-- Flickr's making it easier to stay connected with a brand new mobile site being debuted Thursday. The revamped m.flickr.com brings a refreshed design and a handful of new features, including mobile video playback for some Flickr users.
First, the reality check: The new Flickr mobile won't work with all cell phones. The enhanced features are limited to devices with "advanced browsers." The list is pretty extensive, though -- if you have an iPhone, an iPod Touch, an Android phone, or a device with Opera Mobile, Firefox Mobile, or another WebKit-based browser, you're golden. Otherwise, you'll be limited to basic functionality.
The video playback feature is currently available only on the iPhone and iPod Touch, though Flickr promises to roll out support to the other "advanced browser" platforms in the very near future.
As for mobile video uploading, it follows the model introduced on the regular Flickr site and is available only to "pro" subscribers, with a 90-second cap placed on all uploaded clips.
A Full Makeover
The rest of the Flickr mobile revamp features an updated and more user-friendly menu system with more focus on social features. Your activity stream is beefed up and accessible right from the home screen. Flickr mobile will also now let you comment on and favorite photos from your phone -- an option missing from the past design. It makes contact management a bit more intuitive, too, letting you add contacts and easily view friends' recently uploaded photos. Privacy settings are now accessible from the mobile site as well.
Flickr's modernized interface aims to make submitting pictures simpler with a new built-in way to add Flickr directly into your address book. Once you do that, you can just drop a mobile photo into an e-mail, tap in the "Flickr" address, and hit send. And if you've got nothing interesting to show, the retooled Flickr mobile brings the day's top public photos to your fingertips so you can find something to see.
Mobile Photo Growth
Flickr's motivation for expanding its mobile space makes sense. The Yahoo-owned company says it's seen a 50 percent increase in usage over the past year, and it's not alone. Recent numbers from data measurement firm ComScore indicate mobile photo messaging jumped 60 percent in the U.S. this past year. In a somewhat surprising twist, the group with the highest percentage of growth wasn't teenagers, either -- it was adults aged 45-54.
Flickr seems to have some catching up to do, too, judging by its traffic. A ComScore study ranked Flickr at 18.3 million U.S. visitors per month in July, behind Facebook Photos at 25.4 million and Photobucket at 23.5 million. Google's Picasa came in last with 8.3 million monthly U.S. visitors.
Yahoo is currently looking at testing an open source approach to Flickr in the future, another move that could set it apart from the competition in the world of photo sharing.