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.

Instagram Begins Signups for Android App

Instagram Begins Signups for Android App

Mar 26, 2012

Instagram, the popular iOS filtered photo service and social network, has taken one more step toward its next big step: Android. Teased at various intervals, now a registration page to be alerted when the app goes live is up on the Instagram website.

This may be the most-demanded app from Android users, and the concern from Instagram with launching may be if their servers can handle a massive expansion of users, because they do host the images themselves. There is an API available to access Instgram images, but this appears to be view-only; actually posting to Instagram requires deeper hooks that may only be available on a limited basis. One of the few known 3rd party Instagram apps is Hipstamatic, which is still on iOS. That’s not helping Android users out. Until then, users can use apps like InstaRoid for phones or HoneyGram for Honeycomb and Ice Cream Sandwich tablets, or even Google TV.

But until that day when Instagram for Android is loosed upon the world, we’ll just have to put up with third-party photo filtering solutions like Lightbox. Sigh.

Instagram for Android is Coming, Except It Really Isn’t

Instagram for Android is Coming, Except It Really Isn’t

Sep 1, 2011

Instagram’s CEO Kevin Systrom has announced that an Android version of their photo sharing service is “on the horizon” for Android. The app is very close to being real, as they don’t even have a team assembled to develop the app for Android. That is also sarcastic. This means that the app is about as far along in being a reality as my plans of moving out of Texas are. Sure, I have ideas and ways that it could possibly happen, but is anything actually happening toward that end beyond me wanting it? Not really. Same here with Instagram. If Instagram’s strength is its social networking and if Android users are actually a priority to the company, then why are we still waiting on an Android app. Perhaps I just don’t get the whole retro photo filter craze, and they really do need to take their time with making the app perfect. Of course, the problem for Instagram with waiting so long is that Facebook is making their own sort of photo filter feature, and Facebook is not a behemoth one wants to trail when entering a market. Their asymmetric following might be popular with iPhone users, but if Facebook beats them on Android, they could lose out on that market.

Of course, there’s the possibility that if they also keep waiting to make it, then the photo filter fad will pass, and soon Instagram will be irrelevant. After all, there’s a reason why taking faded and oddly-colored photos fell out of style, isn’t there? It’s funny that Kevin Systrom mentions the latest popular fad, Justin Bieber, because Instagram could certainly go the route of Mr. Bieber once he hits puberty. What goes around comes around, and if Instagram doesn’t jump on this, then perhaps we can all return to a time when we all just took normal-looking photographs.

Source: Techland