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Flickr updates: See what's new

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This photo was taken with the latest Flickr app. The new "Mammoth" filter was added.

Not to be left out of the wave of recent photo app updates, Flickr has released a new version of its iOS app (and also revamped its web interface). The photo sharing service, founded in 2004, is a popular website for professional photographers and enthusiasts. But it's struggled to remain relevant as Instagram and other social photo sharing services have reshaped the way we share images. Yahoo’s apparent inattentive attitude toward Flickr (the app hadn't seen an update in nearly a full year) has further pushed users on to fresher options like 500px

 For photographers who prefer their photos unfiltered, Flickr lets users turn off the new filters feature.

During the smartphone revolution, many of Flickr’s devoted users were turned off by its clunky photo app. Ratings for Flickr’s iOS app hovered around three stars in the Apple App Store. Earlier this year, Flickr users begged the new Yahoo CEO to “make Flickr awesome again." 

This latest update is seen by many as Flickr’s saving grace. Some even claimed that it blew Twitter, Facebook and Instagram out of the water. One user summed up Flicker fans' excitement in a review on the App Store: “Now it finally feels like FLICKR!”

Lovers of the site will continue to use Flickr for its community of photographers and public storage for their online portfolios; but will this app update be enough to attract new users, or will Flickr go the way of MySpace?

App re-take

As with any photography app, the actual camera capabilities are worth reviewing first. When you open up the capture screen on the updated Flickr app, you are greeted with basic camera features—flash, composition grids and tap-to-focus. A two-finger touch on the screen will reveal a circle and a square—the square will choose your focal point and the circle will pick your exposure. The addition of manual exposure sets the Flickr app apart from the native iOS camera app, but many other photography apps also offer this feature.

I used Flickr's Blemish too to smooth out some of the wrinkles on my husband's face before adding the super filmy Wallaby filter.

While the capture aspect is solid, the new Flickr really soars in its editing and filter options. The Aviary-powered editing tools let you adjust brightness, contrast and even hide blemishes. After you are done performing basic edits, you can choose from one of 16 different filters (all named after animals). Flickr’s filters are more intense than its direct competitors. In a delicate composition, they can totally blow out details or harsh out shadows, but they are a welcome change to the same light sepia washes you see in nearly every similar app's filter palette. If you are a staunch anti-filter purist, you can turn of the filter option entirely in the app’s settings menu.

Sharing

Flickr lies in a middle ground between a photography-only portfolio site, anonymous forum and social network. It has a strong online community of photography enthusiasts that often go by aliases, but it also functions as a forum for professionals to offer each other support and criticism. Though a wonderful photo sharing tool, Flickr is not exactly a social network as others have become.

Photos shared from Flickr to Twitter will open within the Twitter window instead of creating a new tab.

Since Instagram cut off ties with Twitter and Twitter updated its photo features to lure Insta-Tweeters, Flickr has emerged as a photo-sharing Switzerland in the tech wars. Flicker users can still share photos on Twitter to be viewed within a tweet instead of opening in a new page, its Facebook integration remains strong and users can also upload photos to their Tumblr page or send them via email.

To make Flickr's own social networking easier, a tab lets you view your contacts' photos. This new feature showcases your contacts individually with thumbnails of their most recent images. This page is also where you will find the groups tab to check out what people are posting in the photo communities you are a part of.

Navigation

Along with the new filters, Flickr has revamped their profile navigation. In profile browsing, the “faves” star sits next to the comment bubble at the bottom of the photo. If you turn your phone to landscape mode, you can enter a slideshow of any photo stream.  When viewing photos, you can now zoom all the way in to pixel level while having the photo remain sharp the entire time.

Yahoo developed the new Flickr app to be "easier to use and more beautiful."

Flickr has started to make better use of its location feature by placing photos on a world map for browsing. The app features a “Nearby” browsing option next to Flickr’s famed “Interesting” browser. The Nearby feature displays what the algorithm thinks are the best photos uploaded near your current location.

Flickr has also revamped its web navigation.

Android and Windows

While both Android and Windows Phone 8 do have a Flickr app, they don’t have the same fully updated version as iOS. You can find similar photo filters in the Android version (updated earlier this month). The filters on the Android version are named after places instead of animals and have a more distinct generated vignette than the more organic film-mimicking iOS filters.

Flickr for Android, last updated on December 4th, features filters but lacks the manual capture controls and extensive Aviary editing features of the iOS version.

First thoughts

A step in the right direction: The new Flickr app is easy to use and very pleasing to look at. All filters aside, the manual focus and exposure features combined with Aviary's simple-yet-comprehensive editing tools make this free app a must-try for mobile photographers. By utilizing these features while providing better navigation for its extensive online community, Flickr will not be fading into cyber obscurity just yet.

What we're looking for next:

  • Auto-save all captured photos. The Flickr capture interface is great but it will not save a photo unless it is first uploaded to Flickr. 
  • White balance control and focus/exposure locks for more thoughtful compositions.
  • Filters for a purpose. Sure, the film filters are super cool, but it would be nice to have filters that cater to more practical photographers—maybe a special filter for florescent lighting, or a levels controller.
  • What's on your Flickr wishlist? Let's hear from you.

Comments

Total comments: 7
Doug Pardee
By Doug Pardee (Dec 16, 2012)

Don't know about the iPhone version, but the Android version is quite underwhelming. Any talk about the Flickr app surpassing the competition sure isn't about the Android version. It can't even upload a photo you've already taken. What's up with that?

And regardless of platform: Flickr charges you to store and display your photos, while the competition doesn't.

0 upvotes
Oliver Lang
By Oliver Lang (Dec 20, 2012)

As we've seen in recent days, paying for online photo storage and services is not such a bad thing after all.

1 upvote
Louis Dallara
By Louis Dallara (Dec 15, 2012)

The android app is lame, why work on iOS that does have the greatest market.

0 upvotes
Oliver Lang
By Oliver Lang (Dec 20, 2012)

As with many apps, iOS is used as proving ground before the effort is made on the Android app. Android devices vary significantly more than iOS devices, and thus the software development requires greater time to ensure that the final product is suitable (much more testing etc).

According to the Dev I've spoken to on Twitter, the Android version will be released.

0 upvotes
Tan68
By Tan68 (Dec 15, 2012)

oops

Comment edited 47 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
Tan68
By Tan68 (Dec 15, 2012)

Yes, if you found this through the list of Connect articles on the DPR site, you must click the link at the top of this article to get back to the DPR article with more information on the updates to the Flickr website. The DPR article itself is listed on the DPR site under 'Latest News'.

So, it is a little confusing for me, too. Did get me to click through to Connect, though... Then click back.

0 upvotes
sean lancaster
By sean lancaster (Dec 14, 2012)

Well, this is titled pretty badly. I expected to learn more about Flickr . . . the site I only use on my computer with my RX1 for my photography. This is all about phone apps for snapshots. Sigh.

Comment edited 2 minutes after posting
2 upvotes
Total comments: 7
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