Exploring Flickr on Your iPhone and iPad

As a photographer and designer, Flickr is definitely one of my favorite websites. The collection of talent there is astounding and is truly inspirational to anyone in the creative field. Every single day the site is bursting with fresh, beautiful content for you to enjoy.

Today we’re going to take a look at one great way to get your daily dose of Flickr on any iOS device: Explore Flickr. We’ll walk you through exactly what the app does and whether or not you should purchase the in-app upgrade.

The Gist

The first thing to keep in mind when you download Explore Flickr is that it’s a simple app. This definitely isn’t an attempt to take all the glory of Flickr and put it on your iPhone, rather it’s a great way to get quick doses of photographical goodness. One bonus is that the app is universal, so it looks great on both the iPhone and iPad.


iPad and iPhone screenshots of Explore Flickr

When you first open the app, you’ll be taken to today’s Explore. This is a constantly updated collection of “interesting” photos put together by the folks at Flickr, the app merely grabs that collection for you to see.

The Free Version

Explore Flickr is a free download, but straight out of the box it really doesn’t do much: you simply get a grid of photos from the Explore collection. As you watch, the tiles in the grid begin to flip over to reveal new pictures, but there’s no other way to scroll through and get more content.

If you tap on a photo, you can see the large version along with its associated tags. From here you can swipe back and forth to view the previous and following photos.


A fullscreen image

That really is all you get. It’s simple, fun and free, but a bit limited. Which is why there’s an optional $4.99 upgrade.

The Upgrade

$4.99 gets you an in-app upgrade that gives you a few much-needed features. The first is the ability to view the content in a slideshow. This is an excellent feature that really makes the app useful. Simply launch the app, throw your iPad on a stand, and you’ve got a constantly updating picture frame, full of stylish content.


Slideshows and tags are activated with the upgrade

Another premium feature shown in the shot above is the interactive tags on images. The tags are there in the free version but you can’t tap on them to see other images with the same tag, with the premium version you can. Alternatively, the upgrade also allows you to run a search on any keywords you’re interested in. Below I ran a search for “toucan” and received some beautiful results.




Explore Flickr also has a button at the top that allows you to save the image to your device or view it on Flickr. Unfortunately, the former option is often useless due to usage rights. This isn’t a limitation of the app so much as it is just how Flickr works. As a work around you can always view the image fullscreen and take a screenshot.


Saving an image is often a restricted action

My Thoughts

First of all, I want to say that this is a great little app. If you just want to check out the Flickr Explore page every day, I can’t think of a better way to do it than the free version of Explore Flickr on an iPad. The experience is both stunning and enjoyable.

That said, I can’t quite decide how I feel about the upgrade. On one hand, it’s a simple app that’s meant to be simple and I definitely both appreciate and enjoy that. On the other hand, it’s hard to justify paying $4.99 for searching and slideshows when there are apps like Flickr Stackr that offer so much more for less money.

I would advise the developer to consider rolling all of the current features into the free version while adding some truly premium features in the upgrade. This could include the ability to view exif data, find specific users, zoom in and out of images, apply an adult content filter (your Explore slideshow can get embarrassing if mom walks in), search and view groups, share photos via social media, etc. These are the kinds of features you expect to get for $4.99.


As I said above, since Explore Flickr is free, you should go download it right away if you have any interest in Flickr. Whether or not you purchase the upgrade is going to be your call. It definitely increases the app’s value but maybe not to an equivalent level of the purchase price.

Fans of Flickr should also definitely check out the free official Flickr iPhone app, which lets you view, search and even upload photos to your Flickr account.


An awesome and simple way to view the Flickr Explore content. The upgrade price is a little steep for the basic features that you receive from it.