Flickr's not being lazy about its commanding position in the photo-upload game, and it's soon due to roll out a list of new features. The upgrades have just started, though, with a new photo showcase page with some significant new powers.
As announced on the site's official blog, the updated page is all about building, "a better showcase for your photos." These changes will be welcomed by Flickr's millions of users. The service has long been a fabulous place to store and share images, but Flick'r's tricky and ugly UI makes it a less appealing place to showcase images. Erstwhile Flickr competitor DeviantArt has long had a slicker interface for displaying work, making it a useful online "shop window" for professional photographers.
Some of the changes to Flickr are subtle: The photo's titles, for example, will be displayed a little closer to the actual image to better connect the two in the mind and the photo previews will now be a little larger, at 640 pixels wide. The site's "film strip" navigation viewing system now works more intuitively, with other photos from the same set now surrounding the one you're currently viewing. Some of the controls have also been "tidied up" so that they're less distracting when you're viewing the photos, and now appear in an "actions" drop-down menu.
But there are two new features that could more radically transform how you view Flickr. First, is its new lightbox option in which one click previews a photo against a decluttered UI with a black background--similar in some ways to the features in Adobe's Lightroom or Apple's Aperture. It's an attractive way to demonstrate photos as a pro-looking online gallery. Then there's an update to the "favorites" option, integrating news of a favoriting action into the comments feed beneath images; in one swoop this turns Flickr's comments into more of a Facebook status feed affair. It may even be seen as a hint that Flickr has more "social net"-like tweaks to come.
You can check out a preview of this new design by logging in and "follow the directions at the top of [any] image," as Flickr's blog usefully notes.