The number of photos on our smartphone’s camera roll (and DSLR and whatever other photo-snapping device you prefer to use) can feel like a testament to a year gone by. Seriously, my camera roll is nearing 11,000 pics — how did I possibly manage to take so many photos? It’s true that smartphones make capturing moments a lot easier—but they also make it significantly harder to manage (and share) the experiences you hold near and dear.
That’s why I love these two gadgets: A smart photo album and a connected picture frame. They make it a breeze to actually view and display the photos you took the time to lovingly snap, and they’re gorgeous to boot.
Nowadays, after an event/vacation/fun night out, you’re lucky if you post one pic to Instagram, let alone a full Facebook album. But friends and family want to see more than just a single snap or a disorganized photo stream. Joy ($499) is a digital photo album that makes it possible to assemble a curated gallery in a few minutes— one that is organized into a beautiful Instagram-worthy layout.
To get started with device (which has a look and feel that’s similar to a tablet), you simply need to download the Joy app. There, you can easily load albums and photos straight from your camera roll and invite friends and family to view them and add their own pics, all of which is easily viewable by via the app or on the Joy device.
A few things worth noting about the Joy device: It has a crisp 13.3-inch HD display, so it’s 66 percent larger than a tablet and much more photo-ready. The back is also shaped like a book binding to mimic the effect of holding a photo album in your hand and it lives on a wireless charging stand that can be set to slideshow mode.
Of course, we all remember the digital photo album crop that surfaced out over a decade ago that sat on your countertop, but Joy is different. Instead of simply cycling through pic after pic, Joy aims to tell a story. That’s why pics and videos are integrated together in albums and the option to add audio to images is available so that you can record your own voice narrating exactly what’s happening in the pic. (What an amazing time capsule!)
As for storage, every Joy photo album comes with 10 GB of free storage. Not bad. And here’s my favorite part: If a family member has their own Joy device, you can share your screens and call each other device-to-device so you can swipe through albums together in real time. Definitely a fun way to relive special moments.
For a more art-focused take on sharing your pics, I’m really into Meural ($595), which is basically a digital canvas, well-suited to a gallery wall that rotates world-class art with the wave of your hand. (For real—all you have to do is wave your hand in front of the frame for the work of art or photo to change.)
The idea behind it stems from the fact that when you invest in art, the same piece tends to sit on your wall for years—decades even. Meural is designed so that you can experience new works of art frequently and on a canvas that doesn’t even look digital to the naked eye.
To choose the art you want to display, you can access the Meural app, which is regularly updated with new pieces. You can also tap into your own library of photos—say, a gorgeous pic of a winery from a vacation last year or even a family photo—and add those to the mix. What’s cool (and convenient) is that the canvas itself is designed to rotate so you’re not limited to just vertical or horizontal images. (The smart technology also automatically detects the orientation of the photo.)
The goal of the founders is to make art a lot more accessible, not to mention give users the ability to change it out often—and cultivate and display their own talents.