I Want to Print My Mobile Photos – A Windows Phone User’s Tale of Woe

Carrie Sylvester
May 14, 2014

Recently, I have been thinking about printing photos from my smartphone. I have a high-resolution camera phone with some advanced photo features and had taken some pictures that I thought came out particularly well and a few I applied some artsy filters to as well. I wanted to see if they looked as good off screen. As if somehow Snapfish read my mind, the service introduced a promotion to get people printing photos from its smartphone app. The mobile-only promotion offers 100 free prints a month (4 x 6-inch), for one year, for mail delivery only.

Being a Windows Phone user, I went to see if there was a Snapfish app in the Windows Phone store. A search for “Snapfish” resulted in “We couldn’t find a match.” Then I searched for Shutterfly, which found a “Shutterfly” app, which was not from the official Shutterfly but from an unknown developer instead. I even dug far back in my photo print memory and looked up “York Photo” – no match. I expanded the search to “print photos” and a long list of apps came up but only a handful of recognizable brand names — Walgreens and Kodak Pic Flick being two of them.

My digital photo collection is saved in not only one place, but in many, with my entire collection also saved to an external hard drive with one terabyte of storage. A sizeable portion of this collection is accessible through my smartphone either through Microsoft OneDrive, the phone’s Camera Roll or connecting to my Facebook app. What is glaringly missing is any way to print the pictures besides manually offloading them from the phone to the PC or a flash drive to make prints.

What’s a girl (photo enthusiast & Windows Phone user) to do? Thus began the search for a trustworthy, and more importantly free, Windows Phone photo print solution. Below are some of the apps that seemed like they would fit the bill.

OneDrive — Publisher: Microsoft — 6,188 ratings and 3,400 Facebook ‘Likes’ (Actual Facebook page shows 233,000 ‘Likes’) — Price: Free

OneDrive (formerly SkyDrive) is the Windows Cloud that allows for storing and sharing of photos and videos as well as documents. What’s nice about the app is that you can browse all OneDrive files or shared files, upload multiple files at the same time and share files through invites or a social network links. File organization features include the ability to move, delete, sort or rename files, as well as create new folders and access recently opened files. The downside is that there is NO photo printing option anywhere.

FreePrints — Publisher: PhotoAffections – 121 reviews and 64 Facebook ‘Likes’ (Actual Facebook page shows 18,381 ‘Likes’) — Price: Free

FreePrints is a free app download that offers 85 free 4×6 prints a month (maximum of 1,000/year — 1 free print per photo) for Windows Phone users. Users pay for shipping, which is estimated to be $1.99 but will not exceed $9.99 and other print sizes can be ordered for a per-print fee. Standard photo print sizes are available but there is also a 5×5 suitable for Instagram photos. What’s nice about the app is that you get free prints and reasonably priced shipping. The downside is that it requires credit card details to complete the order and no local pick-up options are available.

Kodak Pic Flick — Publisher: Eastman Kodak Co — 28 ratings

This app is free and provides smartphone access to photos for editing and printing but only to a Wi-Fi enabled Kodak printer. The downside is that it only works with a Kodak printer.

Walgreens — Publisher: Walgreens — 2,734 ratings and 182 Facebook ‘Likes’ (actual Facebook ‘Likes’ not found).

The retailer also has their own branded app to order prints for in-store pick up. The upload process through the Walgreens’ app was a little faster than the Printicular app (used Wi-Fi not cellular — see details below) but the user interface to order the prints and select a store location was exactly the same in both apps. The app was very quick and easy to use and Walgreens is a trusted brand. Couldn’t find any downsides to report.

Printicular — Publisher: MEA Mobile — 242 ratings and 213 Facebook ‘Likes’ (actual Facebook page shows 2,280 ‘Likes’)

This app facilitates mobile printing from Instagram, Facebook, or camera roll photos for pick up at a Walgreens store. Prints are available in 4×4, 4×6, 5×7, 8×8 or 8×10 and users can pay for prints at the store and not online. What’s nice about it is that a credit card is not required on the mobile app because payment is handled in-store. Other than it took a little longer to upload photos than it did using the Walgreens’ branded app, couldn’t find any downsides to report.

InfoTrends Opinion

Although iOS and Android phones outnumber Windows phones, that does not mean that Windows Phone users do not have wants and needs the same as the other OS users, especially when it comes to printing photos. The Windows app store shows a long list of photo print apps (both free and paid) but a scroll through the app developers list one does not reveal many tried and true recognizable names. This says there is an existing opportunity for one of the more trusted brands to develop their own Windows Phone app and capitalize on the photo print revenue potential.

Ideally a Windows Phone photo print app would allow for easy mobile photo print orders and should include an in store pick up as well as a mail delivery option. An in-store pickup will be preferred by people that are not comfortable providing sensitive credit card information through a mobile app. Users that are more comfortable with the mobile ecommerce process and have less hesitation about entering their credit card information will be just fine with the mail delivery option.

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