Flickr takes on Instagram with shoot-and-share Android app

Flickr for Android's camera feature (click to enlarge)

Flickr on Wednesday unveiled its first official Android (s GOOG) application, a “shoot-and-share” app that gives users the ability to edit photos and add visual filters.

Flickr for Android clearly takes a few cues from Instagram, the super popular photo sharing app currently available only on the iPhone (s AAPL). By hitting the market now, Flickr for Android could well take some air out of Instagram’s upcoming Android debut.

Flickr has had a native iPhone app since September 2009. Currently, though, the shoot-and-share and photo filter features are available only through the new Android app. In a meeting with reporters at Flickr’s San Francisco headquarters Wednesday, Flickr head of product Markus Spiering said that those features are currently in development to be added to the iPhone app, but would not provide a time frame as to when they will be deployed.

A new focus on mobile

Yahoo (s YHOO), which has owned Flickr since 2005, is currently placing a stronger emphasis on mobile and social in general, Yahoo VP Steve Douty said during the press event. “It is a strategic direction for us and we are committed to being a player, a bigger player than we are today, in the mobile space,” Douty said. With 680 million global users visiting Yahoo each month, he said, Yahoo actually has a lot of data that it can use to inform its strategy for targeting personalized experiences of its products. “We get a lot of signals that enable us to deliver a good experience to our users.” The company plans to leverage that data more and more as time goes on.

Also on Wednesday, Flickr debuted a social sharing app called Photo Session that essentially allows you to conduct a modern-day version of vacation slide shows. Photo Session allows users to guide a small group of friends and family through a photo set on Flickr in real-time while on different devices. Photo Session includes a chat function as well as a feature that lets participants doodle on top of the photos. Photo Session can be accessed on iPhones, iPads and desktop computers.

Will Flickr’s best be good enough?

Overall, the updates show that Flickr still has some fire in its belly — the team seems to see the rise of products such as Instagram as a challenge, and unveiling the Android app now is certainly a smart move. Whether it will really be enough to give Flickr the boost it needs to compete in today’s photo sharing world will only be known in time.

Here are some screenshots of Flickr for Android (click to enlarge):