Cooliris Adds A Social Layer To Its Photo-Browsing Apps With ‘Endless Discovery’ Features

Cooliris is aiming to make its photo-browsing experience more addictive today with the launch of new features in its iPhone and iPad apps that it describes collectively as an attempt to offer “endless discovery.”

The company, which is backed by Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and others, offers users a single app where users can browse photos across multiple online services, including Facebook, Instagram, Flickr, Twitter, Google Drive, and more. CEO Soujanya Bhumkar has argued that most popular photo apps thus far have really been “camera” apps, focused on features that help users take and upload photos, whereas Cooliris really is optimized for photo browsing and discovery.

Until now, however, the apps have been limited to photos that users uploaded themselves to their own accounts. Starting today, they can also browse photos posted by their connections on these other services, including their Facebook friends, people they follow/who follow them on Instagram, and their Flickr contacts.

Bhumkar told me that this should lead to a big increase in user engagement. By making friends’ photos available, Cooliris has dramatically increased the library of content that’s viewable in the Cooliris apps. It could also mean that Cooliris’ cross-service capabilities are relevant to more users — you may not post photos to Facebook, plus Instagram, plus Flickr, but there’s a good chance that you have friends sharing on all of those services.

The Cooliris team stopped by the TechCrunch office earlier this week to show off the new features, and also to tout their new slogan, “Pixels are the new decibels.” As before, browsing photos feels like a really nice fit for the “3D wall” technology that Cooliris has been working on for years. This time around, what was particularly impressive was the way the app replicates many of the social browsing features available in each of the services that it integrates with. For example, not only can you browse your friends’ Facebook photos, but when you’re looking at a photo, you can easily jump to the photos of people who are also tagged in that image.

Cooliris is also announcing integration with Dropbox. Both Dropbox and Google Drive offer their own photo-browsing experiences, but their interfaces are really file- and folder-centric, whereas Cooliris is optimized for giving users the ability to browse a lot of high-quality photos. The app has also added features allowing users to bulk save their photos to a specific Google Drive or Dropbox folder.

Bhumkar also talked about the apps’ business model. He said that in the second half of the year, he plans to add a subscription option starting at $4 a month. He emphasized that you’re not paying for more storage (since the photos are stored in other services anyway), but rather additional features like support for video. He also plans to start offering digital booklets as a new way to share and browse photos, which will sell for one-off fees.

“We think that some people are going to be willing to pay to level up,” he said.

A couple of months ago, Cooliris announced that its apps have been downloaded 3 million times on iOS. This week Bhumkar also pointed out that Cooliris users are viewing 1,200 photos every minute.