Smartphones have all but replaced a digital camera for most users, but easily sharing those snaps is still a problem. Creating online galleries, emailing photos, or even crowding around a tiny display are all less than ideal ways to share. So Microsoft's researchers created Xim, a surprisingly simple way to create temporary photo slideshows that can be shared across multiple devices at once.

The Xim app is available for Windows Phone, Android, and iOS devices, but it's only needed for actually creating a slideshow. A user can select and upload up to 50 photos from their phone's camera roll, and then send a link to the slideshow to anyone using their mobile number or email address. But the slideshow is actually viewed through a mobile browser, so having the Xim app installed isn't required for someone to participate.

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And enjoying the slideshow isn't just a passive affair where you watch images slowly scroll by. Any user participating in the Xim can swipe to the next or previous photo, or even pan and zoom, and everyone else sees their interactions in near real-time. Microsoft also claims the uploaded galleries—which can use photos from Facebook, Instagram, Dropbox, or the local device—are temporary, and expire after a short time. So your images aren't permanently held on some far-off server waiting for the next hack.

There's still a risk of someone sharing a link to private photos you don't want everyone seeing, but is it greater than the risk of sharing photos by handing your precious smartphone over to someone who clearly doesn't care about screen smudges or accidentally dropping it? [Get Xim via Microsoft Research via The Verge]