Flickr is fun, and ideally, Flickr on the go should be at least as much fun as it is on the desktop. True, you get to use it on a 4″ screen rather than a 24″ one, but that doesn’t mean the experience necessarily has to suffer. Yahoo has now released the Official Flickr Android app, but while it’s official, it’s far from the first (or most established) player on the field.
Rather than just look at the app itself, I decided to compare it with Flickr Companion Free, another Android Flickr client. Let’s see which one is better.
First things first. When using Flickr for Android I experienced something which has never happened to me before. My brand-new Samsung Galaxy S2 (running CyanogenMod 7) simply froze. I don’t mean a force-close or a slight lag, but a grinding, screeching half. The screen would not even turn off, nor would any of the hardware buttons respond (not even the real “button” – the non-capacitive Home button). I eventually had to pry the back of the device open and shake out the battery. This happened just once, but it should never happen under any circumstances. I’m not necessarily blaming Flickr either, but it did happen when I was using the app (and only then).
Now let’s look at what the app has to offer. The interface is very simple – there are four tabs lined up at the bottom of the screen, one leading to a built-in camera. Above you can see the Activity tab selected, with a bunch of news.
The built-in camera opens with an iPhone-like shutter effect, something which I’m not a big fan of. The camera is not much to write home about, offering these simple options:
The second button on the left lets you pick an existing image from your gallery, which you can apply effects to:
A couple of niggles here. The effects are named after cities, which is nice, but are very non-descriptive. You may remember you like “Paris”, but it would be nice to have some sort of a description as to what exactly that effect does.
For example, I think Rome applies some sort of vignetting to the image, but I’m not entirely sure, and there’s no way for me to find out. The other issue is that when selecting an image for the gallery, you can’t use the Back button to go back and select a different image if you regret your selection.
Once you’ve selected (or taken) an image you wish to upload, you can add some extra details about it and set privacy options:
Then you can share it with friends on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr or plain old email, and upload it:
Now let’s look at browsing through a photostream:
This is my own photostream, and you can see it’s divided into the stream itself, sets, and contacts. A single set view looks like this:
And when you tap a single photo, you get a little instruction:
And here’s a single photo view:
And a full-screen view:
All in all, the viewing experience is nice and simple.
So that’s Flickr for Android, pretty much. Now, let’s take a look at its competitor:
Flickr Companion Free
Flickr Companion Free also has a simple layout, opting for large buttons rather than tabs lined along the bottom. Let’s look at the set view:
It’s a text-heavy list, with no thumbnail. Also, note the ad; these don’t exist in the official Flickr app, but you can also pony up for the paid version of Flickr Companion to make them go away. Now let’s go into a set:
Thumbnails galore; one thing you can’t see is that the app loads all thumbnails in one go, so scrolling is smooth and fast.
Now, a single photo view:
This is exactly the same photo I’ve looked at in the Flickr app above, so you can see the banner, as well as how “full screen” is actually not full-screen at all, even when the image was originally shot in portrait orientation. Also, loading time was longer. You do get to zoom in quite well:
I can’t compare camera functionality between the two apps, for the simple reason that Flickr Companion simply has no camera or built-in effects.
Flickr for Android got a lukewarm reception in the Market, and currently rates at 3.5 stars (with a bit more than 1,100 reviews). Also, I did have that nasty freeze when using the app, but I’m still not sure whether or not it’s Flickr’s fault. At the end of the day, I feel Flickr has won this comparison, mainly because Flickr Companion Free doesn’t have a built-in camera, and because “full screen” isn’t really full screen. Both apps are solid, but none are outstanding.
Did I miss an important Flickr client, or a key feature in one of these? Let us know in the comments!