The New Flickr

Wow. Flickr has come blazing back on the scene with a huge update to their iPhone app. And what an update it is.

Since getting the E-PL5, I’ve been using Flickr quite a bit more. I’ve long had the Flickr iPhone app and the past version was less than okay, and certainly nothing to write home about. Not to mention it was slow — loading images, recent activity, or just about anything took ages.

But the new app. Well, it’s incredible. It’s significantly faster and quite a bit more fun than the previous Flickr app. And that’s the understatement of the hour.

As someone who has been a paying Flickr Pro user for several years, I am ecstatic to see that someone over at Yahoo is taking Flickr seriously. I hope this new iPhone app is a sign of things to come and that the future holds significant updates to the website, iPad, and Android. And I hope the updates will beget an increase in regular activity, because I’d love to see Flickr rise to relevancy again.

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With today’s new app, Flickr has proven they are taking themselves seriously, and that they aren’t going to continue to ignore mobile:

  • Though it yoinks a lot of cues from Instagram, the new app is great as a one-stop app / network for shooting, editing, and uploading images.
  • What I think is the best feature of the new app is just how easy it is to browse contacts’ photos and discover new photographers. Flickr already has a healthy community of professional photographers who upload their work, but the discoverability of that work is pathetic. I quipped a few days ago that putting my images on Flickr felt like putting them on a ghost town. Though I’m highly active on Flickr, the interactivity with the photos I’m posting is nothing when compared to Instagram.
  • Mobile views of your images now count towards total views.

The emphasis on mobile-friendly discoverability and interaction is great. Flickr needed this type of iPhone experience in 2007. What’s interesting is the app’s massive focus on taking and uploading iPhone photos.

Dave Chartier posted:

I felt a great disturbance in the Force, as if millions of pro photographers cried out in terror as millions of filtered photos overrun one of their last bastions of community.

Flickr’s legacy reputation is as a social network and portfolio site for enthusiast and professional photographers. But the iPhone has been the most popular camera on Flickr for quite a while. It’s silly to ignore the iPhone, but just because it’s the most prolific camera on Flickr, doesn’t mean it represents Flickr’s best users.

It will be interesting to see if Flickr differentiates between “pro” photo uploads and “on-the-go” iPhone camera uploads. But can they? Who’s to say iPhone photos are a lesser version of photography? There are photographers who take far better photos with their iPhones than some folks do with their 5D. An expensive camera and a copy of Lightroom do not a good photographer make.

Maybe this is their first step in reinventing themselves for the mobile age. Perhaps their game plan is simply to do all they can to get as many people using the service as possible. I say let the users chose who to follow and what to post, and let Flickr focus on empowering us to discover, follow, favorite, and shoot as much as possible.

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