Curmudgeon

  2. likefunbutnot
    March 3, 2014 at 9:55 pm

    I don't use any social networking services, but I do make a distinction between images that I keep on Picasa Web Albums (I don't have a Google+, so I still have proper Picasa), Google Drive and other cloud storage services, Flickr and also Imgur.

    In the case of Imgur, 90% of the work-flow is just moving data (e.g. "That would make a pretty wallpaper") TO one of my cloud storage accounts, but Imgur's own mobile tools for Android are god-awful, particularly with regard to sharing actual image data (Imgur wants to share URLs, apparently not understanding that a URL as a text file on a cloud storage account or as an SMS on a feature phone isn't helping anyone).

    What I'd kill for is a sort of federated image service browser that lets me browse, share, synchronize and store data using arbitrary supported services. I can kind of manage that with shell scripts and web snippets on desktop machines, but as far as I can tell this is not a tool that exists for mobile devices, where its need is most sincerely felt.

    Pixable's Android client appears to only see Twitter, Instagram, Dropbox and Facebook (four services I do not use) and almost everything I do with the application seems to demand that I sign in to a Facebook account that I don't have. Maybe other versions of the software are more functional, but as it stands this application is taking up 20MB of application storage on my phone to do nothing but display pictures on my Google Drive account in chronological order without respect for my own folder structures and that isn't exactly something I'd call useful.

    • Maarten D
      March 9, 2014 at 12:34 pm

      How can you not have google+? Google asked it me it all the time. With one simple unwanted click, I had a google + account...

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