Color app still leaves me wondering, even after update

Am I wrong to assume that everyone with an iPhone knows about Color? Judging by the blank stares received from my iPhone-toting friends, the answer is yes.

Color is the geolocation social network and photo-sharing app that has been making headlines for its $41 million investment and UI snafus. The application, available for iPhone and Android, is a combination of social networking and photo sharing. Once you take a photo using Color, it is automatically added to a group album along with pictures taken by anyone within 150 feet of you. So lets say you’re at a concert and managed to get up to the front row. Not only will you see your picture appear, but also pictures that people took from the second, fifth and seventh rows.

Upon launch, many people were left feeling underwhelmed and confused. For an app that received so much hype and investment, users expected to at least know how to use it. The UI was not intuitive at all – if I have to spend more than a minute trying to figure out how to use it, chances of me returning are slim.

I downloaded Color a few days after it launched, but I wasn’t really able to test it out until weeks later. That’s not to say I wasn’t trying, but people at my office weren’t really snapping pictures in their cubes, you know? I recently attended an event and a few other app enthusiasts asked if anyone had heard of Color. Immediately we whipped out our phones so we could finally see the app in action. We all snapped pictures of the atmosphere and watched for them to appear on our phones. One, two, three pictures later, we were underwhelmed. “That’s it?” I heard one friend say.

Our use of the app caught on, but not for the right reasons. It became apparent that Color wasn’t easy to understand, and not just from a UI perspective.

Privacy

Color has been very up front about the lack of privacy and suggests users who do not agree stop using their service. They collect everything from your email address and unique identifier on your device to your pictures, videos and comments shared through the device. The content you create in-app is shared with others. But some were under the impression that by using Color, you’re granting access to your entire photo library. I’m not convinced that this is true. And while the amount of information collected is a little off-putting, no one is forcing you to use it.

Value

Cult of Mac has a theory that the technology used will probably be purchased by one of the big dogs, like Google, and integrated into another product. I don’t doubt that. As for me, I’m still torn on whether or not I find any value in using it. I can see the potential – I’m a picture collector and love capturing memories. It’s great not having to hound friends to share pictures they took from last night’s party. With that said, after my friends and I tested Color, we continued using Twitter and Instagram as ways to share our photos from the evening, never returning to the app.

I check Color here and there to see if anyone nearby is using it, but I haven’t found anyone else – at least not any strangers. Some users have complained of reliability issues, meaning that they were unable to pick up another user who was 5-10 feet away from them. I haven’t run into this issue yet.

Since its launch, Color has released a major update that addressed many complaints. Most notably, UI improvements – updated icons and clearer in-app navigation – and stability and speed improvements.

Over the last few weeks, I’ve done a bit of traveling and attended a few popular tourist locations, sporting events, as well as smaller get-togethers with friends. I made sure to check Color and was disappointed to see that no one else was sharing. I believe that given the right circumstances, I could really learn to rely on Color for sharing and collecting purposes, but for now, it’s not my go-to app. My Instagram feed has never been more active though.

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