Flickr excited a lot of people with its new interface this week. Are the changes more than skin deep?
Like many other people, I was very happy to see the new interface that Flickr unveiled to display photos. When someone visits my Flickr stream now, this is what they'll see.
The New and Improved Flickr
Here's the good news. The display of photos really sucks you into the site. Instead of flipping from page to page looking at thumbnails, you can see larger preview images that continuously scroll.
From a user perspective, it's a much faster and more interesting way to examine someone's photos. The experience is more immersive and you don't get bored clicking page after page while waiting for them to load.
I wonder where they got this idea?
My Google Plus Album View
There's a lot of similarity to the user experience between Flickr and Google Plus photos. Actually, I'm OK with that idea. If an interface works, it works. If Google can rip off the iPhone with Android, why can't Flickr rip off Google? I'm sure someone will sue over this, but lawyers need more money.
Comparing Flickr to Google Plus Photos
It wasn't long ago that Google announced some improvements to its photos on Plus. There were some things that I liked, and some that I could do without. Google's idea of “Awesome” is the ability to automatically create animated GIFs out of photos.
My idea of “Awesome” would be to have a global setting on Plus that Muted all animated GIFs. What is this, MySpace? I don't want to see an animated GIF of some dude eating and making faces.
If there are animated GIFs on Flickr, they are thankfully outside of my view. I use these sites to share my photos, but I also want to see photos from other users. This is where Flickr really trumps Google Plus with its Faves feature. Here are some of my Faves on Flickr.
There's even a slideshow feature that runs images full screen with a Ken Burns style of motion. No browser or other interface in the way. Just you and the photos.
On Google Plus, I can see photos as they come up in my stream (which now looks oddly like Pinterest), but I can't mark any of them as a favorite. Sure, I can hit +1, but that doesn't give me an opportunity to mark it so I can see it again later. Favorite photos are a handy feature, particularly when you're planning a trip or like an idea for a photoshoot. Flickr is a big help with those plans. Google Plus? Not so much.
Flickr Still Has Work
Although I'm very happy to see the new user interface for photos, Flickr's Groups are still a decade out of date. There's no improvement that I can see in the community aspects of Flickr.
Sharing photos is also a bit controversial. Even if you mark your photo permissions to prevent sharing, Flickr still permits it. That's just wrong. Just because a person submits their photo to view doesn't mean they want it passed around for use on other sites.
Yes, I know you can always do a screen capture, but that's not really the point. Flickr should respect the permissions that its users set for their photos. Perhaps that will change after SmugMug purchased Flickr.
As much as I like the notion of Flickr Favorites, they only changed the interface. Why not add more features? I'd love to have categories, sets, or albums for my favorites.
How hard is it to write code that says “This Fave goes in that folder”? It's been a long time since I wrote code. DOS. Turbo Pascal. Wouldn't have been very hard back then. Is it so hard now to add a feature that lets users organize their Faves? I hope not.
One Terabyte. That's how much space Flickr gives users now for free accounts. Many people commented that it makes the 15 GB that Google just announced look pretty anemic in comparison. I sincerely doubt many of us will touch that 1 TB of space limit, even at full resolution.
A few, maybe. If we were uploading RAW files, definitely. For now, it's a good marketing message that they won't have to serve up for the large portion of their membership base.
Perhaps we'll see some other improvements. I truly hope so, because the Groups need work. I'd like to see Yahoo use and promote Flickr after letting it languish for so long. Hey, it even gives me hope that Aperture 4 will come out this year.