The proliferation of social networking sites has turned the Internet into a lightning-speed conduit that transmits stream of social data in real-time. We share fragments of our daily lives with a virtual circle of friends in Facebook or Twitter, or perhaps in the brand new Google+. Last.Fm and Imeem lets us create playlists and share them with our friends. We put together galleries of captivating images and share them in Flickr.
The lack of appealing mobile photo sharing features from these social services has attracted a number of tech entrepreneurs to create a mirage of social photo sharing services. There has been a boom in iPhone-only photo sharing apps, such as Instagram and Path, that want to capitalize on the ever-improving mobile camera. PicPlz exist in the same ecosystem, but instead of just providing services to iPhone users, PicPlz aims to become a full-fledged photo sharing service. PicPlz is not an iPhone-only app. Instead, it’s a photo sharing service that lets you share stylish pictures from your iPhone, Android device, or directly from your browser.
A Quick Tour around PicPlz
You can create a PicPlz account through your Facebook or Twitter account, and PicPlz will suggest people that you can follow based from your existing friend lists. If you are not on any of these services, you can download a free mobile application, and create an account from your phone.
Once you have created an acccount, you can can start uploading your pictures. While Instagram and Path only gives their service to iPhone users, PicPlz opens their service to both iPhone and Android users, and even those who don’t have Android or iPhone. This is one of the biggest things we like about PicPlz: PC and web users aren’t left behind!
You can upload as many pictures as you want, and apply filters to your pictures. Sometimes, you might realize that you want to keep your original photo. Don’t worry, PicPlz has you covered. It saves both your filtered picture and the original, unedited picture directly to your online account. This is another feature that sets PicPlz apart from Instagram.
Its elegant website reminded us of the simplicity of Twitter in its early days. You’ll see snapshots from whom you are following displayed on your home page. PicPlz surfaces comments, and organizes them into real-time conversation, just like a timeline in Twitter. If you discover a picture that catches your attention, you can like it, or post comments. PicPlz gives you incentive for liking a picture, too. Every time you like a picture, PicPlz will introduce you to those who liked your photos, and feature other photos that they like.
Last.Fm has playlists that let you group songs; PicPlz has collections that let you create shared photo albums with other PicPlz users. Creating collections is easy. Just pick a photo that you like, your own or ones from other people, and add them to your own collections. You can then share your favorite shots with the world in a curated list.
Setting up Your Account
Once you have setup your picture gallery, you plenty of options for sharing them.You can share them on Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, Tumblr, Posterous, or Foursquare. Sharing has never been easier. In fact, it’s just as easy to share stylish pictures from your browser as it is to share them from Instagram on your iPhone.
Before you can do that, though, you need to setup your account. Go through each setting, making sure that you’re okay with what you see there. You can add a profile picture to your account directly by snapping a new shot from your webcam, or just select one of the pictures you’ve uploaded. Once you adjust those basic options, head over to the connections tab. This is where you choose where you want to post your pictures to.
You might want to tweak how often PicPlz notifies you of new activities on your network so you don’t get overwhelmed with emails.
Have we mentioned to you that PicPlz gives you seamless integration with DropBox? More and more web applications are connecting to DropBox, and PicPlz is one of them. Once you take a snapshot, you’ll have the option to upload it to Dropbox. This is a great way to make sure your pictures are saved forever on your own computer, not just on a web service that could potentially go offline. Even if you don’t overly trust Dropbox’ security, it’s still fine for syncing pictures you were sharing online anyhow.
Your snapshots are yours, and PicPlz recognizes that you should be able to control how others use your photos. PicPlz gives the option to protect your photos with creative common licences. Open the Pic Licensing tab, and you can select one out of eight licencing option to protect your pictures. This is a popular option on Flickr, but isn’t very common on newer photo sharing sites. After the TwitPic fiasco, we’re glad to see a service focus on maintaining your rights and helping you keep your pictures yours forever.
I was not able to test the iPhone app, but the Android app worked great. It only took merely seconds for us to see a gallery of what’s trending in PicPlz network. The home screen gives us quick access to every part of PicPlz. If you want to see what your friend is doing, tap the activity button, and you’ll see their pictures. Tapping the camera button immediately opens the camera, and once you’ve got that picture you want, pick the filter that you like, and you got yourself a PicPlz picture ready to share with the world.
As much as we love PicPlz, it’s a fledgling within the circle of photo sharing services. Those of you who have Flickr might miss its search features that let you find pictures with so many different options. Not to mention that you can store different size of pictures, and disable photo downloads.
However, rest assure, PicPlz team is working hard, rolling out new features and refining its services at this very moment. If you want to take a peek at what they are working on, check out their blog for updates. On the outside, PicPlz might look like another Instagram, but once you dig deeper,you’ll find a new and improved way for sharing pictures on the Internet. Whenever you take snapshots, PicPlz makes it easy for you to share your photos online. It’s exciting to see a service like this offer all of its features to web users, and we hope more mobile developers keep desktop users in mind when they’re designing their services.