Next Big Thing? Photocasting

Photocasting in iPhoto

Except for Intel-based hardware, the big thing here at Macworld seems to be syndicating photos over the net — or Photocasting.

Not only did Steve Jobs showcase a new photocasting feature in iPhoto on Tuesday, on Monday ex-Apple evangelist Guy Kawasaki introduced the Mac version of a new photocasting application called FilmLoop.

Photocasting isn’t new — several photoblogs offer syndicated snaps via RSS, as do photo-sharing websites like Flickr and Buzznet. But until now, few desktop applications made it easy to download pictures from a camera and push them automatically to friends’ and relatives’ machines.

In his keynote speech, Jobs demonstrated how photos and galleries in a new version of iPhoto can be pushed, or photocast, to subscribers’ computers.

“This is podcasting — for photos,” Jobs said.

Instead of publishing to the web, photos are delivered automatically to subscriber’s computers. In iPhoto, the user creates a photocast album. All the pictures added to, or deleted from, this album are automatically pushed to subscriber’s iPhoto libraries, where they show up in a gallery in the source list.

“It’s like magic,” Jobs said, with typical understatement. “You take away the machinery, and it’s just like magic. It’s amazing.”

Publishing a photocast requires the new version of iPhoto, which has been updated as part of Apple’s $80 iLife 06 suite, and a .Mac membership (TK a year) — but subscribers can be on any platform.

“Anyone can subscribe. You don’t even need a Mac,” Jobs said.

Meanwhile, Kawasaki’s FilmLoop combines iPhoto photocasting with Flickr-like photo groups.

Not only can FilmLoop users subscribe to each other’s galleries, or “loops,” they can add comments and even contribute their own snaps.

The FilmLoop network has public loops dedicated a wide range of topics, from news and sports to pictures of all the Corvettes for sale on eBay.

The FilmLoop system is free — but loops are sprinkled with ads.

Kawaski is a member of the company’s board and a backer through his firm, Garage Technology Ventures.

Beyond Macworld, several tinkerers have hacked together homebrew podcasting systems, including Chris Pirillo using a Sony PSP, and Philip Torrone with Flickr and some scripts.

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