VSCO Cam Review

VSCO Cam Review

Feb 27, 2014

When it comes to image capture on mobile devices, competition is fierce. Better hardware, more megapixels, yes, but almost more importantly, better image manipulation tools. This is the space VSCO Cam is looking to fill.

Starting the app starts a device optimization sequence; after this, the app menu appears, and it gives us a clue as to the app’s core functionality. The app menu is rated in greys and blacks, besides the Camera button, there are tabs for Library, Store, Settings, Journal and VSCO Grid, and these tabs are set in a slide-out panel that can be hidden on the left.

The camera function is probably the most important, and selecting it opens up the shooting utility. This specific vsco1environment is minimalist in nature, with menu and sizing buttons. There is also a toggle to important pictures for manipulation. Taking a picture is as simple as it is on any smartphone camera (obviously); VSCO Cam‘s assumed value is mostly in its ability to tweak images.

And, at first blush, that value is high indeed. The option set is superb, allowing for the user to actually create pre-sets that can be applied to pictures. Further, there is a slider that can be utilized to perfect tat particular look. Picture tweaking utilizes elements like temperature and exposure to create balance, and the comparison feature is phenomenal, as it allows for before/after checks by long-pressing the edited image. For folks looking to get a hand in selecting the perfect combination of tweaks, there are preset packs available via in-app purchase.

The app also covers the social angle, allowing sharing via social networks and via its own aforementioned VSCO Grid. The latter is an interesting concept that makes sense, allowing folks to discover and be discovered. This is social aspect adds to the attraction of the app.

It’s a third-party app that is fluid and actually fun to use, and is great for all ages.

Snapseed Review

Snapseed Review

Dec 28, 2012

There was a time, not all that long ago, when cameras on phones were not too hot. The hardware was rudimentary, and the accompanying software bordered on the silly. Pictures were not that great.

Since then, it has gotten better… much better. So much so, that for many people, their smartphone cameras are the cameras for everyday use.

Snapseed (from Nik Software) is an app that looks to perfect the picture-taking experience. It is a photo-editing title that incorporates a lot of the features people have come to expect with apps of this type. Being chock-full of fan favorite filters definitely makes it an interesting offering.

I found the app to have a clean, simple interface which belied its bubbly functionality. It opened up with a quick diagram fitted with a test picture and an accompanying tutorial, which was simple but effective; it let me understand the basics of photo manipulation and enhancement. There was an automatic tab, as well as tuners for color, cropping, and more interestingly labeled filters like grunge, vintage and the interestingly titled “Drama” option. “Selective Adjust” allowed me to manipulate specific areas of my image on the fly.

Additionally, there were borders that could be added to give my images a somewhat formal finish.

I found the program intuitive enough to go in and play with right after the install; I especially liked the multitude of import options. The import tool pulled photos from Dropbox, my file manager of choice, or my device Gallery. For Google+ users, the one-touch share button will be welcome; I was also able to share to other apps on my device by using the built-in share option.

The unspoken comparison will be to Instagram; this app does not have the integrated social network that the Big Guy on the Block does, but in the enhancement department, I thought Snapseed more than held its own. The share functionality and cross-platform nature of the app definitely makes it a great creator of nostalgia though.

Twitter Fires Salvo Back at Instagram with Aviary-Powered Photo Filters

Twitter Fires Salvo Back at Instagram with Aviary-Powered Photo Filters

Dec 11, 2012

There’s a big feud between Twitter and Instagram. Ever since Facebook bought Instagram, tensions have risen between the two services. Twitter shut off Instagram’s API access for finding new friends, and Instagram recently disabled their support for Twitter Cards for rich image previews on the web. In short, it’s a mess where users are losing, and it’s because Twitter is falling behind on mobile in comparison to Instagram.

However, to try and close the gap, and to get some people away from Instagram, Twitter has launched a new feature: filtered photos. It’s made its debut on Android, where photos can be edited before sharing. Eight filters can be added to photos, a contrast boost applied, and cropping available. Interestingly – or even appropriately – Twitter developed this feature with Aviary’s photo editing engine. Birds of a feather stick together.

However, it seems as if adding photo filters is missing the point of Instagram: it’s the fact that it is a social network of its own, not just a clearinghouse for filtered photos. Dozens of apps support filtered photos now. But Instagram has built its own community, with its own structure and customs. The fact that it hooks in to other social networks means that it exists as a sharing service as well as its own beast. Facebook may struggle to get its money worth from the service, especially as monetizing it may prove to be a challenge. And of course, social networks come and go. But it’s not just about filtering photos, which feels like a desperate attempt by Twitter to seem hip.

However, it may have a benefit for Twitter, even if it doesn’t make a dent in Instagram usage: its one more reason to get users to stick with the official Twitter apps. Think about it: some people will just want to stick with the filters that Twitter’s providing when they share their photos, and avoid apps that don’t have them. It gets users to stick with Twitter apps, and that’s Twitter’s goal at the moment: bleed out third-party clients in favor of their own, where they control the experience entirely.

As well, this is a boon for Aviary: if you’re trying to sell photo editing technology that can be integrated in other apps on a cross-platform basis, then, well, it’s hard to find a better platform than in the official Twitter app. It could serve as major promotion for them.

So, while these filters may be silly little ways to add stylization to pictures taken with cell phones, they represent something more: the swinging fists of giants trying to jockey for position in the mobile market.

Pixlr Express Brings Quick and Easy Photo Editing and Stylization to Android Devices

Pixlr Express Brings Quick and Easy Photo Editing and Stylization to Android Devices

Nov 16, 2012

Pixlr, developers of a suite of photo-editing applications, have just released Pixlr Express for Android. The objective? Provide super-simple photo editing to the masses. It’s easy to perform not only basic adjustments like cropping, saturation modification, and brightness altering, but also more advanced features. Want to add a color splash effect? It’s very easy with the drag and drop tool. Add in a focal blur, or just basic blurring. Add whitening or red eye reduction. Or just hit the auto fix button and watch picture quality improve…maybe!

And of course, because this is 2012 and everyone wants in on the Instagram filtered photo craze, there’s a variety of effects, overlays, and borders that can be applied. While Instagram’s appeal is that they make it simple to do such things, Pixlr Express offers advanced options and more options to alter images than Instagram does, including more filters, special effects to make photos look like they’re water-stained or have lighting effects on them, and additional frames. Individual components and effect instensity can also be modified. Photos can be easily exported to Instagram through the sharing option in the upper right corner.

Pixlr Express is a free download from Google Play.

HUE Camera FX Photo Editor Review

HUE Camera FX Photo Editor Review

Feb 13, 2012

Somewhere along the line I missed the “Learn Photoshop” train. Although it’s on my list of things to do and learn, I rely on easy to use, point and click, nothing fancy photo editing programs. Usually I only need to fix some color or remove redeye. HUE Camera FX fits the bill in mobile form. From start to finishing HUE Camera FX is technically all anyone will possibly need. Take photos, retouch blemishes, adjust colors and add layered effects all with a touch of the finger. When it’s done, easily share the finished product on Facebook, Google+ and more.

HUE Camera FX allows users to have control over the look of their photos from beginning to end. With HUE Camera FX users begin by choosing a preset lighting scheme. From there users can pick from an array of color options ranging from black and white, to negative, Polaroid, and even individual hue/saturation color effects. What puts HUE Camera FX above other on the go photo editing apps is its automatic layering effect. Want to enhance the reds and place them over a sepia-colored photo? No problem. Add a sepia layer then a layer of the red hue/saturation effect. A drag of the finger over the photo and voila, red appears on sepia anywhere the screen is touched.

Sadly, what makes HUE Camera FX so great is also the app’s biggest downfall. Rather, the inability to zoom in and do precision work is. It is practically impossible to enhance and touch up blemishes to small areas like eyes, hair or even small background objects using a finger. HUE Camera FX attempts to correct this issue by allowing users to adjust the erase and color tool’s size but my finger is still too large for many of the jobs I know this app could otherwise accomplish. I felt teased by all the potential I could see in this app; all I wanted was a zoom tool.

Overall HUE Camera FX has amazing potential. The color effects are simple and easy to use. The app intuitively creates layers for even more “advanced” editing. If only there were a way to complete precision work this app would be perfect.