A shiny new update has just appeared in my app store app for Flickr. It's not one of those 'Minor bug fixes' updates, but includes six bullet points of improvements. It is a filter-heavy update, but there are some major changes to the editing features, too. The app has lost its Aviary editing appearance, and Flickr has said that the team who created it were from the recently acquired KitCam and GhostBird software outfits. The look is new and so are the tools.
Gone are the previously animal-named filters; instead there are 14 new filters, some with names that give you idea of what to expect, like 'Antique' or 'Lomo' others that, quite frankly, seem to be plucked out of the aether. Say, 'Dublin' or 'Louisiana.' These can be applied 'traditionally' in post-production, or 'live' as you take photos in-app.
If you're using the Flickr app to take photos, rather than the iPhone's native camera app, there are focus and exposure lock options, a pinch-to-zoom tool, and a grid to assist with composition.
The new editing tools are a more sophisticated selection than before. They include the usual, like brightness, contrast, and white balance, but extend to colour balancing with red, blue, and green channels, a levels tool, and a sharpening function. The crop function allows you to flip and rotate images as well as straighten them. I must say: I don't find the pinch-to-zoom crop function that intuitive to use. Neither am I keen on my cakes being upside down, but you never know when you might need it.
It's possible to add customisable vignettes, linear or radial tilt-shift effects, colour bursts, and worn effects to your images, too. (If you're struggling to find those, they're hiding beneath the filter icons.)
The animated transitions for the camera and editing tools that are meant to provide users with 'the best camera experience yet' might be over-egging the pudding a little, but this is an update that suggests Flickr's mobile focus is sharpening. Far more control is being placed in the hands of the people who are using their mobile phones to take photos. It's a sign of the maturation of the mobile photography phenomenon.
Using a variety of different apps to achieve the effect that I want for my photos isn't something I've shied away from. I'll happily bounce between my iPhone's camera app, Snapseed and ColorTime for editing (and maybe other apps like Juxtaposer for more extreme effects), and Flickr for sharing. With this update, it seems that Flickr is trying to make itself into a much more rounded photo-making and photo-sharing facility. I've not spent enough time with it yet to determine if it's enough for me to leave behind Snapseed, but that's certainly Flickr's intention. It's both serious and playful: so can it successfully appeal to both sides of the market?
Oh, and I've noticed that the Flickr 'r' is now purple - bringing a touch more Yahoo! to the blue and pink of Flickr.