Review: William Fleming Klick
On August 8, 2008, we reviewed a collection of eight different Flickr applications for the iPhone and iPod touch in a roundup entitled iPhone Gems: Every Flickr Application, Reviewed. This review contains a review of one application from that roundup; additional comparative details can be found in the original full story.
Yahoo!‘s Flickr service is the top photo-sharing site online; its large userbase, friendly, clean interface, and open API have allowed it to grow to storing over 2 billion photos, and developers have created iPhone and iPod touch apps that work directly with the service. Note up front that all of the apps share two common limitations: iPhone OS 2.0 currently limits uploads of previously stored-in-iPhone or -iPod photographs to a maximum resolution of 640x480, with in-application camera functionality available as a workaround. Additionally, in order to show a preview but maintain a full-resolution image, the preview image shown after taking a photo with an in-application camera is normally cropped in one manner or another. Again, all of the apps are affected by these limits; it’s only a question of whether the developers find smart ways around them.
Klick is a full-featured Flickr client with some big ideas that are held back by navigation problems and other issues. Once the app is authorized with Flickr, users are presented with a page showing their photos in a list, with each picture displayed alongside information on title, author, how long ago it was posted, and how many views it’s had. At the bottom is a navigation bar with an Action button, a globe button—if you have geotagged photos in your stream—which leads to the app’s map view, and a play button for starting a bare-bones slideshow. A camera button in the upper right hand corner provides instant access to the camera and photo source menu no matter where you are in the app.
Confusingly, the action button in the lower left corner, commonly used to bring up menus that allow the user to send, move, or do something with the content in some way, is also used for navigation throughout the app. Once tapped, it allows the user to view a friend feed, see photos taken nearby, explore interesting photos, view pics they’ve tagged as favorites, or view a list of friends for viewing a specific contact’s photos. The limitations imposed by Klick’s non-standard use of the action button are a large part of the app’s problems: with room for only a few choices, users have a limited amount of content to view and an equally limited way in which to sort that content.
Klick’s map view, available in any photostream where photos have been geotagged and powered by Google Maps, is arguably its killer feature. Red indicators sprout up from the locations where photos were taken; tapping on one opens a small preview window, complete with title, author, and time/date information, along with a count of how many times the photo has been viewed or favorited, and the number of comments. In our testing, however, this part of Klick’s interface caused the app to crash on several occasions, and because it doesn’t offer any way to sort the results (particularly in Nearby), users in urban areas could see the screen become so crowded that it becomes unusable, while others may end up seeing the same photos numerous times. The standard photo slideshow/viewing interface is slick if not exactly standard, with quick shortcuts for viewing/adding comments, a one-tap button for favoriting, and the ability to flick through photos a la the Photos app, something not offered in the majority of its competitors.
Uploading is slightly buggy, and caused the app to crash on occasion, along with one complete restart. Otherwise, the uploading interface is straightforward; the user is given a preview image above the title, description, and tag entry areas, something that is currently unique to Klick and we feel should be added to all Flickr uploading programs. Below the text entry areas is the Location option, which lets you move a marker to provide more accurate geotagging information — in our testing with an iPhone 3G, the app was off by a couple blocks when indoors and a few hundred feet outdoors without changing this setting; older iPhone and iPod touch users may find greater discrepancies. Photos taken with the camera are uploaded at full resolution. Outside the app, Klick also has a menu in the iPhone’s general Settings menu, which allows users to remember tags and auto-rotate photos; this setting is off by default, something we feel should be changed.
Overall, Klick’s neat map view feature and slick photo viewing interface are offset by its lack of browsing options, which is the result of a poor interface decision. That aside, the app does work fairly well; it has only minimal bugs, offers solid uploading features, and sports one of the coolest features we found in any Flickr iPhone app. With its free price tag, it’s definitely worth checking out, but without an overhaul to its navigation interface, it will remain the second-best full-featured Flickr app, at least until something better comes along.