Miss the days of real-world slideshows, when your guests would come by to see your vacation photos and hear you tell the story behind the shots? Ukrainian startup TopTechPhoto launched a service called Live.pics.io on Wenesday that aims to reproduce the experience online.
The service works over a private chat room on the Web, but the company plans to launch a Facebook app in a week or two that uses the service, too.
Sites such as Flickr or Facebook are fine for sharing photos, but they aren't set up for a live conversational tour of a photo gallery. Screen-sharing services can help, but they can mean lousy resolution -- the last thing you want while looking at photos.
"Basically, it's live collaborative image sharing: images are accompanied with the voice of the session host in a real-time," said Konstantin Shtondenko, chief business development officer.
To use the Live.pics.io, you drag a batch of photos into a browser window to upload them. The service generates a Web address that you send to the person or people with whom you want to share the photos.
When the recipient opens the link it'll launch a window showing the photos privately and open a channel for voice communications. When you advance to the next photo, the other person will see it, too -- including support for high-resolution displays such as Apple's Retina models.
The service supports not just JPEG files but, unusually, some raw-format photos from higher-end cameras. That includes raw photos in Nikon's NEF format, Canon's CR2, and Adobe Systems' DNG. Pics.io has developed Web-based software for handling raw photos, which ordinarily require native software such as Adobe Lightroom or Apple iPhoto to decode.
Even though the service doesn't share those high-resolution originals during the slideshow, which would slow things down a lot, you do of course have to upload them before the slideshow is ready, something that could dampen your enthusiasm for a spontaneous slideshow moment.
Right now the service works only on Firefox and Chrome, and people must all be using the same browser. They should be able to interoperate with compatibility improvements in the underlying WebRTC technology for audio and video chat on the Web. Those browser versions are due to arrive in coming weeks.