Photosharing site Flickr recently unveiled a comprehensive redesign. We asked Razorfish International ECD (and keen photographer of his family) Nick Turner to take a look at the new site and mobile app
Since my children were born, I've taken 33,000 photos of them. So you could say I like taking photos. With this in mind, I decided to move away from iPhoto and iCloud sharing and give Flickr's new service a go. Would it stand-up to the ease and convenience of iPhoto? Here are my thoughts...
The site is faster than the old version, and the design is clean and elegant (if a little uninspired). The Content Stream approach on the homepage (above) is heavily influenced by Instagram's default view. I was surprised that Flickr didn't do something more original, and that the homepage isn't responsive. Maybe they're doing an iterative release?
The new Uploadr app (above) makes it easier to upload photos you've stored on your computer and hard drives. The updated mobile Flickr app can be synced to your phone's camera roll and will upload images automatically (a feature called Auto-Uploadr). This is a clear signal that Flickr wants you to use it to backup all your photos.
The ‘Camera Roll' feature is smart and well executed-it can organise large sets of photos (something that Flickr used to be awful at). The downside was that it took a while to figure it out - maybe I wouldn't have bothered if I wasn't writing this.
A very real (and annoying) problem with having such a large number of photographs is trying to find a photo if you can't remember when you took it. This is where the new feature Magic View (above) shows its strength. Magic View uses image recognition to sort photos into different categories (architecture, food, style etc), making it easier to find what you're looking for. It makes quite a functional experience more interesting, and I think it can be built upon (because it doesn't work on every image). It's a shame Magic View isn't available on the mobile app.
With Flickr, I found it very easy to multi-select photos for bulk editing. On mobile it's done with one continuous gesture. However, you can't move photos between albums, which means you have to remember which photos you added to which albums and delete any duplication.
The Flickr mobile app has a camera, although I'm not sure why I'd use this over my native camera app. The in-camera filters are close to useless, and I think they're missing a trick by not including the ability to ‘tiltshift'. But I do like the editing tools-‘Levels' is a particularly good one.
I found the app's tone of voice patronising. When I edited my profile picture, it said, "Wow, lookin' good', and when I took a photo it asked me for the title of ‘my masterpiece'.
For the more-than-amateur photographer, metadata from the camera settings is a nice touch. The app also allows you to shoot, edit, and upload high-definition videos of up to 30 seconds, which is one-up on iCloud.
So after using the new Flickr service for a week, I'm still using my phone's camera app, I'm still using Instagram to make my camera-phone photos look cool, and I'm still sharing my kids' lives with grandparents via iCloud. However, I'm using Flickr to back-up all my photos in the cloud at no cost (at the moment?); 16,778 uploaded and counting.
Overall, Flickr has managed to create a tighter ecosystem while keeping the same look and feel. On the downside, there aren't many surprises-it has modernised its platform and borrowed a few features from its competitors.
Flickr may become invaluable when I'm looking for a long lost photo, or if the in-camera app is updated with some amazing filters, but for now it's just a great place to store my photos.
Nick Turner is International Executive Creative Director at marketing, experience and enterprise design agency Razorfish
Images: Flickr/Shaun Forouzandeh and CR