Hands on: Google's new Pool Party photo sharing app for iPhone

Pool Party is a photo sharing from the brains behind the recently-aquired Slide. Like Google+, it's an invite-only beta right now, and like Google+, and Picasa, it allows you to quickly and easily share pictures with people you know who are also members. Why Google feels they need to be positively Microsoft-ian about the sheer number of overlapping image sharing services they offer right now, I don't know, but here's how they bill this one:

Instant photo fun

Pool Party is a simple, free photo sharing app. Create group albums and see your friends' photos as they happen in real-time.

Pool Party is invite-only at the moment, so you'll be asked to enter your email address after installing the app. If you haven't already been invited to Pool Party by a friend, you can visit our website at poolpartyapp.com to request an invitation.

I've been testing Pool Party for iPhone with Phil Nickinson from Android Central, who's putting the Android version through its paces and... it's got a lot of promise. The UI is dark, with big, bold white text. (Though they insist on color-coding your friends' names, which is ends up feeling very Christmas tree.) They also stick to tried and true UI metaphors (even, smartly, borrowing the now almost standard "pull to refresh" pioneered by Loren Brichter in Tweetie/Twitter for iPhone).

Organization is done in Pools, and one you add a a Pool you can add people to it. For those who thrive on such things, push notifications are included to keep you up to date on every little interaction imaginable (I turned them off, like I turned off Google+'s email notifications). There are also a couple prominent places to provide feedback, so it's clear the developers and designers want to make this a good experience.

This being Google, there's also a web interface for when you're away from your iPhone (or Android device).

Whether or not this ultimately takes any users away from established image sharing services like Flickr, Facebook, Instagram, or Google own services, new and old, like Picasa and Google+ remains to be seen. It's great to see Google trying things and fantastic to see them working on improving their user experience. Ultimately, however, it will be nice to see them coalesce into a single, coherent, consistent service.

Screenshots after the break. If want more on the background story, MG Siegler from TechCrunch broke it yesterday (link below).


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