If you are the sort of shutterbug who enjoys a collective social experience, a new app, Flock - Photos Together (not to be confused with the now defunct social web browser) offers a super simple photo sharing solution. It requires that you and your circle of friends have iPhones and Facebook accounts, but if everyone does and you’ve been on a group outing or to a party there is no better way to get those snaps off of all those iOS devices and into a shared album. Best of all, Flock doesn’t need – or even want – you to stop what you’re doing to upload those pictures. It doesn’t have its own camera, much less editing option and filters. Instead, the app runs in the background using minimal battery power, and teamed with the iOS photo location API quietly accrues metadata for any photo saved from any camera app. Later, it reminds you with a push notification that your pictures are ready to upload.
Like the developer’s flagship app, Bump, the idea here is to let people focus on interacting with each other, rather than with their smartphones in social settings. Where Bump allows iPhone users to share contact info with a literal coming together of hardware rather than fumbling to create manual entries in your contacts list, Flock allows its users to just snap away without worrying about sharing those pictures in real time or risk of forgetting about them later.
The app pre-populates an album based on each specific event, reminds you that it’s there and lets you weed-out the pictures you don’t like. Then, it uploads them and sends push notices to Facebook friends who appear in your snaps asking them to add their own photos too with an ingenuous UI that encourages users to forget it’s even there. The idea is “you tell two [or 200] friends and they tell two friends and so on and so on…” until you’ve all got one, complete communal album.
The app works as advertised with a light touch and almost magical simplicity. The only trouble right now is that all your friends have to be using Flock too. As with most new social services, it takes time for the buzz to reach those outside the tech-hipster sphere and gain a large, diverse user base. And, being iOS only, your Android and Windows Phones friends won’t to be able to get in on the action just yet.