iPad as Digital Photoframe – Digitaler Bilderrahmen

I was looking for a way to give my grandparents a digital photoframe. All the available photoframes i’ve seen had drawbacks, were expensive or must use an external cloud provider. What i was looking for was simple photoframe App that could run on an old iPad 2 and just displays pictures. Also it must be as easy as possible for my grandparents to use the galery as they are very old. Further i wanted my family to be able to send pictures to the photoframe.

The first approach with the iCloud galery had the drawback that i need to explain how to start the galery app and the slideshow. This didn’t work out for me. I’ve downloaded 1-2 apps but even the paid versions of them did not satisfied my needs. Thus i’ve decided to do this by myself and start googling.

If this sounds interesting for you, you need the following:

  • A Tablet / iPad
  • Webspace (maybe with Cronjob functionality)
  • A dedicated Mail Address

TL;DR

Add Pictures via Email to a Dropbox folder and display those images in a Slideshow in a browser with nearly 0 interaction. Runs on any Tablet / iPad and can act as a Digital Photoframe.

Details

The starting point of my work is the Unicorn Library from Mathias Endler.

This is a very simple galery that can displays from a Dropbox Folder. It can utilize the „App“ folder of Dropbox and displays images from subfolders. It uses a pretty template engine and has the capability to rescan the Dropbox from time to time and caches the images locally. This was already something what i was looking for.

The Unicorn solves the problem, that it acccesses & caches the images from a Dropbox folder. Also I can use the browser to access the images in the Gallery.

So i’ve forked that repository and created a little import interface.

Import

With this import interface its possible to send emails to a dedicted address and store the attachments of an email to the Dropbox Folder. With this interface our family members can add pictures to the photoframe. Easy and straight forward. The only thing i need to give them is the target mail address.

The import is done via the mail2dropbox.php file. This file checks the inbox and extracts the attachments from every incoming mail. The attachment is than moved to the Dropbox folder. The picture orientation is checked as on iOS the images are flipped sometimes. Also this job  does the housekeeping and ensures that only a few images are contained in the gallery. The oldest images are archived.

This file should be executed in a Cronjob.

The import solves the problems of Adding Images to the Gallery and is doing the Housekeeping.

Display

Even if the Unicorn Library uses a nice templating my current approach is a bit more simple and ugly. I’ve just created a „image.php“ that scans the subfolder for images and displays the image. It doesn’t use templating but it does what its designed for.

The slideshow starts automatically. No need to click.

On the Tablet

Simply open the link  to your gallery in the browser on your tablet and store the link as icon on the home screen. Further just clean up your home screen to only display the single icon.