Mac users will sympathise with me here: you're working away on some photos you took earlier that day, nice mug of tea, Bowie playing in the background, when suddenly your phone starts ringing. Or the dog jumps on your lap. Or just absolutely anything that would cause you to absent-mindedly hit the pause button. And then--oh wait, no, no I didn't mean for that, oh damn...the screen fades away, your photos start whizzing past, and the musical legend has been replaced by some dude on a guitar hired to write the most monotonous piece known to man. This, my friends, is the slideshow.
My big problem with the slideshow isn't so much that it pops up when it doesn't need to. That's the kind of thing I could probably fix easily with a third party tool. No, my biggest gripe is that slideshows just don't work as a way of showing off photos. Back on my old phone you had to start a slideshow and manually pause it just to get the photo full screen. To this day I still can't understand why they didn't just include a full screen option instead of a slideshow. All that trouble of making a timer setting and all that, for what?
When you're showing photos off to people, the slideshow doesn't work for one key reason: the computer has no idea how interesting each photo is. It's a very rare situation where people will sit down and watch photos flying past without saying a word. Naturally, when people do have something to say, you have to pause the slideshow. And then the music stops. The whole experience is pretty jarring, and it's not even something people want a lot of the time. In my experience, they just use it to show their pictures bigger.
And then you've got the mobile slideshow. Now this, I feel, is something that just gets tacked on as a selling point. So now we've made another stupid assumption that people will huddle round a three-inch screen. Seriously, who is doing this? Watching a film on a small screen is awkward enough, but who is telling everyone to sit down and watch the slideshow on my tiny phone? It might have been cool the first time someone did it, but beyond showing off your new toy it's hard to pinpoint any time ever I've wanted a mobile slideshow.
In more recent times slideshow apps have begun to jazz things up a bit. They try to zoom and fade on interesting parts. The PS3 has a very nice slideshow app that casually throws the photos down on a virtual table. Apps like that, though, are kind of a throwback to the mobile slideshow. Sure, it looks fancy, but it's just taking the problems of physical photos and applying them to the virtual world. "Boy, I sure wish my photos were smaller and harder to focus on!" No. Nobody has ever said that. Trying to sell the photo throwdown as anything more than shiny play fun is a complete joke.
Coming to the end of this piece, you might be thinking that I want all slideshows to burn. I don't; it probably wouldn't affect me if they did. The point I'm trying to make here is that we assume it should come part-and-parcel with every photo app, when really it just isn't that useful. Slideshows will probably be here for years to come, and for years to come I'll still be here scratching my head over them. Maybe by then I'll have found a use for it beyond just "Hey look what my toy can do!". Or perhaps not. Just be thankful that this isn't part of a slideshow, else it would've faded off long before you'd finished reading it.