September 23, 2008

iPhone Application Review: Mobile Fotos

By Phil Glockner of Scribkin (FriendFeed/Twitter)

Author's Note: Louis and I share an interest in the iPhone / iPod Touch platform, and all the new applications being developed for it for release on the iTunes Store. Realizing this, I offered to write a series of 'mini-reviews' on applications I really like, and if applicable, their impact on the social media space. I'm going to start with Mobile Fotos, an application developed by Karl van Randow, a freelance New Zealand developer who has (according to his blog) been actively working on a 'web debugging proxy' called Charles.

Mobile Fotos

Mobile Fotos, like several others in the iTunes store, specializes in connecting the iPhone and iPod Touch to Flickr, a popular photo-sharing web site. While I tried several others but I found Mobile Fotos to be the most feature-complete and easiest to use. The application costs $2.99, and there is no 'free version' available. However, I believe it is well worth this small price, considering its functionality.

  • Mobile Fotos Uses the Flickr API and supports authentication with the Flickr server.
  • Flickr sets, groups, favorites, tags, contacts, photo search and explore by most recent and 'interestingness' are supported. Collections (groups of groups) and historical display are not supported.
  • Uploading from the iPhone 'camera roll' archive and from a live picture are supported.
  • Photos taken from within Mobile Fotos are also stored in the camera roll.
  • Adding a title and description as well as adding a new photo to an existing set (or creating a new set) are supported at time of photo upload.
  • Geotagging of photos after upload is supported, and controllable for each upload.
  • With the 2.1 firmware update, uploading from the camera roll at full resolution (1200x1600) is supported.
  • Easy-to-use interface follows a rigorous 'drill-down' methodology that, once learned, makes navigating through all the different browsing options very easy.
  • Portrait and landscape modes.
  • Searching for nearby photos using GPS is supported.
I should also mention some drawbacks I have encountered.

First, when browsing through photos at full size, the interface does not support 'sliding' a finger to navigate. You must click on a right or left arrow to move forward or back. Second, there is no batch upload feature. Photos can only be uploaded one at a time.


In practice, the one photo upload is not as much of a limitation as you might think. First, when you are out and about, you generally only need to take a photo, set a description and get it started. By the time you are ready to set up another shot, it is ready.

As for using the application as a mobile gateway to Flickr, the developer has gone to great pains to preserve the sort of free-form exploration that makes Flickr such fun to waste time in. You can search for a tag, for example, then bring up details on the photo, click on the photo's owner and then browse through their photostream, favorites or even their contact's photos. Each level you delve down is pushed on to a stack so that you can back up whenever you like.

Performance on both WiFi and 3G is very snappy. Uploading only takes a few seconds and pulling up photostreams and images is almost instant. If you use the app on the slower GSM network, be prepared to wait a while, especially for full-sized photo uploads.


Mobile Fotos has become a valued tool for me when I only have my cell phone on-hand to take a picture and I want to get it on Flickr right away. Sure, there may be a few free apps will do this without geotagging. But, considering all the other features that are in this app, it is worth the three bucks.

Update: The latest version of Mobile Photos (version 1.3) adds support for 'swiping' through a photostream, as well as support for uploading from the full iPhone photo library. There also seems to be double the number of options that can be performed when viewing an image fullsize, and new even on a thumbnail, including assign to contact, open in Safari, email a link, and even Twitter support!

Read more by Phil Glockner at