The Flickr service is a great way to manage your photos and share them with the world. Several third-party Flickr apps are available for Android already - how does the official alternative measure up?
Barely a phone is sold these days without a built in camera, and almost every Android device that is currently available has the facility to take photos and help you to record your memories.
Now, there are various ways in which you can share the photos that you have snapped on your phone, from uploading to Facebook or sharing via email or text message, or even Twitter. However, having access to the same photo sharing options that you have on your desktop computer is more convenient, if only to keep all of your pictures in one place.
While there have been previous unofficial Flickr apps, a new official Android app is available that should help you to retain control of any Flickr photos you might have.
Will It Run on My Android?
The official Flickr app is designed for use with Android 2.1 or later, so those of you with older devices will need to use one of the unofficial apps, such as Flickr Droid.
Flickr is available free from the Android Market, and can be downloaded and installed in a matter of minutes. Requiring access to your camera, location and audio recording systems, the Flickr app requires a comparatively hefty 6 MB of space, and sadly doesn’t support App2SD.
This is one of several Android Market complaints against the app, with other complaints concerning the slow camera (experienced by this reviewer) and the impact on your phone’s battery life.
Once Flickr is running on your phone, you will need to sign in. If you already have a Flickr login then you should use the credentials for this, otherwise you will need to sign up.
An additional login option is available to anyone with a Google or Facebook account (and there is a very good chance that as an Android user you will have a Google account!). Once you have signed in, the app will display brief tutorial information for each of the four sections, Activity, Contacts, You and Camera. We’ll take a look at these in the next section.
Once you have cancelled the brief help pop ups that appear when you first run the app, you will be able to begin using the app. If you have tried a Flickr app on other platforms then you will probably have an idea of what to expect; if not, read on…
The Android Flickr app features four screens, each of which offers a separate function.
Activity – use this to remind yourself of any recent actions you have performed in the app or on the main website.
Contacts – the activity of any friends that you have setup on Flickr can be viewed here, enabling you to interact with them as you would on the main website.
You – your entire gallery (or photostream) can be accessed here, with the images ready to be opened on your phone and even viewed in full screen mode.
Camera – with this option you can quickly launch the camera and snap photos to be uploaded to your Flickr account.
One thing you will notice with these options is how they appear to be web pages rather than standard app pages. It would seem that the official Flickr app still requires some work to be a fully-fledged app rather than a mobile phone website.
Configuring the Settings
The Settings screen can either be accessed via the More button or via the main screen; here you can change the photo upload size, Enable location services to share geographical information about the uploaded image and also clear your Flickr search history. You may also Sign out from the app in this screen, allowing you to then sign in with a different account if necessary.
You might have been expecting more options; I certainly was, and those that are present seem to underline the fact that this could be a more polished app.
Viewing Photos with Flickr
When you select an image to view in Flickr, a new set of options will become available via the menu button. You will be able to quickly jump to the Home screen, Add comments about the image, Share via Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr or your email account or view Details about the image (dimensions, date of upload, what device it was captured on). You can also Download the image and via the More button you can choose to Delete it from your photostream.
As well as selecting from any of those options, you might simply choose to view the image, which should already be present on the screen. You can scroll through a photo stream by swiping your finger left or right across the image, and full screen viewing is possible by tapping the image.
You Might Prefer the Third-Party Apps
Flickr has come late to the Android platform, and as such there are various third-party alternatives that have already built up good reputations. While it might be considered extremely cool to turn up late to your own party in real life, the same isn’t true in business, and with such a weak initial offering Flickr has left itself with a lot of catching up to do. The app feels as though it was nailed together with pins and plywood and bashed out to provide an official presence in the Android Market.
There is a feeling of cynicism behind this app; it feels like a belated attempt to grab a stake of the Android platform when other users are busy with the alternative third-party apps. As a result you should probably spend some time investigating the alternatives, which offer a more stable experience and support for older devices.
All screenshots and references via Flick for Android, available from the Android Market