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Microsoft Xim turns iOS, Android, and Windows phones into a multi-screen slideshow

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Straight from the research labs

Microsoft's many research teams dream up fantastic concepts on a regular basis, but what you rarely see is an end product direct from the research labs. Microsoft Xim is launching today, built by Microsoft Research's FUSE labs as an app to simplify mobile photo sharing. Xim is Microsoft's take on quick Snapchat-like photo sharing without the hassle. What's unique and unusual about Xim is, unlike Snapchat, not everyone who receives a Xim needs the app to view photos. Microsoft is creating non-permanent cloud-based Xims that are viewable in a browser and are sychronized across all users that are invited to a particular Xim.

Available on iOS, Android, and Windows Phone

All content in a Xim "expires after a little while" says Microsoft, and a Xim creator can use an Android, iOS, or Windows Phone app to add photos from a device, OneDrive, Dropbox, Facebook, or Instagram. Once up to 50 photos are selected, a Xim is created and it's easy to add friends via their mobile number or email address. There's a group chat feature, and participants with the app can add additional photos or swipe and pan through images. Xim is positioned as an app to avoid having to pass your phone to friends to view photos in person, but it seems unlikely that an app can replace the simple experience of sitting next to a friend and flicking through photos from a recent vacation or trip.

Microsoft believes Xim will help avoid over sharing personal photos in this type of situation, or even prevent friends huddling around one phone. It's a nice idea, but using Xim as a slideshow app for groups of friends seems like a more realistic way this app could be used. There are also lots of methods to share photos with friends these days, so it's difficult to see how Xim can break through against Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and even messaging apps like WhatsApp and Line. Despite the challenges, Microsoft is launching Xim across iOS, Android, and Windows Phone app stores later today.