How do you like to show off your holiday photos? You could upload them to a photo sharing site like Flickr or Imgur and send your friends a link. Or you could gather your friends and have them huddle around your cell phone, as you swipe from picture to picture. If you’re old-school – like me – you might even share them via Bluetooth. But there’s a better way, courtesy of Microsoft Xim.
This app – available for Android and Windows Phone, with iOS not far off on the horizon – allows you to share photos and slideshows with your friends, with them using their own devices. And unlike other photo sharing services, only one device needs to have the app installed for it to work.
Xim is a product concocted by the FUSE team within Microsoft Research; the curiously innovative wing of a company that is (rightly or wrongly) perceived by many to be stale and uncool. Other stuff of theirs you might be familiar with include recently unveiled analogue keyboard for Android smartwatches, as well as countless advances in the fields of artificial intelligence, big data and immersive gaming that have been lauded in the technology press.
Surprisingly for a Microsoft app, Xim is incredibly quiet about its Redmond origins. Other than the name, nothing else about it indicates that it’s a Microsoft product. The only other app they’ve released in such a manner is Sway; a smartphone-based multimedia editing suite.
Curious about how Microsoft Xim works? Read on to find out how this incredible (and free) app can change how you share your photos.
Using Microsoft Xim
Before we go ahead, it’s worth noting that Microsoft Xim only works with a small selection of Android devices. I was unable to get it running on my 2012 Nexus 7, or with my old Orange San Diego for that matter. When I tried to open it on my Blackberry Q10 (which supports most Android apps), it immediately and unceremoniously crashed to desktop. This is an app that still is very much in the early beta stages.
Getting It Outside The US & Canada
You should also know that Xim is currently only available to users in the United States of America and Canada. If you’ve got an American phone number, but live outside of these regions, you can always manually download the APK and side-load it onto your device.
Log In With Phone Number & Name
Once you’ve installed Xim, you’ll be prompted to log in. You’re first asked for your phone number, followed by your first and last name. This can be auto-populated from your Facebook account, if you’re short on time.
Select Contacts & Create Photo Collections
You’re now at the home-screen, where you can create what Microsoft has dubbed Xims (apparently pronounced ‘zim’). These are little more than collections of photos, shared between specified contacts.
To create one, you first must first select the contact which your Xims will be sent to. These can either be associated with a phone number or an email address.
Once you’ve established which contacts you wish to share your photos with, you then must choose the photos you plan to share. These can be pulled directly from your device, or from Facebook, Instagram, OneDrive or Dropbox.
Share Photos & Viewing Experience
Next, select the photo (or photos) that will be shared. A link will then be sent to the selected contacts, and you will be able to zoom, swipe and slide through the photos, with their devices keeping up with yours.
If your contacts have Xim installed on their phones, they will be able to add and update the Xim. After a set period of time, all Xims expire and are deleted, much like Snapchat does.
Not Just For Selfies
Xim’s selling point is that you no longer need to crowd around a single phone when showing off your photos. I see Xim as having potential for much, much more.
I can see Xim being used in the classroom. It feels perfectly suited for teachers to share resources and materials, whilst simultaneously ensuring pupils keep up with the rest of the class and aren’t distracted. I can see it used in the battlefield to share critical intelligence. I can see it in the boardroom for presentations. I can see it used in hospitals.
What do you think? Is Xim just a flash in the pan, or is it a useful tool you can see yourself using? Tell me about your thoughts in the comments box below.