PicPlz Adds Speed, Polish As The Mobile Photo Wars Rage On

As many of you are well aware, I write about a photo sharing service, Instagram, quite a bit. In my opinion, they’ve hit the right combination of speed, utility, and fun within a mobile photo app. And while they’re growing fast, they’re hardly the only player in the space. In fact, there are dozens of rivals in Apple’s App Store alone. Of those, arguably the most direct rival right now is PicPlz. And today, they’re pushing back at their rival with added speed and a revamped user interface.

The latest version of PicPlz, 1.4, which has just hit the App Store brings a UI that has been totally reworked so as to be more obvious to the end user. “The main goal of this release was to listen to and address the user feedback we have gotten over the past few months. The major themes in that feedback were: speed/responsiveness and usability,” co-founder Dalton Caldwell tells us.

And truth be told, those were the two major issues I personally had with PicPlz. But I’ve been testing out the latest version for a bit and it definitely is much improved. In fact, users of Instagram should feel right at home in it now.

The new key features include:

  • New navigation structure to allow fast switching between browsing and photo posting screens
  • Simplified photo posting flow
  • Live thumbnail preview. Quickly see what you’re photo looks like with different filters.
  • Camera now supports “tap to focus”
  • New users can test out the app without creating an account or logging in

PicPlz does have a couple of advantages over Instagram. First and formost, they have an Android app and a solid web presence, while Instagram still has neither. (Though it’s important to note that these changes will be on the iPhone version first and coming to Android shortly.) But the service also allows you to capture and use full-sized images rather than the small ones that Instagram defaults to.

Of course, the filp-side to that is that small images allow uploads and downloads to go much quicker. But PicPlz also has an option to downsize images automatically so they can be shared more quickly.

PicPlz’s new thumbnail preview is also pretty nifty. This shows you what your image will look like before you hit the button to apply a filter (which can take a couple of seconds).

PicPlz and Instagram are also grouped together often because they currently share the same investor, Andreessen Horowitz. But that should change shortly when Instagram closes their new round without that firm’s participation — they’ve chosen to back PicPlz in the space going foward.

Mixed Media Labs, the parent of PicPlz, has always said their true ambitions lay beyond just a photo app. Instead, they’d like to build a series of different apps in the mobile space, each with clear monetization ideas. But first they need to nail PicPlz and version 1.4 is a step in the right direction.

You can find PicPlz in the App Store here.