Piclens: Photo Browsing Enhanced


PicLens is an add-on for Firefox, Internet Explorer and Safari that will change the way you interact with a lot of websites. The add-on is currently compatible with Flickr, Photobucket, Picasa Web Albums, DeviantArt, Smugmug, Facebook, MySpace, Bebo, Hi5, Friendster, Google Images, Yahoo Images, Ask Images, Live Images, and AOL Images.

These screen captures really don’t do PicLens justice. You really have to see it to believe it. (Here’s a brief walkthrough on how PicLens works in Firefox.)

Browsing PicLens

piclens_browsingBrowsing is initiated by clicking on a little “play” button that will appear upon hover over images in the various supported services. Clicking this button will launch PicLens full-screen where you can start browsing through your images in a 3D environments. Thumbnails appeared very quickly, even on my Dell Inspiron 6000 (1.6GHz Pentium M, 1.5Gb RAM). In the example to the left, I was only previewing a small set of photos in my Flickr stream, but it worked well when I used it to browse through my entire photo collection.

Getting in Closer

piclens_closeup_browsing Selecting an image will create a slightly larger, higher quality thumbnail of the photo you’d like to look at. This is why PicLens is so responsive. It pulls in very low-resolution previews at first, but streams in higher quality thumbnails as you use the add-on, as well.

A Better Slideshow

piclens_detail The PicLens photo detail interface is pretty similar to Flickr’s built-in slideshow capabilities, except PicLens runs full-screen natively. Images stream in pretty quickly (depending on connection speed) and you can browse through images pretty quickly using back and forward buttons… or hit play and let it go on its own.

The Verdict

Overall, I’m really digging this plugin. It’s unobtrusive and doesn’t effect using your sites regularly… if you don’t want to use PicLens, you simply don’t click on the buttons to activate it. It adds enough additional functionality to enhance Flickr, the rest is just gravy. Check out PicLens for your browser.