Flickr today finally added a feature that makes its iOS app worth recommending – no, not native iPad support, unfortunately – but rather an “auto-upload” option that will upload all the photos from your Camera Roll to Flickr’s service, where they’re set to “private” until you explicitly share them with others. This brings Yahoo’s Flickr up to speed with its photo-sharing competitors, including Facebook, Google+ Photos (formerly Picasa) and even Dropbox, all of which have had an auto-upload option for some time.
The Flickr mobile app was revamped last December, at a time when the app hadn’t seen an update for nearly a year. Most welcomed the more modern, speedier app at the time, but realistically, warm feelings toward Flickr may have to more with our own sympathies to how maligned and abandoned the promising service had became once acquired by Yahoo years ago.
As it stands today, Flickr is still an improving photo-sharing experience, but maybe not yet the ideal one. Lacking native tablet support is still a big miss for the company, and its focus on acquiring a startup so it could add in its own photo-filtering features ahead of building for iPad or launching this new auto-upload option, shows a bit of Instagram envy, which is not becoming. Prioritizing filters also misses the point that Flickr’s advantages have always been in its easy-to-access cloud storage and community features, like Groups. A number of pro photograhpers use Flickr as well, and Yahoo’s failure to fully address their needs have led to startups like 500px gaining ground. (The company raised an $8.8 million Series A from Andreessen Horowitz this August).
That being said, with Flickr’s 1 TB of free storage and now auto-upload, the mobile app is now worth really using. The photos are uploaded in the background, and in full resolution. The update also included some bug fixes for Google sign-in, and an auto straighten tool which lets you use the included photo editor to straighten photos in the app.
You can grab the new iOS app here in iTunes. Note that you’ll need to run iOS 7 to use the new auto-upload feature.
UPDATE: Yahoo still has some work to do, as it turns out. When I first switched on Auto Upload, a countdown appeared saying that Flickr was uploading the 2,000+ photos in my Camera Roll. But when I later returned to my upload queue in the app’s settings, the uploads were timed out with errors. (They had red “!” exclamation point icons next to them. Initially, I assumed this was due to Apple killing the app running in background, but I couldn’t get them to start uploading again. I even cleared the queue, then turned Auto Upload off then back on to no avail. The app will not upload my old photos now. It appears that only new photos will upload at this point. Others here are seeing the same thing – that Flickr won’t upload from their current Camera Roll, only photos they snap going forward.
Thanks Yahoo. 1 TB of free storage, and you won’t let us use it. Sigh.