Photo printing service Photobox, who specialise in putting pictures of cats onto mugs, and that sort of thing, are extending their API to integrate with Facebook. Very soon you’ll be able to put any photos from your Facebook account onto mousemats, or paperweights, or keyrings, or even onto stretched canvas. Just the thing for a last minute birthday present for Mum – your grinning face on a handbag.
This morning, I got a preview of the new service. I reckon that tying in with Facebook will considerably expand the usefulness of Photobox’s services by allowing users to import their Facebook photos directly to Photobox and vice versa. You can either order prints direct through a Facebook application, or send your Facebook photos over to their main site and order there.
Super Photos is most useful if you upload pictures straight from your digital camera to the Facebook application. Normally, if you upload straight to Facebook, the site will significantly compress and degrade the quality of your images. If you upload through the new application, however, then Photobox will keep a high-res copy of your pictures on their servers (as if you’d uploaded direct to their website) as well as pushing your photos out on Facebook. They’ll also add a little bit of metadata to the image which identifies it, so that if you try and use a low-res image on the site, it’ll automatically fetch the high-res one for you. Very nifty.
But how do you know if your photo is a high enough resolution to be suitable for printing? Luckily Photobox have thought of that – a little meter indicates whether the match between the size of original image and the size of the print is “good”, “medium” or “bad”. This is very useful – it’s always horrible getting back a digital print to find out that it’s blurry because the original you sent them was way too small.
So is it worth using? Well, if you take a lot of photos, and like to get physical copies printed, then it’s great. If you want to put a picture of your mate asleep covered in whipped cream on a tshirt, then it’s brilliant for that, too. For normal photo use though, it misses out one big thing that’s part of the standard Facebook photo application. There’s no “tagging” functionality for your friends. Once you’ve uploaded you have to go back into the album and tag everyone that way. It might not sound like much, but it’s a bit of a pain, and means you’re more likely to skip that step entirely.
The service will be entering private beta next week, and if it sounds like something you’d love to try, then keep an eye out, because we’ll have some codes to get into that beta for Tech Digest readers next week. The service will eventually launch to the public in a month or so’s time.