29 December 2012

Flickr’s new iPhone app is a huge improvement

A couple of weeks ago I saw an unusual surge of updates for my iPhone apps and among them one update that was long overdue: a new Flickr app! While I couldn’t care less about filters – if you shoot a photo with bad framing or out of focus you won’t be able to ‘fix’ it with a filter – the app has some great improvements. I won’t go through all of them – there are other, in-depth reviews for that – but simply highlight some of the things I enjoy about the app and some minor problems:

  • The app finally allows you to upload multiple photos at once, selecting them from the iPhone photo library, a huge improvement over the one-photo-per-upload rule that made the old version next to useless. You basically get the same privacy controls and tagging features as the web uploader, but I wish the app would auto-suggest existing tags from your Flickr photostream; typing them one by one for each upload is tedious and prone to errors. Also, photos uploaded from the app are automatically tagged with a couple of ‘machine tags’: one shows they originated from the app (uploaded:by=flickr_mobile) and another if the picture has filters or not (flickriosapp:filter=NoFilter). This should make for some interesting statistics about how people are using the mobile app.
  • You can also share uploaded photos to and , but that only seems to work if you upload a single photo, multiple photo uploads are just ignored from sharing. Also, the title and caption are not posted on Facebook along with the photo, making this alternative inferior to the native sharing in iOS. You get a link to the photo on Flickr though, which is probably better because it helps your friends discover your Flickr profile.
  • Speaking of uploading, I ran into some problem with the ‘Wi-Fi only’ toggle: even when I was on Wi-Fi, the app kept prompting me to turn wireless on and would only start uploading once I turned that option off.
  • The in-app camera allows you to set different measurement areas for focusing and exposure by tapping the screen with two fingers at once. The pink circle controls the focus and the blue square the image exposure. It’s an advanced feature that can save a photo if you take the time to adjust these controls before taking the shot, rather than trying to patch things up with a filter afterwards.
  • The friend discovery tool is quite nice and original, very suited for Flickr: you select a couple of photos you like and then Flickr suggests adding contacts with photos that match your tastes. It’s a great way to discover new photographers. I hope Flickr is considering also suggestions based on favorites, because they are likely to offer an even better picture of our tastes than just a selection of 6 shots.
  • New Flickr iPhone app: Contacts feed
  • New Flickr iPhone app: Interesting view
  • New Flickr iPhone app: Add photos to a set
  • New Flickr iPhone app: Upload queue
  • New Flickr iPhone app: people discovery

By the way, I think it’s high time for Flickr to replace ‘add contacts’ with ‘follow’; these are mostly unidirectional connections, not a closed, private network as on Facebook, but an interest-based network (maybe one of the oldest, if you think about it) where ‘following’ is pretty much the norm.

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