Frameo solves a significant problem for (mostly) Asian manufacturers of touchscreen digital picture frames. While it’s easy to manufacture photo frames in Shenzhen at low cost as a side product of tablet production, writing good software is not.
This is where Frameo comes in. The company licenses their software as the operating system for any digital photo frame manufacturer.
I had come across Frameo when I reviewed the Feelcare photo frame and found the software quite appealing. However, at that time, I didn’t know that Frameo was an independent software company.
My tests are unbiased. There are no financial or material donations to be disclosed. Frameo has supplied me with a review unit for this test.
I talked to Kasper Borup Jensen, one of the founders of Frameo. He saw my review of the Feelcare photo frame that features the Frameo software and offered more background information.
I find their approach intriguing, and although they do not make any photo frames themselves, they provide the critical component for the everyday user experience and satisfaction.
Contrary to many well-known success stories, Frameo is not located in Silicon Valley but in Northern Europe, to be precise, in Aarhus in Denmark.
The company was founded in 2015 with a primary focus on designing and developing innovative software solutions. I would guess that photo frames was the first application they targeted.
It’s (still) a small company with what I found excellent programming and marketing know-how. They also understand how to work with Asian manufacturers and provide them with a full-service offer. 55 brands are already selling their digital frames with Frameo software installed. On the company’s partners website there is a detailed overview of the kind of services that they provide to their licensees.
The name “Frameo” can be used by the brand manufacturers on their packaging and promotional material, and Frameo provides an ample selection of suitable marketing collateral to make this easy and professional.
The Frameo Software
In my product reviews, I always found that there are undoubtedly great differences in the build quality and design of the frames. But the real differentiator was the quality of the frame software and the associated mobile app.
The software makes the difference between a frame that is a joy to use and updated frequently with new photos or something that is quickly parked indefinitely in a cupboard.
Frameo is to manufacturers of digital picture frames what Microsoft is to PC manufacturers.
Writing good software is hard, and why should every manufacturer of digital picture frames develop their own app? Instead, they can license the software from Frameo and benefit from the good reviews that the Frameo software has been getting.
Frameo is the third party operating system for digital picture frames.
I asked Kasper was whether the Frameo software is the same for every customer who buys a frame from a licensed manufacturer. Or is it more like Android, where there are no central updates, but it’s really up to each brand?
Kasper assured me that the software, both on the frame and your mobile phone, are be the same for every customer and that Frameo is providing updates for everyone to benefit from.
The other feature where Frameo is quite remarkable is that contrary to solutions like, e.g., Nixplay, the photos and videos are only stored locally on the photo frames even though you can send them to any frame connected frame in the world.
Many people have become distrustful of their documents’ ubiquitous cloud storage and do not want their private photos stored outside their home.
However, this makes it challenging to supply images to remote frames. Frameo has come up with a smart approach to have the benefits of a Cloud solution but not the drawbacks.
Communications between app and frame are end-to-end encrypted using Secure Device Grid, which is an IoT platform providing secure, private, and scalable connectivity to Smart Connected Products.
Kasper mentioned to me that in the future, Frameo might be looking for opportunities to offer the users the option to backup their photos and videos to a cloud-based service to make sure that all the special photos they have can easily be accessed later on – for example, if they get a new photo frame.
Highlights of the Frameo software
I reviewed the Frameo software in my article about the Feelcare photo frame, and you can read all about it there.
If I were to summarize the key points, I would mention:
- Shuffle mode (this should be normal, but there are several frames on the market where you cannot randomize the playback sequence)
- You can send images to any connected frame that runs on Frameo software without storing them in the Cloud. You can even mix brands.
- You can add captions to your photos. This is useful, especially when you send images to frames in other people’s homes like your parents and grand-parents.
- You can allow other people to send images to any Frameo photo frame. All they have to do is download the free mobile app.
- Video playback is possible
- You can import a batch of images via an SD-card slot
- You can backup all your images on an SD-card.
- Effortless overall set-up.
Where I believe there is some room for improvement:
- The transitions are limited to a simple “fade to black.” What I would like to see in a photo frame is a gentle crossfading of images. It is much less disturbing.
- The mobile app only allows the import of one photo at a time – until you figure out that doing a long tap on one of the images opens the possibility the selected up to ten images. Maybe I am just too dumb, but I didn’t see that until Kasper told me about the multi-select feature. Well, now, you know.
How does the Frameo compare to Nixplay?
My benchmark for digital picture frame software has always been Nixplay, the market leader in digital photo frames. So how does Frameo compare?
It’s not entirely a fair comparison because Nixplay sells both its own hardware and software (like Apple with the iPhone) and can therefore optimize both parts because they don’t have to consider other manufacturers.
Frameo has to respect the requirements of a wide range of different hardware combinations and needs to make sure that they all work with the Frameo software. This always leads to compromises and sometimes decisions that may not always be easy to understand.
On the features side, Nixplay is quite a bit more advanced and offers more options. But with Nixplay frames, your images are stored in the Cloud, a fact that not everybody will like.
Where Frameo really shines is the ease of use when you first set up the frame. It’s as easy as it gets. This should not be underestimated.
What Frameo has established as their business model makes a lot of sense for the industry as a whole.
The software has always been the weak point of what I used to call a bit disrespectfully “China Frames.”
But now that manufacturers can focus on the hardware assembly part and trust Frameo with the software, the overall quality of the digital picture frames may move up, and hence people’s satisfaction with the product category.
This, in turn, can lead to more demand and thus even more innovative solutions in the digital picture frame space.
A good thing.
(Photos: Frameo, Wolfgang Männel)