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.