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SmugMug on our iPhones!

July 13, 2007
SmugMug on iPhone

After camping out in line for iPhones for all of our employees, you knew we were gonna do something fun with it. And we have! After testing a new SmugMug release last night, we saw that Joe Hewitt had posted iUI and I thought it’d be fun to play around. About 30 minutes later, we had SmugMug on our iPhones! Turns out browsing SmugMug on your iPhone is a ton of fun – I can’t put it down.

Currently, you can access and browse your public albums on your iPhone. Simply go to http://YOURNAME.smugmug.com/iphone/ . Here’s an example: http://concours.smugmug.com/iphone/ We have lots more ideas already in the works, so I’m sure you’ll see lots more fun stuff soon. πŸ™‚

SmugMug on iPhone

There are some fairly neat things about what we’re doing, much of it made far easier by Joe’s excellent iUI:

  • The photos are resized on-the-fly by our servers to perfectly fit the iPhone. They’re gorgeous.
  • Yes, we detect the phone’s orientation (portrait / landscape) and show you the perfect resolution. You can rotate your phone at any time and we’ll seamlessly change to the right sizes.
  • Speed matters. So we only grab 10 of your albums at first, and allow you to bring more in at any time by clicking “more albums…”. Same deal with photos, only we grab 30 of them first, then let you pull more in if you’d like. Even on EDGE, it’s quite fast. And on WiFi, it screams.
  • The UI closely matches other iPhone apps, so it’s fairly familiar to iPhone users.
SmugMug on iPhone

Now, I love my iPhone, but I’ve gotta get on my soapbox a little bit here. Apple really really blew it with developers. I shouldn’t have to hack my way around their browser to build an app which will always be slower and clunkier than a native app. We need a real SDK to build native apps so they can be gorgeous and fast. We would have already built a photo sharing application that would blow your socks off – only we can’t.

Our customers are already telling us how sucky syncing with iPhoto is (I concur), and the fact that we can’t import photos from the web into the photo storage on the phone really sucks. Going the other way is even worse – we have a great camera and an internet-capable phone here, so why can’t I just take a photo and have it magically end up at SmugMug or Flickr or wherever? Braindead.

I apologize the app isn’t as fast or as slick as we would have liked – Apple has us shackled. If you’d like a faster, easier, slicker UI contact Apple and politely ask them to pay attention to their developers.

Thank goodness for Joe Hewitt and iUI. I’m hoping we can start helping out with iUI as we find ways we want to extend it. Here are some of our first thoughts:

  • There is no public variable or method for checking Orientation. It sucks to have to rewrite orientation checking code that already exists in the framework because it’s buried in an anonymous function. A custom event framework where we could just listen for orientation changes would be even better yet.
  • Using window.innerwidth to determine screenwidth for orientation detection was giving us heartburn in some cases where objects were wider than 320px. Instead we had to look at the toolbar which does remain a fixed width (at least in our testing) and proved to be more reliable. Oh, and we call it ‘portrait’ not ‘profile’ πŸ™‚

Anyway, those of you with iPhones, feel free to play with it and let us know what you think.

  1. July 13, 2007 at 3:22 pm

    Well, my iphone is going back (for a long list of reasons, that they may well fix eventually at which point I’ll repurchase πŸ˜‰ ).

    That said, i think the work being done to format sites for it is great, because it’s going to help out other, less capable, mobile browsers as well. I firmly hope that iUI degrades gracefully (or it gets added), so Blackberry and other users can experience it as well.

    Awesome site Don, and I love your blog entries! I just haven’t gotten the gumption to move off my own gallery2 installation and move to a “real” photo site πŸ™‚

  2. Jake
    July 13, 2007 at 3:35 pm

    Awesome. Very cool. Now all you guys need, ALL YOU NEED is better video support.

  3. Steve
    July 13, 2007 at 7:52 pm

    I agree with Richard… hopefully this IUI can degrade gracefully for other mobile devices. The foo.smugmug.com/iphone looks a lot better on my Treo than the main SmugMug site. However, I don’t NEED 480×260 images, and the thumbnail page kinda long (I suppose it’s fun to do the flick-scroll thing).

    Ideally there would be some way to show fewer and/or smaller thumbnails per page. I’m on T-Mobile which (like AT&T) is EDGE. Loading the page takes a while and must be just as painful on an iPhone w/o WiFi. How about having a page of icon-sized thumbnails instead of huge ones, which should look great on all kinds of mobile devices? Perhaps foo.smugmug.com/mobile for a sleeker, even better non-iPhone mobile view? Better yet, you could just look at the browser ID and auto-select this view like Google and so many other sites are doing now.

    BTW, does it strike anyone else as odd that sites are writing customized views specifically for iPhone, after Steve said “this is not some watered-down mobile web” ?

    In any case, if you’re going to water it down for iPhone, hopefully you can make a similar view for “the rest of us”. πŸ™‚ I’ve learned to live with lousy iPhoto to SmugMug interface, but as a paying SmugMugger I’d really like to be able to see and share my photos on a NON-iPhone.

  4. Jay
    July 13, 2007 at 8:58 pm

    You guys rock! Great job, especially without any true support.

    I disagree with the other comments – I think small thumbnails per page is a VERY pre-iphone concept. The ability to flick through the albums with some of the grace that the iphone albums have is great. The one thing that would be way cool was if we could still zoom into the pics though.

    Anyways, I love it how you guys get excited about this stuff and make things better for the rest of us! Now if only one of you guys could head over to google to implement IMAP for them….. πŸ˜‰

  5. July 13, 2007 at 9:48 pm

    I should probably blog about this (maybe tomorrow), and I really hate to be a jerk about this, but I really have zero interest in making something look better on Treos or Blackberrys.

    It’s their own fault for not shipping a decent browser in the phone. They are *such* a pain to write for, and the user interface is just terrible. Every consumer wants a decent browser, and every web company owner wants to develop for a decent browser. We finally got our wish and I’m thrilled.

    And I’m not building a customized view for the iPhone because it’s “watered down” or anything – I’m building it because the iPhone UI is so superior as to let me do neat new things with the web that I haven’t before. In some ways, the iPhone interface is *better* than a PC web browser. I’m hoping multi-touch comes to my desktop and laptop soon so I can use an interface like this there, too. An interface like this combined with lots more pixels could really be magical.

    I’m building this because it’s a great way to view your photos on-the-go. A Blackberry or Treo are not. Sorry. 😦

    • December 31, 2008 at 6:42 am

      This worked fairly well on my Samsung Omnia using Opera. Can't really complain to much.

  6. July 14, 2007 at 8:55 am

    Hey, this works quite nicely on the Nokia N95 and also the Opera Mini browser !

    Would you consider renaming the context “phone” instead of “iphone” so there would not be a moment of shame when accessing it with other devices? πŸ™‚

    Splendid work on Smugmug as a whole by the way!

  7. July 14, 2007 at 9:17 am

    Here’s the URL to submit iPhone feedback and feature requests to Apple:


  8. July 14, 2007 at 2:24 pm


    Thanks! Updated the post to link directly to that page, and submitted a few requests myself. Appreciate the heads-up!

  9. July 15, 2007 at 9:15 am


    It’s not being a jerk; you did in fact design it for the iPhone so having it work for the rest of us is just a nice bonus πŸ™‚ And i think that mobile Safari IS going to force Opera and RIM to catch up w/ their browsing tech. Either way we all win!

    (By the way I may (re)pick up a 4GB iPhone by Xmas anyway if they ever release any of these supposed updates…until then however my BB does everything I need and more in a much more efficient fashion.)

  10. July 15, 2007 at 9:37 pm

    are you uploading pictures via email from your iPhone? it’s kind of a pain to have to type your “password” into the subject line to upload via email to smugmug. It would be much cooler if you could just send the picture to username+password@photos.smugmug.com so I could store it in the address book. Flickr allows you to do this…. of course I’m flee’ing Flickr over to smugmug as we speak!

  11. July 17, 2007 at 6:43 pm

    Wow – very cool – yet another reason to love my iphone and to love smugmug – thanks for keeping up with new ideas and ways to show my photos to others – nice to know you all are always improving and adding things to make smugmug great !!

  12. Rob
    July 24, 2007 at 1:20 pm

    I think your iphone interface is fantastic. However, I have a few password protected galleries that I would like to be able to view using the iphone interface. Any chance?

  13. July 27, 2007 at 6:13 pm

    I love it! One more reason to love my iPhone. My photos look stunning. Thank you.

  14. October 3, 2007 at 11:28 pm

    Great work! We’ve added your project to the iPhone apps gallery over at appsafari http://www.appsafari.com/photos/1195/smugmug/

    Also, if you have not done so already be sure to do a test for the iPod touch as well, to make sure those users can also use your cool app, Safari on that device has a different user-agent string.

    Keep up the good work!

  15. October 6, 2007 at 4:31 am


    I’m very curious how you are able to do the dynamic resize server-side. The URLs look like just regular image URLs, but there must be some magic happening.

    You can request any custom image size you want, as documented here:

    Are you using the PHP image functions?

    If so, how are you able to get the URL to look like a regular image and not a PHP page?


  16. Trevor
    October 6, 2007 at 10:16 pm

    Any chance of getting the iphone stuff working with password protected galleries?

  17. John
    October 11, 2007 at 5:51 pm

    I can’t believe I didn’t know this was available…I can’t tell you how many times I’ve tried to share my pics when away from a desktop, and have waited a very long time to bring up my smugmug site and navigate to the 2 or 3 I was looking for within an album over EDGE.

    This is great. Two comments, probably repetitious…why can’t I zoom the images, in either portrait or landscape…they aren’t taking full real estate, yet no zoom is available.

    Second, I would echo Trevor’s comments re: protected galleries.

  18. Apollux
    December 5, 2007 at 1:50 am

    the /iphone/ version works OK on the Nokia 6300 (while the normal version barely works on the same device).

    The only problem so far is that when seeing galleries only a random couple of pictures are loaded by the web browser before the “loading data” times out. So you get a couple of thumbnails and a lot of blind links.

    Another problem is that when you select a picture it is downloaded into the phone gallery, but the image is so large that gives an out of memory error when you try to open the saved image.

  19. Apollux
    December 5, 2007 at 1:53 am

    Forgot to mention: on the Nokia 6300 the search photo box is non operative. You can type the criteria but you can’t select the “search” link/button.

  20. January 17, 2008 at 3:52 pm

    how about an apple-touch-icon.png for a nice shiny smuggy on the iphone home page when you bookmark your galleries?

  21. December 4, 2008 at 1:24 am

    Just found this. Great work. On my iPod Touch with 2.2 software it works great. Thank you thank you thank you.

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