Blaze some trails with Tracks

mzl.viadzbpq.320x480-75Tracks is a new iOS app from Tracks Media, Inc. The app has been around for a while, but has recently released a major update to version 2.5, which has also caused it to show up on the App Store front page as a featured item. The app itself is a free download, and does not carry additional in-app purchases.

Tracks is a social photography app designed to allow users to discover and share visual content on a variety of different themes. These “tracks” can be followed, allowing users to easily stay up to date on the latest posts on favorite subjects, and perhaps collaborate with other users on what is effectively a large communal photo album.

Tracks’ main screen allows users to browse through a variety of different available Tracks. If the user has connected their account to Facebook, several Tracks are automatically created according to their relationship status — if they are in a relationship, a Track is created depicting them and their partner, and another track is also created depicting images in which they appear with their friends. Aside from this, the user may browse Tracks from their friends on the service, a “Just for You” Track based on other content they may have followed, along with Trending and Recent feeds. Users may also discover tracks according to their location and broad topic areas, or search for specific content.

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Viewing a Track displays an Instagram-style feed depicting the contributing users, the images (or videos) that they have posted, and providing other users the opportunity to like, comment or share individual images. Liking and commenting are self-explanatory; sharing allows the user to either post the image to Facebook or Twitter (even if it is not theirs) or to “ReTrack” it to one of their own Tracks. As with most mobile-social photography networks, there is seemingly relatively little concern for ownership of images, given how easily photos can be reshared — and how many Tracks are filled with memes and other images repurposed from the rest of the Internet rather than original content.

Taking a photo is a simple matter of tapping the camera button, which brings up a slightly-tweaked default iOS camera interface. From here, the user may apply one of several filters in real time, refocus the camera, make use of the digital zoom and turn the flash on or off. The button to use the front-facing camera for self-portraits is also present, but it doesn’t work.

The user may take multiple photos in one go, and after they are finished they are prompted to add them to either a new Track or an existing one they have contributed to or followed. Images may also be shared on Facebook and Twitter at this point. Once the photo has been posted, it is available for all to see in the relevant Tracks.

Tracks’ biggest trouble is that it doesn’t really explain what it’s “for.” The ability to discover images and videos on a particular theme may be appealing to some users, but for those who find themselves asking why you would want to do that, there’s not a lot here. The community doesn’t seem particularly lively at present, making the whole thing seem more like a show of vanity than genuine social interaction in most cases — but for those who simply want to show their photographs off, there are better solutions available which respect the original photographer’s ownership of the image a little better. As such, it’s honestly difficult to tell who Tracks is really for — there are far better, more fully-features social networks out there along with better photo-sharing solutions and better photo manipulation apps. The app’s certainly well-designed and looks nice — there just isn’t really a place for it in an already-crowded marketplace.

You can follow Tracks’ progress with AppData, our tracking service for mobile and social apps and developers.