The FRAMEN software suite for digital photo frames, televisions and mobile devices

By May 8, 2019 May 19, 2019 Buyer's Guide

The com­pa­ny FRAMEN is not just a man­u­fac­tur­er of dig­i­tal pic­ture frames. I would even argue that the real val­ue that the team has cre­at­ed is more on the soft­ware side. The ver­sa­tile FRAMEN Pho­to and Play soft­ware is some­thing to write home about.

Long is the road to version 1.0

Soft­ware always takes longer than expect­ed said Dim­itri Gärt­ner when I vis­it­ed the FRAMEN office. And that was sure­ly the case when they start­ed out cre­at­ing the apps for man­ag­ing pho­tos and con­trol­ling the dig­i­tal pic­ture frames. With total ded­i­ca­tion, it took the devel­op­ment team over a year to com­plete.

The objec­tive was to keep the app as sim­ple as pos­si­ble. Allow the upload of own pho­tos as well as access to third-par­ty image libraries and have total con­trol over all con­nect­ed pho­to frames.

The out­come is amaz­ing. To my knowl­edge, it is the only dig­i­tal pic­ture frame app that includes their own brand of pho­to frames, tele­vi­sions, mobile devices, and any brows­er-based hard­ware.

The app is swift, and the design is very intu­itive.

If you don't like using apps on your mobile phone, you alter­na­tive­ly get total con­trol through your desk­top brows­er. This is a sig­nif­i­cant fea­ture as man­ag­ing a large num­ber of images is prob­a­bly more com­fort­able on a com­put­er than on a mobile device.

The FRAMEN software suite May 2019

The FRAMEN soft­ware suite is for one made up of the FRAMEN Pho­to App for iOS and Android. It can be down­loaded for free from the App Store and Google Play.

FRAMEN Pho­to enables you to man­age your images in playlists, con­trol your image play­back devices (e.g., pic­ture frames or tablets), and choose from many curat­ed libraries of great stock images in over one hun­dred thou­sand cat­e­gories.

The sec­ond app is FRAMEN Play, also avail­able for free for iOS and Android.

FRAMEN Play trans­forms every mobile device into a dig­i­tal pic­ture frame which can be con­trolled either from anoth­er mobile device or through a desk­top brows­er. This allows you, for exam­ple, to trans­form an old iPad into a main­te­nance-free pho­to frame for your par­ents.

Instead of an app for desk­top com­put­ers, you can access your image library and frame con­trol by using a brows­er and typ­ing app.framen.io.

And with https://framen.tv you can turn any desk­top or lap­top com­put­er, no mat­ter if it runs on macOS, Win­dows or Lin­ux into a dig­i­tal pic­ture frame, just like it works with the FRAMEN Play app for mobile devices.

The under­ly­ing log­ic of the FRAMEN soft­ware is an Ama­zon cloud-based stor­age of your images. From there they can be streamed to any of your con­nect­ed devices.

This means that only images on your cur­rent playlist are being stored local­ly on your pic­ture frame.

All your image play­back devices like your tele­vi­sion or pho­to frame can be con­trolled through one app, and all changes are effec­tive imme­di­ate­ly on all devices. Every device can be con­trolled indi­vid­u­al­ly.

You do not have to own a FRAMEN pic­ture frame to use the FRAMEN soft­ware. The sys­tem has been designed to work on as many devices as pos­si­ble regard­less of the oper­at­ing sys­tem and the man­u­fac­tur­er. All that is required is brows­er access.

In a world where every man­u­fac­tur­er has its own half-baked and bug-rid­den soft­ware, this is an awe-inspir­ing feat.

I believe that the keen focus on soft­ware is a sign that FRAMEN does have a vision beyond the pure hard­ware side of the dig­i­tal pic­ture frame uni­verse.

The functional scope of the FRAMEN Photo App

The app inter­face is noth­ing that will take you a long time to under­stand. The same is true for the brows­er inter­face.

When you start the app, you need to reg­is­ter a (free) account first.

Once you are in, you will see five icons at the bot­tom of the screen.

The Home icon will give you access to curat­ed playlists with stock images sort­ed by cat­e­go­ry. There are one hun­dred thou­sand cat­e­gories, but they only con­tain 10 to 20 images. This is expect­ed to grow, but it's okay for a start.

The mag­ni­fy­ing glass icon is brows­ing the curat­ed playlists.

The plus sign in the mid­dle gives you access to the cam­era roll on your smart­phone so that you can add them con­ve­nient­ly to your playlists.

By tap­ping the plus sign in the mon­i­tor, you con­trol your con­nect­ed image play­back devices. You scan the QR code on a mon­i­tor and you are con­nect­ed. Alter­na­tive­ly, you can enter a code. This way you can con­nect to a device even when it is installed remote­ly.

In the pro­file view, you can view and edit your playlists as well as launch a new playlist on one of your mon­i­tors.

You'll be up and run­ning in two min­utes.

A free account lets you con­nect ten image play­ers, and you can upload up to 1,000 pho­tos (2 GB).

With the FRAMEN Play App, you can use every iOS/Android mobile device as a pic­ture frame. This means you can either con­trol oth­er pho­to frames with your mobile phone or become one your­self.

This is genius. All you have to do is scan the QR code in FRAMEN Play, and off you go.

Solid as a rock

What struck me, in par­tic­u­lar, was the sta­ble con­nec­tion. You can pow­er off or sleep any imag­ing device, and once it is on again or con­nect­ed to the inter­net, it will resume imme­di­ate­ly where you last were.

This means that you can use an iPad as your pho­to frame, take it off the stand and do some email. When you're done, you call up the FRAMEN Play app again and put it back on the stand. It will con­tin­ue exact­ly where you left it.

You get the same behav­ior when your iPad enters the sleep mode. You wake it up again, and the pho­to show will con­tin­ue.

The same is true if you use a brows­er, e.g. on your desk­top com­put­er. Even after a reboot play­back con­tin­ues if you call up the brows­er address https://framen.tv.

You can see which image play­ers are online and even the pho­to which is cur­rent­ly shown. This gives you per­fect con­trol over all your pic­ture frame wher­ev­er they are.

A small wishlist for version 2.0

If I had three wish­es for the next ver­sion of the FRAMEN Pho­to soft­ware, this is what I would put for­ward:

The first one con­cerns image tran­si­tions. Cur­rent­ly, they are fixed to "fade to black" on the FRAMEN Play­er pic­ture and "hard cut" to any oth­er hard­ware like tele­vi­sions, Com­put­ers and mobile devices.

If you read my post "How I added cross­fad­ing slide tran­si­tions to my dig­i­tal pic­ture frame using Pi3D" you will know of my pas­sion for slow cross­fades. It would be most delight­ful if FRAMEN Play­er would allow con­fig­ur­ing this type of image tran­si­tion.

Num­ber Two is the selec­tion of playlists. In the cur­rent release, only one playlist can be select­ed at a time. Ver­sion 2.0 should allow mul­ti­ple selec­tions.

Although I like the idea of playlists, I pre­fer to get a ran­dom selec­tion from our 1000+ pho­to pool dur­ing an aver­age week.

My final wish also relates to playlists. Intro­duc­ing a Shuf­fle Play func­tion would increase the sus­pense of which pho­to will show up next.

Conclusion

The func­tion­al­i­ty, design, and per­for­mance of the FRAMEN pic­ture frame soft­ware is most impres­sive, pri­mar­i­ly because it works on so many dif­fer­ent image play­er devices.

I have seen noth­ing which comes even close from the likes of Sam­sung, Memen­to or Meur­al.

With this suite of soft­ware apps, FRAMEN has cre­at­ed a stan­dard for a cross-man­u­fac­tur­er pic­ture frame man­age­ment and con­trol soft­ware.

Cur­rent­ly, you can still down­load the FRAMEN Apps for free, but even if or when FRAMEN should decide to charge a fee, it will be worth it.

As I said before writ­ing and design­ing soft­ware is an art. And the com­pa­nies who are good at hard­ware, do not nec­es­sar­i­ly excel at soft­ware.

It makes lit­tle sense for every man­u­fac­tur­er of dig­i­tal pic­ture frames to write their soft­ware. They would be well advised to talk to FRAMEN and get a license.

This, in turn, would also increase the eco­nom­ics of a "Spo­ti­fy for images" plat­form, which would ben­e­fit the entire indus­try.

(Photos: Copyright Framen GmbH)