When Flickr released their new app amongst a fanfare of delighted tweets last week, I was, I admit, a little cynical. But the after a few days of usage, I’ll happily put my hands up and admit just how very wrong I was.
I didn’t, I admit, use Flickr to it’s full potential. Back in the day I would upload photos of various holidays or parties to the site, and emailed the url of the set to my compadres, and that was really it. Unfortunately, no-one in my social circles really used Flickr, and all (at the time) were all using Facebook.
I also used the service as nothing more that an online repository of my various photographic attempts; away from the frailties of my own hard-drives that had failed too many times in the past.
Other offline storage options emerged, and when the time came to renew my Pro membership… Well, let’s just say we parted company. In fact, I very nearly closed my account down entirely serveral times - but never quite got around to it.
Enter the Mobile Revolution; we’re all on phones now - taking instragraming, tweeting, whatsapping - everything we currently want to do, we can do from our phones.
The app capitalises on the amazing success of Instagram and their ilk, working on the axiom that the ‘best camera is the one you have with you’ - usually your iPhone - to capture those occasional moments that should be immortalised and shared amongst your friends. It has the vintage filters, should you need them, plus some additional editing tools, as well as the ability to easily follow your contacts as easily as in Twitter.
For me, what’s different this time is that the photos are being saved to a photo service. Not a Facebook timeline or a Tumblog or Twitter stream - a service for storing and keeping your random photos of coffee secure. They feel safer there in a site designed for them exclusively - alongside the photos I may choose to take and upload via my larger cameras, rather than lost amongst the status updated and animated Doctor Who gifs.
What really sold me though, was that the app takes the core service of Flickr, and then enhances it with the native app functionality of the camera and editor. This kind of progressive enhancement of a web app with native apps is exactly the sort of setup tht flies my flag. A smashing mobile-optimised web site as a baseline, with all the features available to non-iPhone viewers - with an additional layer of interactivity on the native app with the camera and editor. With the web site in place, the native app pivots incredibly well on the social/sharing side of the service, without excluding anyone who doesn’t have a particular type of smart phone.
All in all, the Flickr app is a wonderful layer of app-like beauty draped over an already excellent service that is at a stage in its lifetime where other services would simply have rolled over and died. Flickr has resurrected itself and in turn reinvigorated my love for the place - to the point where I’m most likely going to upgrade my service to Pro status again, no longer for me just a storage option, but somewhere where I can enjoy being part of a community just as much as I do on other sites.
I’m probably not going to be the only one either - I’m certain that there are plenty of people just like me that are going back to her, looking sheepish and trotting out a mumbled apology about asking to be let back in again - Instagram was a once-off mistake. We’ll not do it again…