Tracks, the mobile photo-sharing app once described as Color for normal people, is rolling out another major update to its iOS application today. It’s also making its official debut on Android, following some early tests on that platform. Dubbed Tracks 2.0, this new version is introducing a handful of notable features, the two most important being “Joinable Tracks” and “Magic Tracks.” The former are public photo collections shared by friends which you can choose to follow, while the latter are automatically-created photo albums built using Facebook and your mobile phone’s camera roll.
First, some background on this startup, for those unfamiliar: Tracks launched last year at TechCrunch Disrupt NY as a way for users to create shared photo albums. These albums are called Tracks (hence the app’s name), and are viewable both within the app and on the web. Today, Tracks has quite a bit of competition, not only in terms of general purpose mobile photo-sharing apps, but more specifically, it’s up against a few apps which are also attacking this idea of shared photo albums in new and creative ways. For example, Flock (from the makers of Bump), automatically groups photos you and your Facebook friends snap at the same location and time. Moment.me does something similar, but without the requirement that other users download the app, too. And PhotoCircle lets you bump phones to transfer photos using shared albums called “Circles.”
In other words, simply offering a platform for creating and joining shared albums is no longer enough, as Tracks seems to have come to understand given today’s launch of these added features. To compete, apps now have to offer something else beyond utility – or even elegance – to entice people to try the app. And that’s exactly what the new Joinable Tracks and Magic Tracks features are all about.
You can sort of think of Joinable Tracks like Tumblr’s “track,” Flickr tags, or Instagram’s hashtags – that is, they allow you to follow the public photo collections from your friends. These could be collections on subjects like food or architecture or fashion, or whatever else your friends aren’t shy about sharing publicly. Joinable Tracks are displayed on the Tracks app’s main screen, and you can choose to follow them or not follow them, given your interest.
Magic Tracks is the more interesting feature, however, as it’s offering the ability to create automatic photo albums. Like the competing apps mentioned above, these albums use the time and geolocation to group photos from your Camera Roll, and the app also creates two more albums from your Facebook photos – one of you and friends, the other of you and your significant other (as disclosed by your Facebook profile data).
Unfortunately, in tests, my experiences with Magic Tracks were more “miss” than “hit.” It wasn’t able to make Camera Roll albums for me, and my “friends” album only included one photo even though I’m tagged in more. However, because I’m using a beta build of the app right now, I’ll have to reserve final judgement until I’m able to download the public build today along with the rest of you. (For what it’s worth, the company had a lot of beta testers and had never seen this issue before, so there could be a problem on my device that hasn’t yet been pinpointed.)
While those above features are the two biggest additions to highlight with Tracks 2.0’s launch, the app update actually includes a number of new or improved features, such as a visual redesign, a faster “social” camera feature with filters, an animated slide show option, and more. And of course, Tracks is expanding its reach with its Android availability.
The company won’t talk about active users or downloads at this time, but CEO Vic Singh says they’re now growing 25% month-over-month, with retention hovering at 60% (also calculated on a monthly basis).
You can download the new apps from here for either iOS or Android.