The Age of Walled Gardens

Snapchat’s addition of Memories is ushering in a new wave of walled gardens.

Now not even our photos are safe. Memories takes control of your photos and tucks them away into Snapchat’s walled garden. In order to store the photos from Snapchat in your phone’s default Photos app you have to go through various menus. It’s fairly well hidden and it breaks the sacred 3 tap rule of UI design.

I’m not entirely opposed to walled gardens. I love MacOS and iOS, the features Apple is able to add from their walled garden far outweighs the limits of being in a restrictive ecosystem. Things like the App Store and Handoff add a lot of value.

But what value does Memories add? The Spectacles are a unique product, they allow for quick and unobstructive video recording. That’s Snapchat’s main value, they are a “camera company” , with they’re main value being the frictionless sharing that Snapchat allows. Spectacles further this idea, but how useful is it if the video they record lives entirely in the Snapchat app?

This new age of walled gardens scares me. What happens if a service goes under? Your data is gone with the wind. Even something as simple as switching to a new service can be tricky. I stopped using Evernote but it’s too much work to get my notes out of there (Evernote uses a proprietary html format) so I keep the app installed for when I need to look at old notes. If everything is in it’s own walled garden, then eventually our data will start to be held hostage by these services.

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