Your Guide To The New Flickr App
It would seem that Christmas has come early for Yahoo. Not only is its (well overdue) relaunched Flickr iPhone app receiving some pretty good reviews, but its timing could not have been better. Due to Instagram’s updated terms of service, effectively informing all their users that Instagram now owns all their images and can do whatever they want with them, people are beginning to migrate away from the service amid fears of data control and loss of their own IP. Even celebrities are leading the way, urging their fans to boycott the app and making it perfect for Yahoo to enter the fray.
Instagram’s extensive terms – which read very much like Facebook’s – state that in no uncertain terms just what you’re handing over when you sign up for its service. Though these have been slightly revised since, along with a clarifying statement from Instagram, its intentions with your data are still fairly wide-reaching. More importantly, how does Flickr’s app fare against Instagram’s?
The App Experience
The Flickr app no doubt offers a fairly impressive user experience, although there are some parts that are a little clunky and don’t lend themselves to an intuitive mobile experience. Having to re-enter all my details and use a lengthy captcha code when I initially got my password wrong was a bit frustrating. But when I got past this, I was greeted with a set of photos I had uploaded to Flickr and completely forgotten about. As it syncs with both your existing Yahoo! ID and new accounts, all your existing images are pulled into the app automatically.
As soon as you start using the app, it’s clear that this is built more for photographers than being a pure play social network. This isn’t just down to Flickr’s legacy as one of the original photo sharing sites, but the whole feel of the app feels more centered towards photography than being just about instantaneous snapshots of your daily life. The level of photography certainly adds to this. It is clearly the home of the pros as you can view any photos on Flickr, not just those taken on a mobile. The photography is, quite simply, stunning:
Yahoo has clearly thought about discovery here. While you can view photos that are interesting or trending, you can also view photos of your nearby location. So if you’re in London, you can see photos of London itself (not photos simply taken within London). These can be viewed either by most recent or most popular:
But perhaps one of the best features of the app experience is its integration with Twitter. While Instagram recently revoked access to Twitter to display photos within the feed, if you post an Instagram photo to Twitter, you can view it in the feed by expanding the tweet:
Add to that some other nice features such as viewing images in gallery mode and you have an app that is clearly built around photography first and mobile second, a reversal of Instagram’s approach. But what Flickr has done more successfully than Facebook, for example, is respond to the challenge to pivot to mobile through a bespoke app offering that actually works.
The Best Bits
There are some features within the Flickr app that are worth looking into further, to help you get the most out of it.
When you upload photos into Flickr, you have the option to tag you and your friends in pictures. You can then view photos of yourself specifically, which is accessible directly from your profile page:
Within the app, you can get a summary of top line stats for your images, showing you quickly how many views, comments or ‘Favourites’ your photos got, which isn’t available within Instagram (you need to scroll through each image to see this). This is accessible by clicking into Photostream from your profile page. You can also click into an individual image to see advanced stats such as the device an image was taken on, which again nods to the more hardcore photographer community. You can do this by clicking the ‘info’ icon within a particular image.
If you’re new to Flickr and haven’t imported contacts into the app, discovering new people to follow and groups in the app is pretty easy. When you click into an image you like, you can see associated information with the creator such as sets and groups the photo belongs to. You can then join these in just one touch, immediately providing you with an enhanced app experience:
There are some parts of the app that pale in comparison to Instagram, such as not being able to take a photo with the preview filter on; you can only add it once you’ve taken the photo. While the Flickr experience should by no means replicate Instagram’s, this is a feature I feel is lacking.
Considering that Yahoo was built around search, you would hope that it would get this right. While the app does give you advanced search options such as the ability to search all photos, photos from your contacts or within your own stream, the results returned aren’t quite up to scratch. Clicking into one of the top images returned for the search ‘London Bridge,’ I found that it was uploaded eight years ago. While this may well be the most relevant by popularity (though no indication is given into how search results are filtered), you would expect that given the instantaneous nature of a mobile app, you would have the option to search by most recent.
So, negatives aside, this is a genuinely good offering from Flickr which, aided by a bit of good timing with Instagram’s fallout, could really stand to own this market. While the app does have a lot of advanced features that many users might not take advantage of (I can’t *really* see myself sorting photos into sets), the app offers you a simple ‘snap and share’ functionality if that’s all you want with many advanced features if you take your photography more seriously. So if you fancy a good social experience that isn’t owned by Facebook, you might want to give this a spin.