Flickr's mobile Web site hasn't traditionally been in step with its popular Web app. A fresh lick of paint and some API work under the hood brings the two experiences much closer in line.
On Thursday, Yahoo-owned Flickr pushed out a very worthwhile upgrade to its mobile-optimized site, m.flickr.com.
Video streaming is the big draw. As on Flickr.com since last April, anyone accessing Flickr from an iPhone or iPod Touch can play videos hosted on Flickr's servers. In a few weeks, Flickr will unlock this capability for anyone using a Webkit, Opera Mobile (but not Mini), for Firefox Mobile browser.
Of course, only pro subscriber members can upload videos at this point, each capped at 90 seconds in length and treated as a "long photo" rather than as a video per se.
In addition to getting video on board, Flickr has also reorganized the mobile home screen. Its freshly buffed layout now grants quick access to the activity feed, friends' recent uploads, and to the daily crop of hand-picked photos.
You'll also now be able to do maintenance work, like add contacts, mark images as favorites, adjust privacy settings, and browse interesting photos, all basic stuff that Flickr's mobile site should have already allowed. Nevertheless, we're happy to see it now.
Flickr's new mobile site worked great during testing, though its performance is limited by the strength of your data connection and video playback may as well be useless in Edge territory. There are also a few features that Flickr is leaving to third-party developers of native apps, like a quick way to take and update photos and video (where supported) within the app interface itself.
The changes, big and small, will better serve the 50 percent more visitors browsing Flickr photos from their phones, and will go a long way to making Flickr a more unified service from any outlet. The upgrade may also give Yahoo a boost of consumer confidence in the face of its recently sagging fortunes.