Flickr Announces Android App and Flickr Photo Session

Flickr Announces Android App and Flickr Photo Session

Flickr announced two new features today, an Android app and something called “Flickr Photo Session” where users can share photos and chat with each other. I’ve not had time yet to extensively play with either of these two new products, but here are my off the cuff initial reactions.

1. Flickr Photo Session. With Flickr Photo Session, basically you can invite up to 10 friends to look at a set or some sort of shared content together on flickr. You can use text chat to chat with each other and even make doodles on the photos as you chat about them.

WTF? Who would ever use this? Are you kidding me? So you mean I can take a slide set of my vacation photos and invite 10 cool friends to *text* chat about them with me? And we can draw a mustache on the statue that I took a photo of and lol wtf roflmao about them? What is this, AOL? Who would ever even accept an invitation to such a horrid experience? Photo Sessions are going to be terribly lonely places. Text chat was so last decade.

Why not just join a google hangout instead where we can all see each other face to face on video/audio (and text chat too if we want) and share our screens and go through a slide show that way instead? Also with a Google hangout I’m not limited to just flickr. I can share any photos anywhere on the web. Also I’m not bored to tears just looking at 1,000 photos of someone’s new puppies or grand canyon photos.

It seems like Flickr tried to model this a little after photophlow. The difference though is that with photophlow people with spare time joined an empty group and could chat about any photo on flickr. By restricting Flickr Photo Session to invitees, nobody is ever going to accept the invitations — who wants to be bored to death? — and the doodling on photos thing may be the dumbest feature I’ve ever seen launched on flickr.

They do allow you to use a url to invite people (so maybe you could tweet that out or something) but really I can’t imagine anyone that actually wants to do this — except possibly and just maybe around some of the mammoth archive of underground porn that’s on flickr.

2. The Android App. The number one thing that flickr should have focused on with building an app is giving people an opportunity to easily interact with each other in group threads.

Groups are where the social on flickr happens. People are addicted to groups. I quit all the groups I was active in after too many bad experiences (trolls, personal harassment, anonymous venomous haters, etc.) but many people *are* still involved in flickr groups. It’s crazy to me that they didn’t put together a basic reader to easily read group threads in the app. Like their other app before (you know that crappy one that Yahoo Mobile made) groups are ignored in the new one as well.

On the other hand, they did do search *very* well in the new app. Specifically I can search for one of my photos and then find it and easily go to the set of photos it’s in. This is great.

Once I’m in the set I can swipe the screen to move across from photo to photo in a nice large oversized lightbox with an elegant title. This is slick. This is a great way for me to show photos to people in real life, at a party, over at my house, at the baseball game, etc. (where they are captive and have to put up with it, rather than respond to a text chat sharing invitation).

The new app has a section for recent activity. This is the most addictive page of all on flickr. Unfortunately they don’t tell you the number of faves your photos have received. This is important. They should add this in.

The new app lets you see your contact’s photos (and you can fave and comment on them). I can’t seem to figure out a way to toggle between contacts and friends though. In my case (I’m an edge case) I’ve got over 20,000 contacts. I’m much more interested in the 400+ people on flickr that I call friends.

Final thoughts. I think Flickr Photo Sessions is the dumbest thing to come to Flickr ever — even dumber than flickr galleries (limiting people to 15 photos that are completely ignored that nobody uses) or limiting videos on flickr to 90 seconds (which also hasn’t taken off ). I’m pretty sure Photo Sessions is going to bomb big time.

The Android app missed the boat by not including groups. It’s better than the miserable previous app that the Yahoo Mobile team built though.

More then either of these two points though, both of these “innovations” come too little too late. On a personal level I’m spending 95% of my photo sharing time on Google+ now and the photo sharing community is rapidly leaving flickr and setting up base there.

I’m pretty much done with flickr other than a repository to just dump photos to, so I doubt I’ll use these new features much at all.

Also Interesting, as part of today’s announcement Flickr Chief Steve Douty also outlined Flickr’s new corporate strategy “Deeply Personal Digital Experiences” going forward which is built around a periodic table of elements. It has all kinds of buzzworthy type things in there like – En: To engage and delight users. – Be: To be where the customer goes. – Si: To deliver personal meaning through science and data. – So: To own real social relationships on the web. – Ec: To build an ecosystem.

Unfortunately as admirable as these buzzwords are coming from Douty, they ring hollow to me and sound just like more goobly gook empty Yahoo corporate speak that they’ve been shoveling at us for the past few years (remember that “the internet is under new management — yours” $100 million marketing campaign?) I responded to Douty’s new campaign here. If Douty really cared about these ideas, he’d address the deeper problems inside of Flickr.

Update: I take it back what I said about there possibly being an application for Photo Session with Flickr’s underground porn archive. Apparently you cannot do a photo session with content unless it is coded as “safe” by flickr. So porn sharing is likely off limits with this new feature.

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19 comments on “Flickr Announces Android App and Flickr Photo Session
  1. Bill Binns says:

    This is such baffling behavior! People have been begging for simple functionality improvements on the “Flickr Ideas” board for years. Again and again Flikr responds with “features” nobody wants or asked for.

    It’s 2011 and the Flikr design looks only slightly fresher than Craigslist and we are still stuck with the damn Photostream. I just got the email that it’s time to renew my Pro account. I expect it will be a major hassle to simply hand Yahoo some money. It has been a hassle every year I have done it.

  2. Unless you mentioned this after you started talking about the Android app, I could see Photo session being a “sort-of”, notice sort-of is in quotes, useful tool for client interaction. Mainly with clients of consumer base, like wedding, family portraits, stuff like that. People who aren’t going to be down with doing a “hi-jack my desktop” style web meeting and most likely don’t have Adobe’s image sharing app set up. But, yeah, after that I don’t see a lot of use for it.

  3. Theresa says:

    Some people might use this to discuss flow charts or screenshots or something like that. Flickr is used by more people than just fine art photographers. Sure, you can use a google hangout but lots of people already have a flickr account and have no need to see each other’s faces when they discuss the photo/screenshot.

  4. Thomas Hawk says:

    Theresa the key word in your comment is that “some people *might* use this to discuss flow charts or screenshots.”

    Exactly. Might. Then again they might not. And since the vast majority of people on flickr are not sharing screenshots and flowcharts, it baffles me why they’d spend time and energy working on this half-baked feature (at least give us video/audio like Google+) when soooooo much more on Flickr with more impact needs to be fixed.

    Last year, Flickr’s own designer (now no longer with flickr) blogged about how screwed up the most important page on flickr is. http://blog.timoni.org/post/5557930029/the-most-important-page-on-flickr. Flickr could make this page *tons* better.

    Similarly Explore is a joke. This could be overhauled.

    Or what about doing something really innovative like giving us circles (like Google+) to manage our contacts?

    There is so much more that flickr could do with innovation.

    Instead we get yet another product that nobody will use. A few years back (I think the last time flickr released an “innovation”) they gave us galleries. Who uses galleries? Nobody. It’s a stupid feature because nobody uses it. So I’m limited to 15 photos (safe photos only) that I can put into a gallery that nobody will ever see because flickr has no gallery discovery/promotion engine. Or how about the “innovation” before that. 90 second video clips. Yes. Stunning. Just look what a renaissance in art has been brought about because of this new 90 second limitation flickr format. Again, nobody uses this really.

    Rather than working on things that maybe some people *might* use, flickr should be giving us stuff that we actually *will* use. You know, sort of like their competitor Google+ is doing right now.

  5. Gytis says:

    The bigest advantage of Flickr – you can share your private Photo set with the Guest pass link for non Flickr users. If this feature is implemented in live Photo Sessions I see a lot of potential for using this in combination with Skype, Phone or other communication software when demonstrating slides or pictures and commenting them live. Of course with limitation to only 10 partners you can not deliver live lecture to masses but it easily fits customer support or family pictures review scenario. I think limitation of 10 viewers even might be upgraded for Pro users by bringing more added value to hteir existing accounts.

  6. Thomas Hawk says:

    Gytis, the thing is that they are so far behind Google+ technology. The other night we had a hangout with 10 people live on video/audio. We were sharing photos (yes flickr) from Bodie and talking about them. I set up a flickr slide show and played it for everyone — only we talked about the photos together as they went by instead of just text chatting with each other.

    After we shared that flickr set, we shared a youtube video of someone actually shaving a sheep (weird sounding I know). The point is that the content was unlimited. With flickr you can only share filtered flickr content and even then only text chat with it.

    What’s more, with Google+ going forward, we’ll be able to both broadcast these hangout sessions live and even record them for further distribution going forward. Google+ is leaps and bounds ahead of flickr in this dept. Flickr needs to do something innovative, not something half assed like this.

    People will not use this tech. Well, some people probably will, but it won’t be heavily used or go viral and there’s a lot of things that Yahoo could have spent time and energy on instead of this.

  7. Thomas Hawk says:

    You know what else is telling about the lack of enthusiasm for this new feature. Nobody is talking about it. Even on flickr nobody is talking about it. I went to one of the biggest groups on Flickr, Flickr Central, which usually always ends up posting on new Flickr features, and not one word. Nobody saying AWESOME! This is COOL! I can’t wait to do this! The lack of enthusiasm for this product is deafening.

    Other active groups, like DMU, same thing. Nada.

    Flickr just spent a bunch of time and energy creating something that nobody wants or will use. Sort of like galleries and 90 second video clips.

  8. Bill Binns says:

    I am OK with the 90 second limit on video clips. I would also be OK with no video at all on Flikr (I was one of the people who freaked out when they announced video). As bad as Flikr is, I don’t see how it could get any better by being a dumping ground for a bunch of YouTube content.

  9. Darrel says:

    I’ve been a follower for a while and I just want to throw this out there:

    You’re unabashed praise for a seemingly intangible product that is ostensibly a replicant or derivative of already existing social networks (how much do alarmist concerns and fixes such as privacy or circles matter to the mainstream? not so much) is disconcerting. It almost makes me wonder what the motivation is behind such brazen and unchecked praise (the same goes for your utter discontent with Flickr). I think you take great photos, but if you’re trying to inject yourself as a voice akin to Michael Harrington, I think you lack the restraint that other successful “voices” have contained.

    You still take great photos.

  10. Thomas Hawk says:

    Darrel. I’m assuming when you talk about a “seemingly intangible product that is ostensibly a replicant or derivative of already existing social networks” you’re speaking of Google+.

    So you’re using fancy words to essentially ask me why am I so high on Google+ when it’s just the same thing as other social networks out there before it.

    And here is where I’d take issue with your criticism. I’m not sure if you’re using Google+ or not but it really is something remarkably well done. It’s the most polished social network that’s ever existed. Hangouts are a blast (what are hangouts a “replicant or derivative of?). Circles allow me the greatest control over my contacts that I’ve ever had. On top of it all photos are presented beautifully. Add to this that the engagement I and other photographers receive on our photos there vastly outpace any other social network that’s ever existed, and, well, for me it’s easy to see why I’m excited about this.

    Are you saying that flickr or facebook are “just as good?”

    Add to this the rapid pace of innovation that Google is putting into this product — 100 innovations in the past three months and there’s a whole new reason to be excited about the future of this product. I’m not sure why that would be “disconcerting” to you.

    In terms of my “utter discontent with flickr” this probably has to do with many things. First and foremost flickr for the past 5 years or so has simply failed to innovate. Where Google+ ships 100+ innovations in 3 months, Flickr ships at best a couple of poorly thought out innovations that do very little to improve the product. Yahoo seems happy to just let flickr exist as it is now without spending money and engineering resources to make it something better. This bothers me. I want public opinin along with competition to force Yahoo to innovate with this product. Pushing them to innovate even if they resist kicking and screaming.

    Beyond this very basic point (and I think almost anyone who really studies innovation would agree that flickr has failed here), the community management at Flickr is abysmal. Not only have many, many users (the very ones who make the site the content that is what it can be) been abused by Yahoo staff, I personally have also experienced much of this firsthand. I’ve been censored, banned, blacklisted, talked down to and had a group where I’d invested literally hundreds of hours of my time and energy destroyed by them without any warning or opportunity to take corrective action.

    Is this the way that UGC sites should treat those providing the valuable content? I think not. Further, there seems to really be no movement of any sort for Yahoo to correct these sorts of abuses.

    Hopefully that explains things a bit more.

    Am I *very* invested in social sharing on the web? Absolutely. It’s something I’m passionate about and something that I spend a great deal of my time and intellectual energy thinking about. I find it fascinating and will probably continue this pursuit for quite some time.

  11. Haydar says:

    I really love your works but I couldn’t resist this time to write this. Mr. Hawk, both you and Trey Ratcliff look so silly nowadays that you trying to praise Google+ nearly everyday in every post.

    Yes we all understood that Google+ is great and Flickr is the worst thing in planet but please send us more photos like you did before.

    “something called” is a poor term also.

  12. Thomas Hawk says:

    but please send us more photos like you did before.

    Haydar, I publish 40 photos every day to flickr and 5 of my better photos every day to Google+. How many more photos are you asking for?

  13. Darrel says:

    As long as we’re on the subject of ad hominem attacks and pointed attempts to draw in points that are not at issue, it tickles me that you start your refute with an implicit attack on the way I speak. Sorry that I’m using “fancy” words, but if that’s too cryptic for you, I will try my best to be literal.

    I am on Google+. In fact (and here is my shallow attempt at credibility), I have had close ties with Google and other Silicon Valley tech companies (yes, Yahoo! is one of them, although I will hardly say I am a proud Yahoo and my association with them has died a while ago). While this hardly gives me a voice that is more credible than anyone else’s, I can say that I understand product strategy, roadmaps and the cultural and business acumen that Google is choosing to profess.

    While it’s great that you’re excited about a product, my only concern is that your motivation to project such unabashed loyalty to the product is somewhat questionable. I agree that Google+ is an interesting product, but a milestone in social networking? I’m not actually sure that is something that would be included in discussion of the discourse of social networking in the years to come. It has become more apparent, in the last few months (and from the mouth of Larry last year) that Google needs to find ways to monetize based on personal user information (i.e. Facebook and Twitter). An ad based on a search result, while obviously lucrative, is no longer the cutting edge. So while Google+ is an interesting product, I can’t say that it is a revolutionary one, but more of an amalgamation of similar already established products.

    In that context, this is why I’m questionable of your promotion of Google+. I will, straight off the bat, say that a majority of this opinion is based on circumstantial evidence (such as your history of hating Flickr) and just mere conjecture. But it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that much of your praise of other products is stemmed, directly and sometimes indirectly, from your desire to see Flickr crash and burn. In essence, it’s motivated reasoning and confirmation bias. Which is why, among the strange intersection of photos-whore and tech nerds, many refer to your editorials as “Bill O Reilly for Photographers” (not my quote, and I wish I can properly accredit it to somebody, but alas…).

    Concerning Facebook. I think timeline is a pretty clean user interface and experience. While I’m not a Facebook fanatic by any means, I do think they’re doing a smart thing by preying on nostalgia and history, but this is not the point at issue. I think a relevant discussion would be to focus on the applicability and utilities of social networking in general and what is overkill (Google+ has been accused of this). The whole idea of “too much social networking” has been prevalent in recent months, but I guess this is another discussion.

    Lastly, I think we both are in agreement with Flickr. I am too disappointed with their failure to innovate, but I think this is just a worry that they’re not keeping up with other products such as Instagram.

    With that being said (thank you, Larry David)

    I understand that Flickr is inundated with bullshit that is given to them from Yahoo!. In fact, I have heard that PhotoSession was a Yahoo! idea that was, more or less, coerced down the throats of Flickr. Projects like Geofences (which garnered little attention here, by the way, although it was thoroughly publicized amongst other tech journals and privacy proponents) and the Andorid app (and the presumably new iPhone app) are all remarkable given the context that Yahoo! isn’t exactly the leader in innovation. While, again, both of us agree that we wish Flickr would be as ubiquitous in enhancements and features as Facebook (that will never happen–just compare the engineering resources), I think, given the context, they’ve been pushing as hard as they can. Moreover, the discussion of does Flickr even need to innovate is something sorely missed here, most of the time. Is Flickr a social network? Is it trying to compete with Instagram? Is it broken? Why fix it? These are all questions that are relevant to the discussion of innovation but are sorely not answered in unbiased and objective ways. Which brings me to the final segway.

    Discussions that are attempts to answer these questions are mostly met with a sense of bias. Every criticism, I have seen so far, are laced with ad hominem attacks, straw men to easily knock down and screaming matches with either Flickr lovers or even their employees themselves. I haven’t seen a criticism that wasn’t born out of a deep seeded, antagonized, disgruntled, personal beef you had with someone or something there. I understnad that it must be frustrated to be blocked or banned (or whatever) by a product that you feel you’ve built up yourself, but to dedicate a whole blog and to purposefully project yourself onto products you feel might kill your once beloved product is just so transparent and subsequently doesn’t make for interesting discussion.

    Again, I enjoy the blog. I enjoy your photos. I enjoy your voice. Sometimes, it just comes off a little grating to see that someone with so much talent is limited by their own persona biases.

    Peace and love.

  14. Thomas Hawk says:

    Darrell, I appreciate your thoughtful opinion and criticism. The “fancy words” reference was simply that I thought the language was an unnecessarily obtuse way to simply say Google+. It wasn’t meant to be a personal attack in any way.

    In terms of Geo Fences I did in fact cover that, http://thomashawk.com/2011/08/is-there-a-major-security-hole-in-flickrs-new-geo-fences-feature.html and I’d also hardly consider it great innovation. In fact I think it creates more problems that it solves. The number one camera on flickr right now is the iPhone. If someone builds a geofence around their house or kids’ school and then posts photos from their iPhone (without turning off geotagging on their iPhone) that gps data is still embedded in the image file (which is easily obtained and downloaded from flickr). I worry that because people won’t see the geotag on the photo page, that it will lull them into a false sense of security about the privacy associated with the image. In some ways I think it would be better if it were right there in their face to remind them that “oh crap, my kid’s school is available for the whole world to see, I’d better deal with this.” Simply removing the data from the photo page but having it easily obtained through a photo download creates more risk in some ways. I guarantee you there will be people on flickr who set up geofences that have the gps data in their files unknowingly.

    In fact, I have heard that PhotoSession was a Yahoo! idea that was, more or less, coerced down the throats of Flickr.

    That’s interesting. I hadn’t heard that. But I did hear that a similar thing happened with the first flickr mobile app that really was pretty bad.

    My warm feelings towards G+ really have nothing to do with my dislike of some community management issues with flickr and their lack of innovation or any personal beef. I really 100% honestly think G+ is something amazing and great. My own experience on there has been the best experience I’ve ever had with any social network. My praise was just as powerful for Flickr when I first discovered it, back in the early days, when it did represent innovation in that space. I blogged about it constantly, I dedicated a podcast to it (flickrnation). I spent hours every day talking about how great flickr was, much like I do with G+ now.

    Also, I don’t hate flickr. I actually really really really like flickr. It’s lost a lot of my attention the past three months as that’s moved over to G+, but prior to G+ I spent many, many, hours every single week inside of flickr. My criticism towards flickr has not been to see it crash and burn — to the contrary, it’s been my sincere hope that flickr would get better. That Yahoo execs would wake up and realize the gem that they have — the potential that it holds.

    The discussion of does flickr even need to innovate can and should happen here. I’m of the opinion 100% that the answer to this question is YES! Most definitely. But I’m open to hearing reasons why it shouldn’t too.

  15. anil says:

    can i know mor about yor photography
    i am photographr.

  16. müzikler says:

    thank you very much

  17. Kelly says:

    Great article! I’ve used Flickr less and less with the activity growing on Google+. Flickr makes it so hard to know if someone did a direct reply to a comment you made. I don’t need to waste my time trying to see if someone commented back. They need to make that a lot easier. Yah for Google+ and the ability to easily do all of the things we want in social sharing of photos.

  18. Toe-Mas.

    What a great little back and forth that was. I enjoyed the banter.
    One question… while talking about that dudes fancy words you said he was being obtuse or something. What does that mean?
    Ah. It’s cool. I’ll google it.

  19. UsantofsTat says:

    Hi!
    like you post: to my @amsaquli twitter