The application launches with a splash, so to say:
No explanation text, no lengthy dialogs. Just one Abe Lincoln graffiti slowly panning across the screen, and two large buttons. If you’re not partial to Lincoln, fret not: it’s actually a fancy slideshow with all sorts of images (but with no credit for the photographers, I’m afraid). There’s not much to do except press that Create Account button, so let’s do just that:
Lightbox Photos doesn’t use your Google account credentials like other applications (Words with Friends, for example). You’re going to need to create an account the old-fashioned way, password and all. All fields are required: It won’t even let you leave the “full name” field blank. This may be a bit of a turn-off for some new users. You haven’t even started using the app, and you’re already required to give away your details and pick a password. Lucky for you, I’ve done just that so you could see what the app looks like on the next screenshot:
Here you can connect with various social networks. That’s a large part of the attraction for many users of this app, because you can share your photos all over the place. For this review, I won’t be connecting with any services. Onwards!
The next step has you pick out a profile photo. You can actually skip it – just hit Save and you’ll be fine. You now find yourself in the app, looking at a grid of popular photos pulled in from the Web:
The reason you see some blank squares is that the photos took some time to load, even on my Wi-Fi connection. Tapping a photo brings it up in full-screen mode, with full photographer credits:
Lovely image, really. You can then swipe the screen to smoothly transition over to the next image – this time there’s no waiting at all. Here it is, mid-swipe:
When you rapidly flick between images, you may have to wait a little bit. But if you actually look at the new photo for a moment, the next one will load in the background, so browsing the gallery would be a seamless experience. But while these photos are very beautiful, they were not taken by my friends. This is what My Lightbox is for:
Okay, so I don’t really have many friends (sitting here on a lonely Friday night writing this blog post, violins sadly wailing in the background), but the concept seems rather cool. Next, let’s see what image capture looks like:
Confused you there, didn’t I? This is actually an image of my screen – of the very application I use to take screenshots of my device. Pretty neat “crazy mirror” effect. Speaking of effects, once you take an image you can apply all sorts of funky effects. Here’s what the image looks like after I applied an effect called XPro:
It’s very low-fi, but I think it works with my phone’s simple camera. Once you’re happy with the effect, you get to describe and share your photo:
The UI isn’t very standard (one of Android’s pitfalls, really), but it’s clear in this case. I’ve chosen to post the photo to my public Lightbox.com wall, which looks like this:
Talk about minimalism! I quite like it, actually. That’s a very clean look for a gallery.
I’ve previously used one of Lightbox’s primary competitors, Picplz, which we reviewed back in November. Both applications require up-front registration, but Lightbox feels snappier and more responsive than Picplz, at least on my own device. Another thing I like about Lightbox is that it doesn’t automatically log my location along with the image – I had some trouble convincing Picplz not to use my location. I also like Lightbox’s tight Flickr integration. If you regularly take photos using your smartphone (or want to make it a habit), you would do well to check out Lightbox.
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