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Create and share photo albums with Albumatic

A purveyor of the social photo album, Albumatic lets iPhone users near one another share photos.

If you find yourself at an event -- party, wedding, huge snow storm -- with a bunch of iPhone-wielding friends, Albumatic will let you create a social photo album. Granted, as The Verge points out, it's probably easier to use Instagram and an agreed-upon hashtag to share photos, with the added benefit of including the Android users in your midst. Whether Albumatic finds an audience is a question that remains to be answered, but the app itself is slick. And free and ad-free.

Screenshot by Matt Elliott/CNET

Launch Albumatic for the first time and you'll need to create an account via e-mail or Facebook. You'll also need to let the app know your location and you should allow it to access your iPhone's photos.

After creating an account, tap the "+" button in the upper-right corner to create an album. Give the album a title by answering Albumatic's question, What are you up to? Next, tap the Camera icon to either snap a picture or select one or a group from your Camera Roll or Photo Stream.

Screenshot by Matt Elliott/CNET

Your albums are listed on the Home screen. By tapping the button in the lower-left corner, you can toggle between two views: thumbnails grouped by album or a running, Instagram-like feed of all your photos. Tap the menu button in the upper-left corner or swipe right to view Albumatic's menu that includes: Home, My Albums, Friends, and Notifications.

Screenshot by Matt Elliott/CNET

To invite friends, open the menu and tap Find Friends at the bottom of the column. You can see other Albumatic users that are nearby or you can search via your iPhone contacts or Facebook. In settings, you can auto-accept friend requests from your phone contacts and Facebook friends.

Screenshot by Matt Elliott/CNET

Friends who are nearby can post photos to albums, while friends farther away can be invited to view albums. It's unclear what Albumatic means by "nearby"; perhaps it means on the same Wi-Fi network. With an account set up on my iPhone and another set up on my iPad, my two Albumatic profiles didn't see one another until both were connected via Wi-Fi on my home network. Albumatic couldn't discern my iPhone's location until I solved, for the time being, my iPhone 4S' repeated and ongoing Wi-Fi connection issues (which is a conversation for another time).

Screenshot by Matt Elliott/CNET

Once connected, Albumatic friends see all of the albums the other has started or joined and not just the album that initially brought them together. That is, once you are friends, you don't need to invite each other to join a particular album. Albums remain joinable to nearby friends as long as they are active, which means a photo has been added in the last 12 hours.

Screenshot by Matt Elliott/CNET

As with Instagram, you can comment on and like a photo. And if you were the one to upload a photo to an album, you can delete it from the album. Unlike Instagram, Albumatic is self-contained; you can't share from the app to Facebook or Twitter, for example.

Among your group of friends, is there a critical mass of not only iPhone users but also iPhone users willing to try another photo app that you'd consider sharing photo albums with Albumatic at your next gathering? Or is the inertia of Instagram too great? Let me know in the comments below.