Flickr now offers one TB of free photo storage, equivalent of 1.1 million photos at 3MP

Yahoo!’s acquisition of IQ Engines is a smart move. IQ’s two proprietary technologies, SmartCamera and SmartAlbum, are designed to retrieve the maximum amount of information from a smartphone image and identify images and faces accurately. The technologies use criteria like background elements, GPS data, the type of item photographed or the text present in the photo, all of which help Flickr users search/browse on their online albums “intelligently”. Flickr now offers one TB of free photo storage, equivalent of 537,731 photos with 6.5MP resolution, or 1.1 million photos at 3MP. Users can upload videos of up to 3 minutes in HD format (720p-1080p).

The new features

Hari Vasudev, VP/Head, Yahoo! India R&D, summarised the upgrade. Apart from space, ongoing updates to Flickr include a new Uploadr, the liquid layout to make Flickr faster. New apps for iPhone and Android let you capture, create and share beautiful photos — that’s Flickr on the go. Every photo you edit/share looks as crisp and clear as the original, lets you zoom in on the smallest details or zoom out to see the whole image.

A growing number of photos to Flickr comes from Smartphones, so Flickr App got geared to take advantage of the capabilities of the iPhone camera — like live inline filters and editing features, he said. There is Flickr integration in Yahoo Mail and Flickr images for the climate app. There are simple and robust privacy controls, even if you get lost scrolling through its 8 billion plus photos from more than 92 million users. “Launch of the new Flickr has increased daily photo uploads 3 times (occasionally even 7 times) across the Flickr desktop and mobile.”

My tinkering around then revealed a little more. The newsfeed has been revamped; it’s a lot more visual with larger images and a redesigned user interface. The overall design, though, looks a little incomplete maybe because, in place of the traditional blue/pink/white colour-scheme, black dominates. It may be effective as a backdrop for pictures, but away from them, black looks too dark. The photostream is great, “Profiles” coming with a cover photo, as in Facebook and Google Plus. Is the optimal size for cover photos around 1418 x 189 pixels? Also, the updated photostream takes up the entire screen, making room for an artistic collage. Users can click on any photo to perform a standard set of actions, including favouriting, commenting, sharing. The photostream manages infinite scrolling so the pagination offered isn’t needed.

“I came across Flickr through a friend and thought I’d give it a shot,” says Amardeep Singh, in Bengaluru. His Flickr app for Android, on a Samsung Galaxy S3 running at the rate of 3.5G speeds of 3-4 mbps got him hooked because of the aesthetics around the photo presentation, he added. “It’s a beautiful app.” Fine, but what do you say regarding user-navigation and ease-of-use? They are critical for long-term use. “I measure it based on the first interaction with the app, if it is a good experience.” He used his 3.5G connection to upload and geo-tag five pictures from a recent trip “with fair ease.” The online photo-editing features give normal photos a professional touch.” And being on a large online photo community allows him to see what people are doing with their cameras and interact with them. “I now want to learn photography,” he says.

The “community feeling” was echoed by Amar Jain — amateur photographer, Flickr-user for six years and a mini-Flickr-celebrity. “It’s one TB of free space against 15 GB offered by Picasa,” he added. “Everything is as simple as drag-and-drop, starting from uploading photos to organising them into sets and collections. You share photos easily on social-networking sites with a click of a button.” Flickr is a great way to showcase one’s best photographs, he said, and being connected to a big and vibrant photography community means learning and growing. Check out the option to add music to the slideshow!

And then, talking of “celebrity” status. Looking for pictures related to the Indian Flag for an India feature in their Courier magazine, UNESCO logged on to Flickr and “landed on a photo shared by me! They got in touch and my photo was published in the magazine. That’s great visibility for your work!” No clutter, it’s all only photos. “No bugs?” I asked. “Not so far,” says Amardeep. And the performance? “Acceptable, but improvements will make the app faster.” Tried printing? Hey, mine is a Samsung Galaxy S3 8 mp camera, he bragged. My pictures appear with 3200x2400-odd pixels. “It will be interesting to see how it handles imports from DSLRs and some high-res cameras.”