This is the first of three blog posts this week about Flickr. Today’s is about Flickr’s new iPhone app.
A week ago Flickr unveiled a brand new version of its iPhone app. It’s the first update in almost a year, and has seen the app re-written from the ground up – which is no bad thing as the previous version was rather lacklustre.
The new app takes a lot of cues from Instagram, with a home screen that shows your contacts’ photos (either grouped by day, as shown in the screenshot, or by contact, allowing you to swipe across to see more images). The second tab is for Flickr’s ‘Explore‘ feature, showing new photos that are deemed ‘interesting’ (lots of favourites and comments) and also pictures that have been taken close to your current location.
The third tab, highlighted in blue to make it stand out, takes pictures – more on that later.
The fourth tab is your profile, allowing easy access to your photostream, sets, contacts, groups, favourites and pictures of you, as well as the activity pane that appears when you log into the Flickr web site showing new comments and favourites of your photos. The new app now supports push notifications so you’ll be notified of these as well.
Finally the fifth tab allows you to access search, review your settings and also find people using your Facebook, Twitter, Google or Yahoo! accounts, or by uploading a copy of your address book. I found at least 30 more contacts using this.
For taking pictures, the app offers everything that the built-in camera app provides – zoom, flash settings, gridlines, use of either the front or rear cameras, tap to set focus and exposure and the option to use an image from your image library. It’s not quite as fully-featured as Camera+ in that regard but not far off.
Like many photo apps these days, the app will let you select various image filters to apply to your photos – all named after animals. I don’t think they’re quite as good as Instagram’s filters but it’s a nice feature to have. What sets Flickr apart from similar apps, however, is that the app includes Aviary so that you can edit the image after uploading. This goes beyond the basic cropping and brightness/contrast settings – images can be rotated by any angle (not just 90 degrees) and you can also draw on images and add text. There’s also several one-tap enhancement modes.
Then it’s time to upload your image. Photographs can have both a title and description, and whilst Flickr will upload the location of the picture you can also attach it to a Foursquare venue if you wish. You can also add the photo to an existing set, or create a new one, and add it to a group, or tag a person in it. And you can add tags, or select whether the image is public or private. Finally, images can be shared on Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr as part of the upload process, or sent by email.
Flickr has added a huge amount of functionality in this update and the app now offers near feature-parity with the web site. It’s very welcome, and whilst I wish Flickr had released this app three years ago it’s better late than never. My only gripes are the really small text on the advanced upload settings page, and some issues setting up Facebook sharing – images do eventually show up on Facebook but not straightaway. It’s also not yet designed for the iPad, and a similar app for Android is still in the works. But it’s a solid update and a must for any Flickr user. It’s a free download from iTunes.