app review: color = better concept than execution

Say you’re getting ready to host an alumni reunion or open house event, and you’d like your visitors to create a community-driven photo album. This is, in theory, possible with the Color geosocial photo application. But good luck making it work easily.

Ed Tatton of Westchester Community College and Greg Kie of SUNY Canton talked a few of us attending the SUNYCUAD Conference earlier this month into trying to create just such a photo album. You’d think people who work in web communication and/or social media for a living could figure this out with little difficulty. Ah, not so much.

The resulting community album (see active view. above right) took a lot of work. Taking the picture is easy enough: Just open the app and click on the color wheel (center button, colored when you’re in camera mode). But for a social application, the real difficulty comes when you try to get, you know, social.

For what seemed like an hour, about a half-dozen people who work on the web for a living had great difficulty creating a community album. I created any number of albums no one could join and that I couldn’t delete. Finally, after seemingly doing the same thing over and over, something worked and suddenly we had a shared album. You can see the results of a couple of days of fiddling at right. As for the buttons along the bottom: The map icon stands for “take photos together” (if you can figure out how to do it), the globe means “see all your albums” (for a globe?), the color wheel means take the picture, the calendar means “view your albums by day” and the envelope means “messages you’ve received” (i.e. likes and comments).

Note that you cannot friend anyone for a permanent relationship, which — given the appeal of enriched connections in social media — seems an oversight. After you take a photo, you can press a paper-airplane icon to share it by Twitter, Facebook, e-mail or SMS. Yes, that’s OR, not and.

Looking at Instragram, which I consider a great geosocial photo app, the competition isn’t even close. Instagram encourages you to find and friend contacts, and offers easy ways to do so. When you take a picture, you can share it simultaneously via Twitter, Facebook, e-mail, Flickr, Tumblr, Foursquare AND Posterous (if you want). While the geolocation feature with Instagram is still buggy for me, you can create an album via hashtag — as the #pancaketweetup album at right shows. Instragram’s menu includes helpful words that break things down very simply: Feed, Popular, Share, News and Profile, and submenus are intuitive as well. Interaction via comments and likes are very easy.

All apps have to start somewhere, and Color does bring a good concept to the table. That it is difficult to come together at that table with others is unfortunate — since connections and content are the currency of social media — but maybe the app’s developers will figure a way for its execution to improve.

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3 Comments

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3 responses to “app review: color = better concept than execution

  1. just a few notes. The Android (gingerbread) version of Color has “delete photo” “flag as inappropiate” features it does not have a share icon or at least one that i have found. Crazy i know. It has the globe to view a timeline the color wheel to take a picture and then what appears to be a take photo together icon represented by what looks like sound waves pumping from thin air. I think the idea was to eliminate the need for connections by automatically grouping the photos into albums by location and time they were taken. If you are out with your friends and you are using color you will all have access to the photos that were taken that night instantly…. it’s getting to the point where the App connects to other color Apps nearby that is the problem. Not to mention the confusing interface.

  2. I see my kid in your post!

    Also, I am excited about creating photo albums in Instagram. How do I do that??

  3. Tim Nekritz

    ED: You’re so far ahead of me on this, I bow to your knowledge. And I totally forgot to respond for whatever reason, but then your observations stand by themselves as great points.

    ALAINA: He’s famous! That album is actually what I got when I clicked on the #pancaketweetup hashtag on one of the Instagram images. So it’s dynamic in and of itself; I haven’t found a way to create an album in other ways. But when I discovered that, I was quite happy.

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