Jamie Thomson

Thoughts, about stuff

Zune Photo Sync

with one comment

I had an idea yesterday in regard to getting photos onto Zune devices and I posted about it here on the Zune forums. Basically I thought it would be pretty cool if we could subscribe to RSS feeds of photos and have them automatically sync to our device. Here’s what I had to say on the matter:

Currently in order to get photos/videos onto our devices we have to manually put that media into a place where Zune software will see it. Wouldn’t it be better if we could subscribe to RSS feeds of photos/videos from sites like Flickr, Live Spaces, YouTube, MSN Video and have them automatically appear in our Zune media collection? After all, this is pretty much the model that you follow with podcasts.

An added bonus: If the photos/videos were on Live Spaces/MSN Video then they wouldn’t have to be publicly accessible videos because we log onto those services using the same Live ID that we use to log onto Zune.

I got a reply from holydev from the Zune team:
Interesting.  If you had an RSS Feed of … um, say cuteoverload.com, since it is a site I like to visit, what would it look like in your library?  Where would you expect to see the feeds and their content go to?  How would it be sorted?
To which I replied:

Let’s take photos as an example. Here’s an RSS feed of photos related to a band that I like that I might like to have synced to my Zune device: http://api.flickr.com/services/feeds/photos_public.gne?tags=the+charlatans&lang=en-us&format=rss_200

I think you have 2 choices:

1. The RSS feed is defined in my library and the photos in the RSS feed get synced to my library – so the photos physically get downloaded to my computer. So in actual fact the photos still exist in your media store as they do today, the only difference is that you have saved yourself the manual effort of moving them there. And that is no bad thing. In fact its a GREAT thing compared to the functionality today.

Advantages: Photos are downloaded without my Zune device being present.

Disadvantages: Photos are proliferated to three different places (i.e. The cloud, my computer and my Zune device) – probably more than they need to be.


2. The RSS feed is defined in my library but the photos never actually physically appear on my computer. Instead my Zune device is synced directly to the photos in the cloud. As with option 1, the great part of syncing with an RSS feed is that the manual effort of moving photos to a place where Zune can see them has been removed.

Advantages: Photos only exist in two places, in the cloud on and my device. Plus, in theory the Zune software (and my computer) is no longer needed. My Zune device should be able to sync photos directly from the cloud whenever it comes in sight of a publicly accessible wifi connection.

Disadvantages: If the syncing is still going via my computer then my Zune has to be present in order for the photos to be downloaded. This means that the time taken to sync my Zune device is going to take longer than it does today.


Given the choice, I would prefer option 2. My time window for syncing is suitably large (i.e. overnight) that it wouldn’t be a problem, and I’m saving disk space on my computer.

Sorting? I don’t care really! The interesting thing would be the ability to look at photos on my device by date taken or by tag in such a way that that I didn’t know (or even care) whether the photo originally existed on my hard drive or in the cloud.

Interestingly that last paragraph is influenced by my experience of using Windows Live Photo Gallery which does a great job of enabling me to browse my photos by tag or by metadata.
Since I wrote this I’ve had another thought. Suppose I were hosting a party at my house and I were using the fantastic new eye-fi card (which I plan to get hold of pretty soon) to automatically upload photos to the cloud from my digital camera then, using option 2, I could have them automatically appear on my Zune as well and be able to show them around to my party guests while they are still there. How cool would THAT be?
So, there ya go. Some ideas about syncing photos and videos to my Zune from the cloud. Let me know what you think. Do you agree that option 2 would be better? Honestly, let me know in the comments below, I’d be interested in hearing what you think!

Written by Jamiet

February 22, 2008 at 8:25 pm

Posted in Zune

One Response

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  1. I love it. Hopefully the Zune folks take this idea to heart and get it out there. I just saw the Live Mesh commercial, and they hinted at something like this. Who knows, maybe it will happen.


    February 28, 2009 at 3:52 pm

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