Microsoft launches Windows Live FrameIt – Customise your photo feeds

Wow I love these guys. No hiding away by removing web pages inadvertently left on the internet, instead they come straight out and blog about it, launching a public release at the same time. You can check out the service, Windows Live FrameIt, over at http://frameit.com which has just launched into beta.

As we mentioned earlier this week, FrameIt allows users to customise the content delivered via RSS, to enhance the functionality of RSS-enabled devices. In particular, if you have a photo frame that supports feeds, then this is for you!

After logging into FrameIt for the first time, you’ll be presented with a first-run page, explaining what the service is about and asking how you want to continue. The choices are either using a sample collection setup for you, or starting from nothing. The default collections are their team blog photos and the weather for Seattle, basic but effective pointers showing what you can produce. Given this is the first release its no surprise that the UI is not completely user-friendly, so you may have to muddle your way through the various options.

 

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Within FrameIt there are a number of default media sources that are currently setup, which appear in the top half of the main page. From news headlines, through to photos and digital art from SmugMug. There’s even military photos in case you wants helicopters and tanks in your house! There’s also a standard RSS module, allowing you to add feeds from any site of your choosing.

I tried using the Liveside RSS feed, and set it up to display as photos. The results were impressive, with FrameIt showing a snapshot of the top of the page, essentially turning it in a subliminal RSS reader in the home.You can check out our entire FrameIt feed at http://liveside.frameit.com.

The key feature is the ability to setup each feed coming into FrameIt, customising when and how content is displayed. From time of day, to display order, this aggregation and management of feeds takes the personalisation of these devices to a new level.

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The bottom half of the main page shows the content you have chosen to display on your frame, and lets you configure some general options. There’s the option to use a custom url, as shown above with the liveside feed, as well as some technical options such as changing the nature of the feed as well as the size of images and the background colour. There’s also a pin option, allowing you to restrict your feed to just friends and family, however that just seems to put the pin at the start of the url – not that secure really then.

Not being someone who is content to use the basics, and wishing to deflect the almost inevitable comments, I wanted to add my Facebook photos to FrameIt. The actual gadget to do this has been hidden because it isn’t working yet (the session key setup gives an error), however if you visit this url you’ll be able to set it up and see it is upcoming. Just enter in your Facebook username and then click the “Log in” link. This will take you to Facebook, where you’ll need to grant access to frameit.live.com to use your content. Obviously if you don’t click yes you won’t be able to view your photos in FrameIt. Note again, this feature isn’t currently working!

Overall the service is definitely in a niche at this point in time, however I have a feeling this could prove to be a surprise killer service in a few years. The assumption is that feed-enabled devices, in particular photo frames, will become commonplace in the home. The is supported by the FrameIt frame setup where it says:

“If your photo frame supports using just the FrameIt feed name, enter the following name:

This suggests that agreements between Microsoft and hardware vendors will be forthcoming over the next few months and years. So long as we avoid a repeat of the Messenger phone they could be on to a winner – CES 2009 anybody?