Comparing the Best iPad Photo Apps—Edited vs Public Stream



Last week I came across the new iPad app Flickr Photo Map (Flickr btw didn’t release it) that displays photos that are geo tagged inside of Flickr. I really like how it has changed how I explore Flickr on my iPad and thought it would be a good exercise to compare it with my other favouriet iPad photo app—Thomson Reuters Galleries. The glue is that both apps display images though one is a public feed while the other is an edited collection updated daily.

By far the best feature to me is the fact that it takes galleries that are already on the web and makes the visual experience even better on the iPad. The images load fast and can be viewed full screen. Spending ten minutes on the edited galleries of any given day gives a viewer a pretty good idea what’s going on in the World. It’s not grabbing every story but it still sheds light on a lot of world events. The catch of course is that the images are selected and edited so of the millions of images taken over a week a person is seeing only a small fraction.

The home screen displays a number of current galleries along with a couple slightly older ones. As far as I can tell there isn’t any way on the app to find stuff that might be older than a couple weeks—I still have to go to the web site for that. I also have no filter control so I can’t decide to see more images or dive deep into any one section. I also have no where else to go once I’ve finished one set. If I make it through an entire set the chances of me wanting to see more images related is pretty high. But for a free app I can’t really complain too much. If I had more controls, had the ability to save favorite images & galleries and was able to zoom in, I’d probably pay a monthly subscription. Of course if I end up waiting for images to load I probably wouldn’t pay.

I’ve been complaining for a while that Flickr has done nothing with the iPad. They still haven’t but one person has taken their api and started displaying Flickr geo tagged images on a map. The app is far from perfect but I’ve found myself drawn more and more to it. The biggest issue is that a viewer thinks their seeing images viewed in real time—which it isn’t. The same set always loads when a person turns on the app. However there are filters such as tags, text, place and username that allows for control. I’ve found that if I tweak some of the controls I can get a decent date range. While it isn’t real time I can get a good sense of what has happened in the past couple of days.

My favourite feature is zooming into an area. As I zoomed into particular cities and streets it was amazing to see what photos had been taken. I visited old cities I used to live in, where I currently live and places I might not ever visit. The iPad is the perfect display unit for maps with images. Comparing the app experience with Flickr on the web in the context of geo, there was no comparison.

Ironically the weakest part of the app is trying to see an actual image in full screen. The natural tendency is to expect a larger image once a finger is pressed on it. However what does happen is a thin dialog box appears with the text that corresponds with the image. The idea is ok but the reading experience isn’t good at all. The only way to see a larger image is to press on the “i” button at the end of the text. Once pressed the image become bigger with the same text below. This is the pop up I would have expected with a previous press, not two presses. However with that pop up open a person has the ability to visit the Flickr page of the photo. Again the experience is perfect but comparing to the web there’s really no parallel that I’ve explored with.

They’re really hard to compare feature to feature because they’re system of selecting images is completely different. The fun thing to do is take some of the best features in each and try to combine them. Being able to explore Reuters via geo would be pretty cool plus allow more galleries to be displayed, for the Flickr map if I could see collections of what people had favorited would be a great daily and weekly experience. Both of those systems would balance the need for a streaming feed while giving real people a chance to decide what is worth viewing.

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  • Tyler White

    Thanks for this excellent review! I created Flickr Photo Map and your feedback is mucho appreciated! I’ll take heed to your suggestions and see what I can do for the next update. Until then, get the app here:



  • andykeating

    For photo app, you can’t go wrong with Sort Shots. It brings the power of tagging to your photo collection; once you get everything set up you’ll be able to find exactly what you’re looking for in just a couple of taps. I highly recommend this app to anyone trying to get their photos organized.