The New Flickr Is Worth Another Look

The photo service, which Yahoo acquired in 2005, is now offering a whopping one terabyte of free storage, with no size limits.

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Jared Newman / TIME.com

To get people interested in Flickr again, Yahoo is letting its terabytes do the talking.

The photo service, which Yahoo acquired in 2005, is now offering a whopping one terabyte of free storage, with no size limits. Users can also upload 1080p videos, up to three minutes long, counting toward the overall storage limit. A new website and Android app have launched alongside the new storage offering as well.

That’s enough to get me interested, at least. I’ve never had much use for Flickr before, but I’m taking a second look in light of Yahoo’s largess. Here’s what I’ve learned after spending the day loading old photos onto Flickr’s website by the gigabyte:

Flickr vs. Facebook vs.Google+

Your main options for storing lots of photos online–that is, more than the handful of gigabytes offered by storage services like Dropbox and SkyDrive–are Flickr, Facebook and Google+. Each service has its own benefits and drawbacks.

Facebook and Google+ both offer unlimited storage for your photos, but with a resolution limit of 2048 pixels wide. Google+ lets you store photos at full resolution, but these count toward the 15 GB of free storage on your Google account. If you just want to back up pristine copies of your photos to the cloud, neither of these options are ideal due to their resolution restrictions.

Where Facebook and Google+ shine are their sharing options. Given Facebook’s dominance in social networking, storing your photos there is the best way to make sure they’re seen by friends, family and acquaintances.

Google+ sharing offers a more controlled environment. The ability to group your contacts into “circles,” and then only share with the circles you want, is a powerful way to restrict who sees any given photo or album. On the downside, the folks you share with may never stop by Google+ to take a look.

By comparison, Flickr seems more useful for archival purposes. You can upload your photos without squashing them down to a lower resolution, and most people won’t have to worry about the one-terabyte storage limit for a very, very long time.

Oh, and Flickr has sharing options of its own, but the site is very much designed to be its own social network. You can share your photos with friends or family, but they’ll need to be Flickr members to see those photos by e-mail, which creates a “guest pass.” (By default, photos are set to public, but you can change default privacy through Flickr settings.)

Flickr for Web: Functional, Sprawling

Many veteran Flickr users are frothing with rage over the changes to Flickr’s website and service plans. As someone who didn’t use Flickr before, I’m not one of those angry users. Flickr’s new Photostream, which arranges your pictures in a stylized, endlessly-flowing grid, seems pleasant to me, and it’s easy enough to drill down into individual albums.

flickrorganizr

Jared Newman / TIME.com

But just looking at the site, I can understand why any big change would trigger a backlash among Flickr’s core audience: There’s a lot going on here. Every subsection of the site has a cluster of subsections within it. Many of these areas–Camera Finder, Discussions and World Map, to name a few–I’d never dream of visiting. There’s a “FlickrMail,” separate from Yahoo Mail. Simply viewing a photo brings up a bevvy of viewing options, categorization, notation, person tagging, mapping, grouping and editing.

Even the simple act of editing the privacy settings for a photo requires you to jump into a separate editor, dubbed the Organizr. It’s a powerful tool for batch editing and grouping photos into albums, but it shouldn’t be necessary for such a basic edit. (Correction: You can edit privacy settings under the “Additional Info” section and then clicking “show more.”)  I’ve also spotted some inconsistencies in Flickr’s website, where the old design bubbles up.

For someone who just wants to upload some photos, put them in an album, and share with a few people, the Flickr website can feel like overkill. But drastically simplifying the site would alienate core users even further. Maybe it’s time for a “Flickr Lite” that offers the simple, stylized feel of the redesign without replacing the Flickr that power users have grown accustomed to.

Mobile App Blues

In a way Flickr already does have a “Lite” version, in the form of its mobile apps. The iPhone and Android versions look different from one another; the former has an Instagram-like layout of five navigation buttons on the bottom of the screen, while the latter uses a sidebar. Both apps feel a lot less cluttered than Flickr’s Website.

Photo 1

Jared Newman / TIMe.com

But here, the functionality is a little too basic. Deleting a photo requires three taps–once on the info button, then on “Edit this photo,” then “Delete this photo” at the bottom of the screen–and there’s no way to edit photos in batches. The apps offer Instagram-like filters, but only for photos you’ve just taken or added, not for ones that are already on Flickr.

What Flickr’s mobile app needs more than anything is an auto-upload feature. Google+, Facebook and Dropbox already offer this feature, which is a great way to back up your phone’s pictures online. Flickr, with its generous free storage offering, seems tailor-made for automatic backups.

Despite Flickr’s drawbacks, I’m not hesitating to store my old photos with the service. I wish that the website offered a simpler way to navigate, and that the mobile app had more features, but until now I’ve been missing a way to back up my photos without sacrificing image quality. The one-terabyte giveaway isn’t the most elegant way to rekindle interest in Flickr, but it works for me.

17 comments
DanInATX
DanInATX

Looks like it's been mentioned above, but there is a 200MB file size limit. I have an oversized scan with important detail involved and don't want to compromise the original TIFF file. Unfortunately I came upon this limit right away. "No size limit" should mean no size limit. 

semiahmoowr
semiahmoowr

Marissa Mayer is a callously arrogant woman for shoving this garbage in our face. What a horrible website the new Flickr is. Full of flaws, slow downloads, the inability to look at small thumbnails. The list goes on and on. As I said, she's callously arrogant. She carries her arrogance in her body language. 

DaisyDeadhead
DaisyDeadhead

I just want to edit a damn photo.  Used to take 2 minutes.  Now?  Um, where is the link to edit?  HOW THE HELL AM I SUPPOSED TO KNOW HOW TO DO THIS?  Never mind the HELP page, it is all outdated and does not apply to the new Flickr.  

What a mess.  

PhilBrown
PhilBrown

 So, Mr. Reporter, you don't know Flickr but you're presuming to say you like the new Flickr and maybe we should give it a chance. Fine. No credibility there, but you have that right, and hey, you even get paid for it. But your opinion is largely irrelevant. Have a nice day. 

Indycaver
Indycaver

The real news story here is how Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer and Flickr staff are so out of touch with their customers on Flickr that the new format has generated nearly 20 thousand complaints since the launch of new format. Bad layout and design, a loss of functionality, and higher use costs are the key complaints. The real benefactors of the new format are the competing photo websites who are accommodating the move of Flickr members to much better designed sites that actually work as they are suppose to.

You may find the new format impressive if you've just joined the site, or have only posted a few photos or comments ... but if you've been posting photos, and commenting on photos for years like most of the pro-users have been ... it's just a mess of garbage you have to deal with everytime you log on.

Yahoo treats it's paying customers like cattle ... trying to feed them a steady diet of advertising. They need to realize their users are "customers" and deserve respect! I have not doubt that once Flickr doesn't meet its profit projections ... Yahoo will just shut it down. Yahoo has been very good at killing web sites they don't understand!

RIP Flickr

e11world
e11world

This article started out bad so I didn't really want to read it and this is the case with many of the time.com articles sadly.

"offering a whopping one terabyte of free storage, with no size limits. Users can also upload 1080p videos, up to three minutes long, counting toward the overall storage limit"

You are contradicting yourself already in this sentence. And there are size limits of 200mb per image as well as other limits if you dig deep into the settings.

Clearly you didn't do your homework prior to this article. I do hope that there are organizational tools in Flickr since I haven't used it in a while (because of the limitations it had I moved to Google PicasaWeb sort of)


MartinG.Conde
MartinG.Conde

As a "Pro" member (paying customer) of Flickr since August 2006, I have uploaded nearly 9000 images. With the decision by Yahoo CEO Mayer and her technical staff to change the overall format of Flickr, without either notifying in advance her several of millions of international "Pro"  paying customers; nor having used a Beta-prototype before hand to get positive customer feedback. Prior, to the sudden un-announced drastic changes, I would highly recommended Flickr for & encouraged anyone wanting to present their photographic work (novice to highly professional) online. Likewise, even President Obama and the White House have an official Flickr page. But, currently after Yahoo CEO Mayer's now changes to Flickr, both the White House & as well as the Library of Congress official Flickr page(s) looks as if it was made by some love sick teenage girl in an attempt at a hasty and cluttered Justin Bieber's social media fan page. Likewise, in the new format CEO Mayer, now my work on flickr in the field of archaeology in Rome and the international, is beyond absolutely useless. Now I have to check and download 9000 images from my flickr account so I can transfer it to another very professional photographic online archival & collection website, in order for all of it to be presented in a systematic and educational format for the international readers.  As angry as I am I wonder Ms. Mayer how many other United States Governmental, and other international Governmental Agencies, Universities, and Academic institution will also be having to transfer their work to others online collections? This is considering no one's work now on the new Flickr wants to be mistaken for a Justin Bieber social media fan page?

PhotoVaughan
PhotoVaughan

... so what happens when someone completely changes a product- calls it 'awesome'- and 99% of it's users hate it? ( and 'hate' is the mildest comment in that avalanche of a response that Yahoo is getting) Of course they say- "Hey we did a lot of research, spent a lot of time and money on this... they are wrong and we are right. In a couple of months they will forget about the old stuff and they'll love New Coke!"

PhotoVaughan
PhotoVaughan

Comments coming into Flickr's user forum have been over 99% negative! An unprecedented flood of over 14,000 comments in the first 24 hours. What Flickr HAD was an unusually clean and uncluttered platform so that it's users could enjoy photos and other images. They have joined the rest of the greedy believing the point is profit not product. But without a good product... does anyone remember MySpace?

Mariacordell
Mariacordell

"Even the simple act of editing the privacy settings for a photo requires you to jump into a separate editor, dubbed the Organizr."

Wrong. The privacy settings are available and editable for any photo while viewing it. It's on the right side, in the "additional info" section.

beckymalaria
beckymalaria

"You can share your photos with friends or family, but they’ll need to be Flickr members to see those photos."

No they don't. Just send them the link. You could even have your pics set to completely private and share them with selected people using a "guest pass" (secret link.) 

newmanjb
newmanjb moderator

@Mariacordell Ah, you're right. You hit "show more" first, which I didn't realize.

beckymalaria
beckymalaria

I should add however that I'm one of the existing users who can't stand the new design.