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Usability improvements headline ShutterSnitch 2.5  
Monday, July 16, 2012 | by Rob Galbraith
ShutterSnitch, our favourite iOS app for receiving pictures from a wireless-capable camera, is soon to be updated to v2.5. The new version brings with it some of the best usability improvements in the app since v2.0 was released back in 2010.

ShutterSnitch 2.5 includes a revamped interface for applying star ratings that is much quicker than the previous method, faster zooming on Retina display devices, smarter handling of cached image thumbs and previews that should lead to consistently rapid swiping through even large picture collections, critical bug fixes, the addition of altitude, speed, and heading geolocation embedding into JPEGs (with the help of the companion GeoSnitch app) and more.

High Marks: ShutterSnitch 2.5's new ratings overlay, shown here on the right side of the screen. Click to enlarge (Photo in screenshot by Rob Galbraith/Little Guy Media)

Changes in ShutterSnitch 2.5

The key improvements are:
  • A new five-star ratings overlay that persists when swiping from picture to picture. This accelerates the process of assigning a rating considerably. The overlay can be moved from the right side of the screen to the left; while dragging the overlay, the interface temporarily changes to show the RGB values of the location under your finger.

  • Faster zooming on the newest iOS devices. If you use a third-generation iPad, iPhone 4S or other iOS model with a pixel-dense Retina display, expect a dramatic boost in zoom speed. The block-by-block transition from fuzzy to crisp now completes 2-4x faster, depending on the device. This makes zooming to check focus and detail much more efficient than it was previously, particularly on Apple's newest iPad.

  • Image thumb and preview caching tweaks. The details are nerdy, but the upshot is not: under-the-hood image caching changes should result in fewer instances of really slow swiping from picture to picture, including after when ShutterSnitch has received pictures from two or more sources simultaneously or when entering a collection that has no cached images present.

    When we use ShutterSnitch, it's often to quickly review what we've just shot or to zip through a collection while presenting in front of a small group. These tasks could, at times, get bogged down by a forced pause between pictures. Now, if our experience is any indication, there will be comparatively few times in which the app will force a cache-related pause.
We've been beta testing ShutterSnitch 2.5 for some time, as well as just using it on assignment, and the net effect of these three changes is an app that is noticeably smoother and peppier at core tasks such as viewing, zooming and applying ratings. In this release, developer Brian Gerfort has done a superb job of eeking out maximum performance from ShutterSnitch. This is no small feat, given that iOS devices are light on the RAM and CPU horsepower that's usually required for efficient photo processing.

Other improvements include the ability to copy photos between collections (rather than just move, as before), the option to embed altitude, speed and heading into JPEGs (in addition to latitude and longitude, which have been supported in ShutterSnitch since v2.4.1), bug fixes related to FTP and IPTC metadata and better app responsiveness while viewing pictures with highlight alerts switched on.

Note: ShutterSnitch 2.5's geolocation-embedding features work in conjunction with GeoSnitch 1.1. We wrote about GeoSnitch 1.0 back in June.

One step back

ShutterSnitch 2.5 is a step forward in almost all respects. It does, however, take one step back as well. The Backpack mode of v2.4.1, which enables ShutterSnitch to continue to receive pictures long after the device's screen has turned off, is absent from v2.5. Apple had originally allowed the feature when they approved v2.4.1, says Gerfort, but subsequently rejected this capability while reviewing a newer version, prompting Backpack mode's removal from v2.5. Gerfort hopes he'll be able to bring it back in a post-2.5 release. As of now, though, Backpack mode's future is uncertain.

If you depend on Backpack mode then you may want to pass on ShutterSnitch 2.5, as sweet an update as it is. Alternatively, you can roll your own variant of Backpack mode by setting your iOS device to keep the screen on perpetually, turning the brightness down to minimum and stowing it in that state. We've used an iPad 2 and ShutterSnitch this way on multiple occasions in the past and found it be a viable, if clunky, workaround. Turning down screen brightness reduces battery drain sufficiently to allow the app to receive pictures reliably for hours.

ShutterSnitch 2.5 in review now

ShutterSnitch 2.5 is in the App Store review process now. Once available, which is likely to be in the next few days or so, it will be a free update for licensed users or US$15.99 (or the approximate equivalent) for a new license. Keep an eye on the iTunes App Store on your computer or the App Store on your iOS device for its release. Update, July 18, 2012: ShutterSnitch 2.5 is now available.
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