On Friday I posed the question: “What’s the best Portfolio App for iPad?” For the most part I didn’t get a ton of responses and the ones I got were Apps that I had already tried with the exception of one: Minimal Folio. As the name implied this App is not big on having lots of features. The App is simply and elegantly designed to allow you to show your photos on the big and beautiful iPad display. Yes, this App also takes advantage of the Retina Display on the New iPad as well. While this App doesn’t have as many features as say Portfolio for iPad or Xtra Folio, but it does the one thing that I wish all the others would do and that is “Sync” with Dropbox. Note I didn’t say “Import”, I said “sync”! Portfolio for iPad can import my images from Dropbox manually, but it currently doesn’t sync them.
Why is Dropbox important?
The problem I have with most of these Apps is not how well they display the photos or the features they have in playing videos, having multiple portfolios, etc., the problem is that once you get the photos in and organized the problem is doing future updates. For example, I have a portfolio called “Recent Work”. This means that I add new photos to it regularly and delete older photos. Currently it’s a pain to do this simple task of updating in all the other Apps.
My Lightroom workflow that ties this all together
I manage my photos in Adobe Lightroom 4. I organize them in Lightroom Collections (albums). I also created a “Hard Disk Publish Service with “Smart Collections” that mirror the manual collections to my Dropbox folder. These Smart Collections, like “Recent Work” create JPGs at 2048 pixels on the longest dimensions and put them in folders in Dropbox that I can then sync with Minimal Folio. Once I click the Publish button to update any of my Smart Collections, i can then go to Minimal Folio and tap sync. The new photos come in automatically!
It gets better
There’s an iPhone/iPod touch version too. Since the App can sync with Dropbox I also have my Portfolios on my iPhone too. Once I had the iPad version set up, I bought the iPhone version. I linked it to my Dropbox account, tapped “Sync with Dropbox” and all my current portfolios came over to my iPhone like magic. While I appreciate there being an iPhone/iPod touch version I do wish that this was a Universal App instead of two separate Apps.
The Bottom Line
While Minimal Photo lacks things like slideshows, music, and custom branding I’m liable to use it more because I know that it will always have the latest versions of my portfolios with the tap of a “sync” button. Short of having an App that ties directly to Lightroom this is one of the best ones to support my workflow. Also the price is right compared to many others. There are more full featured Apps out there and if you’re an iPhoto or Aperture user perhaps the built-in Photos App is all you need. However, if you’re a Lightroom user and you want an easy way to get those photos onto your iDevices and keep them updated, organize them in the order you want, I don’t know of a better option. Minimal Folio also works with video and PDFs. It allows you to zoom in on your images. Yes you can bring images in from iTunes or from the built-in Camera Roll/Albums. Special shout out to my Google+ follower Johannes Henseler for pointing this App out to me.