One More Reason to Use Google+ for Photo Backups

I've been using Google+ for free automatic backups of my iPhone photos. It's not perfect, but if you can live with its limitations — the main one being that photo size for a free plan is limited to 2048x2048px — then it's pretty amazing. Seamless, unlimited and free is just what the doctor ordered for me personally since, honestly, most of the photos I take I don't really look at ever again.

Today there's one more reason to use Google+ for photo backups, at least if you use Gmail, which I certainly do. Starting today you can insert photos directly from your Google+ backup into emails composed with the Gmail web browser client. It works great, and it's definitely one of those things I'd been thinking, "Why can't I do this?" about. Well, now I can, and I'm pretty pleased about it.

They say that Google is rolling the feature out gradually throughout the day, so it may not appear instantly for everyone. For me, I was able to get access to it by simply reloading my Gmail page.

Mailbox Is Terrible

I admit, I bought into the hype the first time 'round. I got on the waiting list. I got excited. And then I even used Mailbox for a while. Then I stopped. But then I found a use for it again. For a while I was happy to use Mailbox for certain things, certain use-cases. And then it broke.

After the release of iOS7, Mailbox's notifications got wonky. Notifications were sort of key to my use of the app so it became a non-starter; I stopped using Mailbox. Again.

Yesterday, Dropbox announced a new Autoswipe feature in Mailbox alongside a new Android client, as well as a Mac desktop app in beta. So, like a chump, I decided to take the iOS Mailbox client for yet another spin, hoping they would have corrected some of the issues on this momentous launch day and that Autoswipe might prove useful. What I found was the same app I had installed months ago, with no new features that I could discern and a whole host of terrible bugs.

Evidence of Mailbox's problems

Evidence of Mailbox's problems

The first bug I encountered was in the Settings section, where setting up Snoozes is just plain broken (see the screenshot above). Also, swiping to archive occasionally had a strange, jerky behavior that did not instill confidence. App Badges don't work reliably. And, finally, the most egregious bug, shaking the phone to undo an Archive action simply stopped working for no apparent reason.

Moreover, the promised Autoswipe feature was nowhere to be found. The Verge said this about manually activating the new feature:

Inbox hero: inside Mailbox's master plan to make email suck less
"If you want to manually archive any thread for good before waiting on Mailbox’s suggestion, you can open it up, and then tap and hold on the archive button."

But try as I might, tapping and holding the Archive button (or any of the buttons, for that matter) simply does nothing. Having seen no evidence of Autoswipe in my version of Mailbox, I can't say one way or the other if this flagship feature even exists in my version of the app. Maybe it's not available on iOS yet, but this is not self-evident from any of the press information I've come across, and if that is indeed the case, I can only say that once again Mailbox fails to come anywhere close to living up to its hype and is a major disappointment.

Mailbox offers a tempting proposition: a new way to access and manage Email. This is something that has immense appeal to me, and to many others. But their implementation seems to be hopelessly broken. There is a sense that they're not really taking email all that seriously, and I feel like a guinea pig. There was a brief moment when the app worked well for me, but that moment ended, and since then the app has only gotten worse.

Mailbox is terrible — one of the worst apps I've ever used — and it seems to be staying that way for the foreseeable future.


Not My Frustrations

The Verge writes:

This is the reversible USB cable that will end your frustrations
With support for USB 3.1, the new cables will offer bandwidth of up to 10Gbps, though their biggest benefit will surely be in eliminating the frustration of trying to plug devices in the right way round.

But the biggest frustration with USB, for me anyway, is the ridiculous assortment of different cable types.

Current USB Cable Types Image:

Current USB Cable Types

Adding yet another cable style to the mix is just going to make things worse.

I've never had a lot of trouble figuring out which way to insert a USB cable. There are usually only two choices. Finding the right cable, on the other hand, is a frequent problem that now seems poised to get even more complicated.

People screamed bloody murder when Apple introduced the new lightning cable for iOS devices, after over a decade of 30-pin connectors. But somehow this new USB cable is trumpeted as a problem-solver. It is, in fact, a money grab, plain and simple, and does little to help consumers.  

iCloud Authentication Fragmentation

Okay, now here's something I find confusing every time. If I've entered my iCloud account information in System Preferences:

Screenshot 2014-03-01 09.48.24.png

Shouldn't I not have to enter it anywhere else, ever again? And yet:

Screenshot 2014-03-01 09.48.27.png

It's great to have a single, central sign-on location for system-wide services, but it's really friggin' irritating when it only works for a subset of applications. App Store and iTunes ask for my iCloud password all the time as well. I suppose it's because I'm making a purchase, and it's probably a good security measure. But still, it's confusing and annoying.

Maybe there needs to be a distinction made between iCloud Syncing and iCloud Purchasing, because I think that's what's really going on. But iCloud authentication could really use some clarity, because right now it's all over the map.