The default Photos application on the iPad does a wonderful job of displaying images on Apple's mobile devices, but it lacks some needed features. Fortunately, there are third party apps that fill in the gaps. Let's examine the best photo album applications available in the App Store.
$3.99, app2.me/2566 (iPad only)
Stash is a password-protected photo, video, and document organizer, slideshow viewer, and Web browser—all rolled into one application. The interface is similar to Apple's Photos app. It contains menu controls across the top for exporting selected content to iTunes and the iPad Photo library or attaching it to an e-mail. But it's the photo management and security features of Stash that you will find most useful.
Unlike the Photos app, Stash lets you re-arrange items and move or copy them to sub-folders that you create within the app. Photos can be sorted by title, type, ratings, import time, last viewed, and view count. Like Apple's iPhoto application, you can also create Smart Albums within Stash. This is especially useful if you take the time to title and rate your imported photos, videos, and documents. Stash also contains an automatic slideshow feature; however, it doesn't have the transition effects found in Apple's Photos app.
Another unique feature of Stash is its built-in Web browser, which is very useful for downloading images from the Internet into the app's library. You can also copy and paste image files from other apps into Stash, as well import and export photos to and from your iPad's Photos library.
Importing items from your desktop computer into Stash must be done via iTunes. Surprisingly, there's no support in Stash for importing and exporting items via a Wi-Fi network.
Overall, Stash is a clean, well constructed app for both displaying and securing your photos and other content.
Cinq is one of the few apps that lets you access all your image files on your home computer, including those in your iPhoto library, and view them on your iPad or iPhone. You can also share photos on your Facebook or Twitter accounts.
Cinq integrates with the iPhone's camera, allowing you to take photos from within the app. Any photo you shoot is saved to the app's library folder and copied wirelessly (via Wi-Fi or 3G) to the Cinq Photo Viewer folder on your desktop computer. All this is done securely via a Wi-Fi, 3G, or EDGE connection, but to enable this feature you must first install Cinq Server software on your Mac or PC. You can download it for free on Cinq's website (cinq.tunaverse.com/index.php/download).
Cinq does have a few drawbacks. The app lacks an automatic slideshow viewer. In addition, the process for sending camera photos to your computer can sometimes be slow. More than a few times, I had to quit and restart the application to complete the process. The process of viewing photos stored on your home computer is slow at first, but is fairly fast once your photos are cached. Your computer also needs to be running in order to view stored images on your device. Cinq will awaken your computer if it's in sleep mode.
Despite these drawbacks, Cinq is very useful if you want to view image files stored on your computer but don't want to download copies of your image files to your mobile device.
Portfolio To Go; Web Albums
PortfolioToGo lets you access and view your photos saved on your Flickr account; Web Albums does the same for Google Web Albums. Both apps sport a high resolution, automatic slideshow features and have the ability to save images to your Photos library or e-mail them as attachments. PortfolioToGo also lets you send images to your Twitter and Facebook account.
Both apps cache and save your account photos on your mobile devices, which means that you can view them offline. These apps save you the trouble of connecting your mobile device to your computer in order to import photos. However, to remove the cached copies on your device, you will need to either delete them from your account or delete the app itself.
The interface designs of PortfolioToGo and Web Albums are well done, making them great image portfolios. Using your online accounts, you can create and arrange albums and galleries the way you would like them displayed on your mobile device. And with both apps, you are not limited to how many galleries you can showcase.
Great devices for viewing images
A few other image-showcasing apps are worth mentioning. ExploreFlickr (free, app2.me/2590) which lets you view a selection of the best Flicker photos from around the world. Digital Photo Frame HD (free: app2.me/2591) and Photo Wall for the iPad ($1.99, app2.me/2592) allow you to create photo collages out of the images you have saved to your device.