Dropbox is a great service, allowing you to store anything from files to photos. Heliog, a new app by Marcel Schmitz, focuses on the latter, and tries to improve on the user experience and interface present in the Dropbox app. Let’s see how it performs.
The first thing (and most important thing) that stands out about the app, as it should, is the user interface. The design is much nicer for viewing photos than the Dropbox app, with a slight skeuomorphic edge to it. Rather like in the iPhoto app, the photos present themselves as thumbnails that you can scroll through, and also feature all the relevant information underneath such as file size and the date it was taken.
Similarly to the Dropbox app, Heliog allows you to take photos from inside the app which are uploaded to Dropbox for easy sharing across your various devices. I would like to make a suggestion though, and that is to integrate the normal Camera app like in the Dropbox app. Instead of using an in app Camera, it would be so much easier, especially for those who don’t have the Dropbox app, to just be able to use normal camera for automatic uploading via Heliog.
It’s pretty similar to the Dropbox app in terms of layout, there being a menu on the side where you can see what’s on your Dropbox. It also has a nice unfolding effect when you open and close it, illustrating the skeuomorphic edge I mentioned earlier.
In terms of sharing options, you can email and tweet the photo, but not much else. Facebook integration is limited, and only visible by clicking the ‘Share Links’ button. For some reason, it’s also only available when you select the image on the thumbnail screen, and not when you’ve opened the actual image. That’s disappointing, considering the Dropbox app has the option of Facebook and Facebook message.
However there are also areas where it’s better than the Dropbox app. For example, Heliog downloads all your photos automatically, so you can view them without an internet connection. With Dropbox you have to this manually.
To finish on a high, I’ve left the second biggest selling point of Heliog to last: customizability. You can decide if you want your photos sorted by date, size or name, which is something the Dropbox app doesn’t really offer and is very useful if you have lots of photos. You can also change the size of the thumbnails to suit your preference.
I’m going to admit before using the app I was sceptical about how much difference it would make compared to the Dropbox app, but once you’ve used Heliog, you won’t want to go back. Having an iPhoto-style view of all your photos is invaluable and it is so much easier to see and take in your photos than in the Dropbox app.
Plus, it’s nicely designed and clearly a lot of hard work has gone into making it as easy as possible to navigate and use. While some areas can definitely be improved, such as furthering Facebook integration and automatic uploading from the camera, I definitely think this is worth the money as design aside it also brings a couple of features the Dropbox app doesn’t have (offline viewing and customizability).
Price: $1.99 (App Store Link)
- Great user experience/design
- Thumbnail view of photos
- Offline viewing
- Facebook sharing limited and poorly signposted.
- Needs to be integrated with the normal Camera app for a better experience