In this review I'll only cover some of the new features of version 1.5 of the PhotoTrader app. Please see my previous write up for my review of PhotoTrader itself.
The apps author has been trying to devine ways to make his app more appealing to casual users an opposed to those users that appear to be there only for T&A. His latest version, version 1.5 now available in the App Store, added some interesting social features to the app to attempt to drum up more creative contributions and reward those that do. How did he do?
The most obvious new feature when viewing an exchange is the "Like" button. This is the primary way to which you can rate the quality and appropriateness of the message.
This screen allows you both to rate the message, as well as categorize it. Take note of the "Theme of the Day" button. The developer appear to have committed himself to keeping that section up to date, so that people can be voted as appropriate for the the "TotD" category.
The exchanges themselves aren't ranked, but the person who sent them is. The ranking page looks like this. As you can see, my handle "LDB" is #3. I really did not have to try that hard. I took photos of this morning's sunrise and some cityscape shots from my 11th story office window, but apparently even that minimal effort lifts one above the endless sea of crotches and televisions.
Friend-ing by Name
You can view yours and other people's ranking in their "info" pages. Another new feature to this version of the app is the ability to add friends without actually having had a previous exchange with them. So if you remember someone's name but forgot to friend them before they fell off your "previous exchanges" list, or you see an interesting person on the "Social" ladder, you can send them a friend request. This is a neat feature, but I think it might be a bad thing for women (more on that later).
"Social", does it work?
Personally, I think there's more incentive to contribute interesting photos to the "random" pool, but I have not found that people that you get back are any different. The same plethora of crotches, TV's and unsolicitied penis photos appear. However, if you leverage the social ladder to befriend people, I think you can increase the likelyhood of decent content, however that means you'll have to befriend them directly without previous exchanges.
When a female friend of mine upgraded her app, she was surprised and shocked to find herself immediately at the #1 spot of the social ladder, without even knowing what it was. She was alarmed to receive a large number of unsolicited friend requests. Her info and handle imply she's female. I think you should have the ability to opt out of the social/likability features, otherwise female users might be exposed without their consent. Instead of aimlessly hoping to hit them randomly, male users can now zero in on them directly via the Social list.
I really like a lot of the improvements made to the app. Its snappier, the UI is even more improved, and the threading of the exchanges seems to be a lot more solid (there were weird random crashes from when I think it was trying to sync with the server and you were in the middle of composing an exchange?). The advent of the social/like concept is a good direction for the app, and I think it will, if not provoke more creative content, it will at least let you find those people who are into that kind of content. (Though I would imagine females will get ranked regardless!).