12 Tech Days Of Christmas 2011

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Snapseed Mobile Photo Editing App: Put More Snap in Your Holiday Shots

By Allison Johnson


Nik Software has been developing high-powered, user-friendly photo editing software for more than 15 years, so it is no newbie when it comes to making digital photos look a lot better.


One of the key features in the company’s software is the ability to apply local tweaks to brightness and exposure. Much of this functionality has been transferred to Snapseed, an inexpensive mobile app developed for the iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch.


Some fairly advanced photo adjustments are condensed into this little app that costs less than $5. Straightening, sharpening, filter effects, exposure adjustment and other editing features that are usually reserved for desktop software are all here.


Snapseed ImagenThe user interface is a little bit foreign at first. When editing an image, a vertical swipe of the screen will select the adjustment you would like to make (contrast or brightness, for example) while horizontal swipes tune the strength of that adjustment. For example, scrolling left and right across the screen while adjusting white balance will warm up or cool an image.

Put a Filter on It!


And what is an iPhone camera app without a selection of hipster-pleasing retro filters? SnapSeed offers several of these (Grunge, Tilt Shift, Center focus for example) and each filter can be tweaked in countless ways. I have a love/hate relationship with the filters. Mostly, I hate that I love them. They are cliché, they are annoying when overused, but damn it if they are not addictive and fun.


The Snapseed filters are no exception. The tilt shift filter is the best I’ve used – pinch and zoom controls change the width and angle of the effect so you can adjust it precisely to fit your composition.


The concept of the app is a little counter-intuitive, but the strength of the iPhone camera is in its simplicity, right? And, the get-what-you-get and then post it to Twitter is the nature of the beast. For most of us, this is a fact. But, for those who want to make adjustments on the fly, who want to fuss with a vignette filter until it looks just right, Snapseed is the way to go.

Share and Share Alike


Photos can be sent to Twitter directly from the app with an accompanying tweet. Uploading directly to Facebook and Flickr is also possible, with the option of adding captions and selecting the proper gallery. Once you have sent the photo to the appropriate social networks, you can still use the back button to return the photo to its original state and discard your changes. I like that.


Do not expect to work miracles with Snapseed. The biggest drawback to the iPhone app is how difficult it is to work with minute adjustments on a small screen. It is a great display, but it is not ideal for photo editing. It is possible to completely over-sharpen and over-work an image in the app without it looking too distorted on the iPhone screen. In this respect, Snapseed may be a better iPad app purchase than an iPhone app.


Snapseed offers a level of photo editing functionality that you probably do not need on an iPhone. But who can resist it? The level of control offered with each filter and adjustment is far beyond the reach of any free hipster-gram app. The iPhone app has its drawbacks, mostly due to the limitations of editing photos on a teeny tiny screen. It is fun, and heck it will only cost you about five bucks.


Price: $4.99 (via download)
Website: www.niksoftware.com

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