Shoutout takes on Snapchat with a much better design

Shoutout screenshot

Shoutout is a free app for iPhone entering the App Store this past September that strives to make photo sharing as simple as possible without all the bells and whistles some apps seem to tack on. In fact, it's so quick that Shoutout lacks a shutter button. The moment you tap a friend's name, the app snaps a photo and sends it. It requires iOS 7.0 or later.

Let's not beat around the bush here: Shoutout is a direct competitor to Snapchat. I'd go a little further than that to say it mimics most of Snapchat's functionality. That's not an insult though; as the saying goes, imitation is the best form of flattery. Shoutout isn't quite imitating Snapchat, but perhaps improving upon the idea. The general idea of fast photo sharing is the same, but Shoutout's approach is slightly different.

If you're a new user, Shoutout gives you a brief tour of how it works. Like Snapchat, the camera is on most of the time you use the app. In terms of the UI, that's mostly where the similarities end. A blue tab on the left with a number indicates how many new photos friends have sent to you. Swipe to pull this tab and view the photos with their optional captions. Otherwise, swiping changes filters and effects for the camera, from B&W to "Fun House."

Your friends' thumbnails are always present toward the bottom of the app while you're in camera view. It may look like they're there to select individually for sharing after taking a photo, but they are essentially the shutter buttons. Tap a thumbnail and a photo is taken and sent. It's wicked fast. If you blink, there's a good chance you missed it.

Shoutout screenshot

The advantage to this method is its speed: it's much faster than Snapchat, which utilizes a tedious multi-step process to send one photo to one person. The disadvantage is one even Apple's own Messages app in iOS 8 shares which is the inability to preview the photo you're sending before it sends. If something quickly gets in the way of your shot before you're able to take a photo, you won't know because it will have already sent. Some people can live with this, others find the sacrifice not worth the speed. Personally, I think it'd be nice to get even just a brief preview before it sends.

A "Send All" button on the bottom right sends the photo to all of your friends. If you swipe to the left, your friends' photos slide out and get replaced with options for viewing a full list of friends, your own profile or adjust settings. A handy feature worth noting: tap "Create Group" in the Friends view to organize a customized group of friends to save and send photos to all at once - a pleasant little detail.

Shoutout wins the award for best design. This app makes Snapchat look immature and uninspired. Plus, as with many new apps to hit the App Store, Shoutout is fully optimized to look great on the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. The group feature is efficient, too. However, Shoutout's one-tap photo sharing won't be to everyone's taste, and despite its better design, it's hard to compete with Snapchat's already very large user base. Snapchat is to dedicated photo-sharing services what Google is to search engines. Shoutout doesn't support video either.

Does Shoutout deserve your attention? Absolutely. It's a fresh and well crafted alternative to Snapchat. The problem is people looking for alternatives to Snapchat are few and far between. If you're one of them, give this free app a "shoutout."