App Piictu is a new social photography network that launched for iPhone and camera-equipped iPod Touch last week. Its developers have promised the app has the best photo UI available (or they’ll buy you a beer) and although I appreciate a company having such faith in its product, Piictu has its work cut out to succeed.
Dubbed a social game, you’ll need a Piictu account, creatable in-app, before you can join in. Piictu asks users to snap and post photos to the network, and once they appear, other users can send photo replies. By browsing the popular and latest tabs, you’ll be able to see active photo conversations and contribute your own images to the timeline. Topics are decided by users, so you’ll find a range of subjects, such as the self-explanatory adorable dogs or pics from the car to albums like “It’s your turn,” a collection of Words With Friends screenshots.
Posting a photo isn’t tricky, however, you might be unsure if your image is headed to the right location. If you post from the main screen, your image will start a new photo stream (there’s nothing to denote this), and whatever you write about the photo will become the stream’s name. If you are viewing a photo collection and post a photo through that page, your image will be added to the group. Again, there’s nothing that specifies this, but luckily you can delete an image by swiping if you accidentally post to the wrong place. You can take live images, or you can pull from the camera roll, which is accessible through the button named “Gallery.” When you post a photo, you can mention other users within the tags or upload the image directly to Facebook and Twitter.
When you open a photo stream, you can add it to your following list through the lower right icon, or you can follow the topic’s creator. If someone posts a photo you like, you can tap through to his or her profile to see other images that person has posted. Considering how social Piictu claims to be, I was surprised at the limited interaction available with other users. Aside from uploading photos to existing streams or tapping the heart to favorite an image, users can’t converse with others via comments or messages. Piictu’s users have creatively circumvented this issue by taking screen shots of Notepad or other text editors displaying their comments. You’ll also be able to see which users have liked photos you’ve posted, but you won’t be able to directly access their profiles to return the heart. Perhaps the strangest omission is that Piictu doesn’t offer a search function. If you see a topic you want to keep track of, make sure you immediately add it to your following, lest it disappear into the ether.
Although I liked Piictu’s interface, I experienced severe crashing as well as multiple timeouts. Piictu has a struggle ahead. Its similarities to Instagram are clear, and that app’s mega-popularity will be a serious roadblock for Piictu’s growth.