The Flickr app for PlayStation Vita popped up in the Japanese PlayStation Store today, so we thought we'd check it out. It's a free download, and works like any other Vita app — downloading it installs an application to the home screen with its own LiveArea from which you start it up. Pairing your Flickr account to the Vita is a matter of signing in on the Vita browser, memorizing or making a note of a nine-digit security code, and using it to log into the application. After that, there's no sign-in process to deal with.
The application itself uses a pretty intuitive interface, arranging the standard Flickr functions in rows from top to bottom, and letting you scroll through photos from left to right. Thumbnails are a little slow to load, even though they're compressed, but full-size pictures do look great on the Vita's five-inch OLED screen once you finally get them up. First you have to tap on the thumbnail, wait for it to load a second thumbnail that fills half the screen (the other half being dedicated to the photo's information), then tap it again for a full-screen view. The app doesn't do so well with caching, either, meaning that you have to wait for each individual photo to load when flicking through an album.
Like the Twitter app LiveTweet, Flickr for Vita is a solid way to access the service, but falls short when it comes to integrating the Vita's features for a truly native experience. Aside from the way it uses the Vita's own cameras for uploads, it doesn't seem to do much to leverage the PlayStation Network, which could be a viable upgrade path for the future. That said, in lieu of a native iPad app it might well become our preferred way to use Flickr on the go — the Vita's screen makes for a more attractive photo-viewing experience than any smartphone we're yet to come across.