Built by Microsoft Research’s FUSE labs, Microsoft Xim is an app that aims to simplify mobile photo-sharing with a twist.
The product’s motto of ‘share your photos, not your phone’ is probably a give-away on what the new app hopes to achieve. What’s unique and unusual about Xim is that not everyone who receives a Xim needs the app to view photos. Only the person who starts the sharing session needs to have the app installed on their mobile device.
It’s as simple as downloading the app, choosing participants from your address book, or by entering their email or phone number, and start sharing via a slideshow. Anyone else given access to the Xim will receive a link, and they can view the shared photos on a web browser, or in the app itself if they have it installed on their device. Swipe, zoom or pan and everyone follows suit with the same view synched.
Up to 50 photos can be shared for each Xim collection and participants can also insert their own images into an active session. Saved images can be pulled from the device’s camera roll or from the cloud. The app has support for OneDrive, Dropbox, Facebook and Instagram.
Watch the video below for a quick overview of the app’s capabilities.
Using Microsoft Xim
Upon starting the app for the first time, you’ll be prompted to go through a registration process. You can bypass the slow and manual process of inputting your particulars and creating a new Xim profile by using the auto-population via Facebook feature.
Once you’re logged in successfully, you’ll be redirected to the home screen. This is where the fun begins and you’ll get to create your very first Xim collection, which Microsoft has affectionately dubbed these as ‘Xims’.
But before getting to the photo selection, you’ll need to select your participants first, through their phone numbers or email addresses.
Next up, photo-picking. Your choices can be derived from either your device’s camera roll, or from OneDrive, Dropbox, Facebook and Instagram.
The friends you’ve shared your Xim with will receive a link and you will be able to zoom, swipe and slide through the photos, with their devices keeping up with yours. There’s also a group chat feature that lets everyone comment on photos or add participants from their contact list during the preview.
If any of your friends have Microsoft Xim installed and using it to participate in your Xim collection, they too can add their own images and update the Xim.
“All content in a Xim expires after ‘a little while’,” said Microsoft, quite like SnapChat. This resolves the privacy issue of having your images circulated in the cloud as well as saving storage space in your mobile device.
Xim is positioned as an app to avoid having to pass your phone to friends to view photos in person, but it seems unlikely that an app can replace the simple experience of huddling next to a friend, giggling whilst flicking through photos from a recent vacation or trip.
Some reviewers have also commented that sharing a slideshow among various participants isn’t much of a ‘wow’ factor. There’s lots of other methods to share photos these days with chat messengers like Whatsapp and Line.
Personally, I do see Xim as an app with great potential besides sharing vacation photos among friends and family over dinner.
Imagine Xim being used in a classroom. It feels perfectly suited for teachers to share resources and materials, whilst simultaneously ensuring pupils keep up with the rest of the class and aren’t distracted. Students could interject with healthy discussions of their own and participate actively at any time.
In medical practice, doctors can initiate Xim collections with patients with graphs, charts, x-rays while discussing possible treatment plans.
Even in presentations and boardroom discussions, especially those that span across various geographical locations, Microsoft Xim could be a useful tool. In tandem with Microsoft’s Skype perhaps?