Flock: Social Photo Sharing Made Easy

If you’ve ever been out with your friends and heard the cry, “Send me that picture right now!” followed by a chorus of agreement, you know that iPhone photo sharing on the go isn’t all it could be. As you and your friends take pictures, and everyone wants the pictures everyone else is taking, you may have become frustrated with the lack of options for social photo sharing or just wished there was a better way to get it done.

Flock is trying to be that better way. By connecting you to your friends via photo albums on your own closed social network exclusively for photo sharing, Flock lets you send and receive photos from your friends right away, without having to create a giant email list or post it all to Facebook. We’ll take a look at how it all works and find out if Flock really is a better photo sharing option for your friends after the jump. 

Joining Your Flock of Friends

Flock uses your location, the date your pictures were taken and your Facebook friends list to match up your pictures and your friends’ pictures. You’ll be asked to login with Facebook the first time you open Flock, because the app wants to match you up to your friends who are already using the app. Once connected, Flock automatically adds your friends for you.

Don’t worry about Flock adding a bunch of Facebook “friends” to whom you never actually speak; you’ll only connect on Flock if you’ve taken pictures together. Once Flock finds your friends, it’ll let you know if you already have any pictures you can share. If you do, you’ll be encouraged to add them to your friends’ albums. Though great, you’ve probably already uploaded all of your pictures from New Year’s Eve to Facebook already, and your friends have probably gotten their fill of pictures of you waving sparklers around before setting your hair on fire.

Finding friends on Flock and viewing common albums.

Finding friends on Flock and viewing common albums.

Once you and your friends are all using Flock, you really start putting it to good use, creating albums of new photos. When you and your friends are together, and you take some pictures and your friends take some pictures, the next time each of you opens Flock, the app will know that all of those pictures on those different iPhones go together. The plus sign in the upper right will turn orange, letting you know you have new pictures to share.

Tap the Plus sign to get into the sharing screen. At the top of the screen, you’ll see the date and the location the pictures you’re sharing were taken. If you’d like to share all of your pictures, just tap the Share button in the upper right. There will be a number in parentheses to let you know how many pictures you’re sharing.

Choosing pictures to share and the newly created album.

Choosing pictures to share and the newly created album.

If some of the photos didn’t turn out right or you just don’t want to share everything with the group, you can deselect whichever ones you don’t like. Now tap the Share button in the upper right. The count will be updated to reflect the pictures you’ve decided to keep hidden. Be careful — once a photo is added to a Flock album, you can’t remove it.

Sharing with Flock

It’s great to have all of the pictures shared in the Flock gallery, but if you can’t download each others photos, what’s the point? Luckily, you can. Just tap on the album you want to download from. You’ll have to open each picture individually, as Flock doesn’t allow you to download an entire album, presumably to prevent you downloading a bunch of your own pictures.

If there were friends at the gathering who either didn’t contribute pictures to the album or don’t have Flock, you can still share the Flock album with them. Beneath each album in your stream, you can tap Share This Album, which will allow you to send a link to the album via text or email or post it to Facebook. The link will take users without the Flock app to an album on the Flock website, where they can view each picture or download the entire album.

Viewing a Flock album and sharing it with friends.

Viewing a Flock album and sharing it with friends.

I also found that if your friend does have Flock, all they have to do is take a picture at the same time in the same place to be included in the Flock album. The picture doesn’t have to be shared, though Flock will prompt him to upload the picture to the album. Even without doing so, he’ll still have the same access to the album as the sharers, just by having taken a picture with his Flock-using friends.

You can like and comment on your friends photos, and everyone with access to the album will be notified each time. Because you can create comment threads on a single picture, but only your friends have access, Flock becomes like a closed social network. It can also get really annoying as well, to get twenty notifications at once when someone goes through and likes an entire album’s contents, so whether you keep the notifications turned on is up to you.

Unfortunately, there’s no Twitter integration. I’d love to be able to share my albums on Twitter without first having to grab the link out of a text message or email. I don’t get why Twitter was so completely forgotten when the Facebook integration is so complete. It doesn’t make any sense to me, and it’s something I hope is reversed in later updates.


I’ve so often been out with friends and wished there was an easier way to share our group photos. Facebook isn’t private enough, especially when we’re quickly posting pictures from the mobile app, and email after the fact is just too long to wait. Flock solves this problem. We can share our photos, just amongst ourselves, right in the moment. Never again will you hear the clarion call to text that photo you just took to the seven people standing around you. Flock has that all wrapped up, making photo sharing amongst friends both easy and intuitive.


Share your photos with friends.