Apple #iPhone – Please let us upload Photo’s / Videos via iOS Safari

December 29, 2011

in ethnographers tools, ethnography, iphone, Mobility

mobilesafariphoto.jpgTime to complain about Apple’s highly restrictive iOS Safari policy. Here’s my example – you be the judge.

I am visiting a website on my mobile. It has a form that asks for a photo. However the choose photo file button is shaded out. Why? Because iOS Safari doesn’t allow you to upload files / photo’s form your iPhone. It also doesn’t allow you to download files although that’s not the issue I’d like resolving right now.

Is there any reason good enough to make me worried about uploading files and particularly photos off my iPhone without having an App for that installed? At one time, web apps that run in the browser were going to be the future. Today many apps are really just browser based in a simple wrapper (e.g. like PhoneGap) that makes them iPhone apps. That gets you a photo upload function for example. However, is that really necessary? Doesn’t it add complication for something simple when we don’t need it?

Now my simple forms apps that requires a photo was created using Gravity Forms. It runs on WordPress and is delivered in a nice iPhone / mobile format using WPTouchPro a wordpress plug-in. It works perfectly on my Samsung Galaxy (Android) and I’ve seen it working just fine on a Blackberry too. In fact on Android I can upload other things… like voice memos, and more. Now while I could come up with some additional customization and perhaps even a prettier APP – I’m talking about a quick mobile research project that doesn’t involve thousands of people. Apple’s policy is limiting flexibility and restricting what I can do with my simple app. I think it is stupid.

Now there are some APPs for the iPhone that have been built that aim to get around this problem. AurigmaUp is one example. Picup is another. You can also find source code for designing your own if you look. The first two apps are capable of launching from your iOS Safari browser form uploading your photo and returning to your form. Unfortunately, I’ve been unable to make that work. The developers/providers of both these apps are unwilling to help. Similarly, the Gravity Forms crowd isn’t interested. Neither is the WPTouchPro developers. To an extent I get it. Leaving your form in the iOS Safari browser, opening an APP and returning to the original browser window is sort of broken. It’s a fudge in any language.

For me, it is a time waste. It makes a prototyping opportunity more difficult. Yes I may want to create a full app later for many reasons. However, for today I’ve wasted too much time. I don’t have a decent explanation or understanding of why I shouldn’t be able to upload photos in your mobile browser to a form I have created. This seems like a simple thing to fix. It doesn’t create holes that I can see. It doesn’t or shouldn’t open up the download anything I want via the browser which I sort of get and yet is very restrictive too. I understand although I may not agree that limiting downloads re movies and music is not in the best interests of the platform. Yet you have no problem letting me save an image I’ve found on the web. So why Why WHY can’t I upload one?

  • eins78

    “there is an app for that” 🙂
    i am using the app “iStorage” for these cases. it lets you import photos and other files and also has a built-in browser which lets you use that greyed out button.
    on the other hand, your proposal certainly makes sense and this particular app wouldn’t really solve the problem you described since not everyone filling out your form wants to buy that app.

  • Thanks for the pointer. Nope it doesn’t really solve my problem. It is solvable once you create an app. However, that adds to complexity when something simpler would just enable us to get things done.

  • Pingback: Dear Apple, Why I want a Bluetooth mic enabled for video on my iPhone 4s. | Stuart Henshall()

  • Big Cat

    Yes, this is a stupid decision. There is a point of view that this function is disabled because the iOS is a “closed” system that doesn’t has a traditional “file system” so there is no “file list” to choose a file from. But there is another “closed” system that has the similar file system ideology. This system is Windows Phone 7. In this system, the Choose File button in the browser works. It just brings up the photos list. You cannot choose any other types of files but it works fine with photos. Why Apple cannot do the same?

  • The Ghost of Steve Jobs

    It’s simple. I still want your money – it’s the Apple way. I want you to develop for iOS. Developer membership is only $100 a year – a phenomenal bargain for such a magic operating system. You’ll need Xcode to do that – it only runs on the insanely great MacOS X. We offer the Mac Mini to get you started for only $599 without a keyboard or monitor (use another $200 to buy your own)!! Sure, Apple supports open Web standards, but if the company let you upload data in a Safari browser Web form, we couldn’t suck $1000 out of your pocket. Please let me rest in peace now, and get over it!

  • Marco

    In my opinion the answer to that is quite clear: let’s say you have a web-based application which has no need to interact with the iPhone/iPad hardware (i.e. camera), would you really invest a lot of money, time and human resources in creating a dedicated app for iOS if that wasn’t absolutely needed? I think you wouldn’t. So they disabled such a vital feature for any decent browser, to make more pressure on you to create an app for your website.
    In other words, if you don’t have a really simple and basic website, you surely allow your visitors to upload something, so you need an app. And, to develop an app, you need to: buy a Mac, learn their otherwise-not-useful C# language, create a $99/year account on the App Store, give them the 30% of every payment you get from your app. It’s a money-first policy.

  • As announced yesterday, Safari upload is coming in iOS6.. woo hoo!

    Expected by Autum 2012.

  • Rob

    It never was a “restriction”. It was just not yet implemented as a feature. It will take a long time for mobile OS’s to support everything that desktops do. Calling it a “restrictive policy” is looking for a conspiracy where there is none.

  • Fly

    It totally sucks I just got this thing 2 days ago. Even my blackberry could do this simple option. Now I’ll have to use my husbands brand new android instead. Thanks a lot apple.

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