BlackBerry roundup: Mobile photo apps

We take three mobile photo apps for BlackBerry head to head.

BlackBerry

Of the photo solutions mentioned in the BlackBerry forums I've been visiting lately, SplashPhoto and Ascendo Photos were the two most-often mentioned. That's just the kind of head-to-head challenge I like, and I threw in one more, ITookThisOnMyPhone, for flavor.

Ascendo Photos Desktop ($29.95) gathers JPEG, GIF, BMP, TIFF, and PNG photos on your PC in a crisp, smart interface. The photo organization is reminiscent of Picasa--sibling images in a folder are horizontally arranged, with folders scrolling vertically. Photos drag and drop into an emulator, which you use to center the photo and perform basic editing--rotation, flipping, and color correction. Three sizing choices determine if photos appear cropped, shrunken, or alarmingly large. A button click transfers photos from desktop to device.

On the BlackBerry, Ascendo Photos shows transfered images clearly, but not quite cogently. It requires a click too many to see your photos, and the app wastes an opportunity to corral snaps taken from the cell phone. However, there's good file information; options to save to phone or SD memory, add galleries, and assign icons; and the ability to e-mail photos.

Ascendo Photos

Ascendo Photos Desktop has easy-access editing features, and simple, one-click publishing.

I'm only mentioning SplashPhoto to give voice to my frustrations. A direct Ascendo Photos competitor, SplashPhoto ($29.95) gets high user praise for what to me is clearly outmoded software. Too much can go wrong in the multiple syncs it requires to get SplashPhoto Desktop and SplashPhoto for BlackBerry to communicate, as it did each of the three times I attempted a clean install. Three's enough, especially with an unhelpful and unresponsive "help desk" team. SplashPhoto fans will likely disagree and can present their case in the comments.

However, I take less of a dim view of SplashPhoto's functionality on the BlackBerry, which trumps Ascendo Photo in sniffing out and storing existing photos, therefore making for more complete categorization. Still, BlackBerry's native media center offers more features and style at no additional cost.

ITookThisOnMyPhone

Then there's ITookThisOnMyPhone, a new, free mobile- and Web-app hybrid you download from your PC or over the air by visiting itookthisonmyphone.com from your browser. Essentially a password-protected media locker, ITookThisOnMyPhone holds onto BlackBerry settings to automatically upload photos taken after the app is added. Like Ascendo Photos, it won't seek images already sitting pretty on your device.

While ITookThisOnMyPhone will let you download photos from the Web to your desktop, there's no way to upload them after they've been tweaked, and the app is entirely unidirectional. Don't expect to drop a photo into your account and see it on your Pearl or Curve. In this case, you get what you pay for. The app isn't totally useless, but active photo-swappers can get much more out of other free locker services like Thumbplay and 3Guppies, which do offer bidirectional photo push through their Facebook and MySpace apps. For a basic locker service that doesn't pummel you with unwanted offers and services, ITookThisOnMyPhone is a good choice.

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