Lifeblog team has quietly released a new version of Lifeblog PC
application – 2.5. Lifeblog 2.5 PC is compatible with all Nseries multimedia computers and is now a default download option on Nokia’s web site.
I wish Lifeblog had a notification about new version in the application itself, like PC Suite has, so that those using older versions will know that there’s an update.
Installation on top of Lifeblog 2.1 was smooth. First visual impression – I’m in the dungeon. Light gray and orange tones of Lifeblog 2.0/2.1 are now replaced with black and blue colours. Especially dark it looks on low resolutions (like 1024×768 on my laptop) where black elements occupy greater part of the screen. Of course, appreciation of colours is very subjective. But taking into account the change that Nseries web site palette has undergone just a couple of weeks ago –
from black to light gray, the change in Lifeblog from light to dark is a bit surprising.
Next big surprise – my favourite items in the timeline have disappeared. Or rather the “favourites” tab has disappeared. Now instead of the blue frame favourites are indicated by a yellow star. It took me quite some time to figure out how to see only favourite items in the new version. You have to click on Tags button in the top right corner and select Favourites from the Content tags section.
Tag Manager is an interesting tool. It allows to rename/delete location and content tags, and choose types of items to be displayed in the timeline. Each of the tags/item types has a “hide” checkbox, which is from my point of view counterintuitive. It is more common to have to tick a checkbox to show something, rather that to hide something. It is really good that the good old search field that allows to display only wanted items on the timeline is still there.
Unfortunately filtering timeline using Tag Manager is not very intuitive and it is not consistent with the normal search.
- There’s a tag “Favourites” in the Tag Manager, but it is only selectable from the Tag Manager, it is not possible to search for “Favourites”.
- Searching by location and content is really simple with the “old” search – e.g. “Finland, church”. With the Tag Manager one has to use Ctrl-click to select one location tag and one content tag.
- Selecting tags produces less results that search, because it doesn’t look for contact/calendar data or even title of the item
- Tags are case-sensitive. “Kuusamo” and “kuusamo” are different locations, and selecting both of them results in no found items at all
Overall impression is that instead of an intuitive search bar where you just type what you need, users are encouraged to use a techie-oriented interface.
Another new interesting feature is item stacking. Explanation of the feature in Lifeblog Help is quite strange – it looks like “Stacking on the PC” topic is just a template. There are several new items in the View menu – Increase Stacking, Decrease Stacking, Open Stack, Close Stack. From what this feature does it looks like it groups items that are close to each other in time – the more the level of stacking, the wider timespan is used. Maximum level of stacking places all items that belong to the same day in one stack.
I haven’t found any shortcuts to increase/decrease stacking or open/close stack functions, so each action requires selecting an item from the menu (main or context). I’m not really sure what is the purpose of this feature – it doesn’t seem to improve the navigation or visual experience in the timeline.
New slide show implementation is pretty cool. It is possible to add background music and enable Ken Burns effect. When selecting the track for the background music I wasn’t able to select AAC tracks that I imported using Nokia Music Manager – only MP3 format is supported.
At last seek bars were introduced for video and audio clip playback – it is especially good since modern mulimedia computers are capable of recording pretty long videos.
Probably the best new feature in release 2.5 is image editing. Although image editing functionality is pretty basic (brightness, contrast, sharpness adjustment, cropping, red-eye removal, sepia/b&w and auto adjust), it is sufficient for everyday use.
Modified images are saved next to the original in the timeline – this is a great advantage over Picasa’s approach that doesn’t save the modified image in a file by default. Here I can see a usecase for the special type of stacking – so that only last edited version is visible, and the original is hidden under it. Also tilting would be extremely handy.
Despite a few hickups it looks like Lifeblog is continuing to evolve into direction of the ultimate mobile media management tool with excellent usability and visual innovation. Data organisation in timeline and possibility to search both on mobile and PC in a Mac Spotlight are still its killer features. Let’s see what comes next.