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Long before cloud storage was a thing, there was flickr, an online place to store and share photos. You'd go on vacation, take a bunch of snaps, then move them to your hard drive, then on to flickr.com. But more and more we take photos with our iOS devices, so what about those pictures? Can we marry iOS's mobility with flickr's storage and sharing?
You would hope that Yahoo! and flickr themselves would give you the best experience with their site, but the App Store (and jailbreakers) have proven time and again that third parties can see things institutions can't. Many flickr related apps appeared earlier because the official app didn't have batch uploading capabilities. Users instead had to upload photos one at a time.
Five Pictures Definitely Pushed flickr's Limits
This may or may not still be the case as we struggled with uploading through the flickr app. One or two pictures worked fine, but more gave the app trouble. Eventually we were able to make it work, but the app labored over the process.
We Spent Too Much Time Reading This
Use is simple enough after you've validated the app (you are redirected to Safari to log in through flickr.com and grant permission). Click on the camera icon in the upper right hand side, choose whether you're uploading a photo already on your iPhone or take one using the native camera.
If you wish to upload pictures that are already taken, flickr limits you to five at a time. To add difficulty, flickr doesn't open up your photo albums stored on your device. It loads thumbnails of the most recent 40 images on your camera roll. Want to see older pictures? You have to click the "Load 40 more" link at the bottom and scroll and load more until you find the photos you're after. Want a synced album? Good luck with that one.
Tap next and you're taken to the Details screen where you can edit the EXIF data (the camera-based metadata). flickr claims it retains all original photo EXIF data, but we found our batch uploads often substituted in the date of the upload while individual uploads usually kept the original shooting date.
Edit Metadata After Uploading Is a Win
Uploading also seemed to play havoc with our account. After two photos were uploaded in one session, our photostream came back as empty (rather jarring if you have a large stream). Shutting down the app and restarting restored our ability to see our photos, but an official app should work smoother than this one did.
Drag the Pin, See Pix in Your Area
Once we got some pictures into our account successfully, we could tap one of the three buttons on the app's bottom. Recent gives us recent photo activity, Contacts lets us see a list of our flickr friends, and You shows you your own photostream. Two buttons across the top of your photostream let you see sets you've created or tags you've applied to pictures or pictures you've favorited. Picture controls here let you alter the metadata for your own snaps or comment or favorite your friends' pictures. From here you can even email the photo to someone or save it to your camera roll.
From the get-go there was a nice little touch to Green Volcano Software's Flickit Pro that no other app offered. With a built in browser, Flickit Pro let us authorize our flickr account from within the app, rather than bumping us to mobile Safari. That's a small thing, but we find apps that consider the small things often get the big things right too.
Authorize Without Leaving the App
Once we were authorized, we had access to our account as well as our flickr contacts' shared photos. We'd like to see an app that could pull contacts from our phone's address books too, but we suspect that has more to do with flickr's TOS than anything else.
We Do Too Have Friends!
Click on an account to see the photos and you have a choice of viewing pictures as individual shots that you navigate through, a vertical cover flow style gallery, or for detail-oriented searches, a single shot with metadata. There's even a button to use the iPhone's accelerometer to automatically flow through the pictures by tilting the phone forwards or backwards.
Tap Now to Edit Metadata or Forever Hold Your Peace
At the bottom of the app are five buttons for app navigation. People is where you'll find and manage your and your friends' accounts. Tap your way into an account and you narrow down your focus to favorited pictures, tags associated with certain pictures, galleries and sets, or all the pictures in the photostream at once. From here you can also comment on pictures or add them to your favorites.
Jellyfish Got Flow and So Does Flickit Pro
Recents shows activity in the last 7 days. Explore lets you search flickr, see your groups, see pictures that flickr has decided are intersting, and see pictures flickr users near you have uploaded (with location metadata active). Upload lets you choose from all your iOS device's pictures or take pictures or movies with the native camera. Lastly Settings lets you choose upload sizes and turn off alerts when the app is finished uploading your media. (We kind of expected a much deeper level of controls from the Settings screen, but we didn't really need it.)
If They Tagged Public Pix with Location, You Can See Them
The only real surprising disappointment in the app was how it handled metadata. Original EXIF dates were replaced with upload ones and once we'd uploaded a picture, there was no way for us to go back in and update the metadata. The official flickr app bested Flickit Pro in the editing regard, though both apps should handle EXIF data much, much better than they do.
Frankly, we expect more from official apps than we were given in this case. Not only was the flickr app buggier than we'd hoped for, it also didn't have much in the way of features. Sure, it was a pretty UI, but issues with EXIF data and uploading hurt its chances of being our go to flickr app by any measure. Flickit Pro is doing almost everything with their app that flickr ought to be doing. While the price is a bit steep (though there is a lighter-on-features free version), if you're a power flickr user, this is definitely the app for you.
While we wanted to only compare batch uploading apps, we had to give a special shout out to one app that had a feature we couldn't find anywhere else. While XK72's Mobile Fotos only allows you to upload one picture at a time, it does give you power over multiple flickr accounts whereas all our other choices were limited to single users. If you manage multiple enterprise accounts, this app can give you a kind of flexibility no one else has on offer, and only for $2.99.