Snapseed is an iPhone app available for $4.99. If you’re wondering why its price is a bit high, it’s because it’s a universal app (so you can use it on your iPad as well as on your iPhone and iPod touch) and, more importantly, because it’s a really well-designed app. Snapseed has been praised by some of the most prominent figures in digital photography circles, and with good reason—it’s a photo manipulation app that is packed with features as well as executed with a winning interface.
Snapseed supports an assortment of tasks related to editing and enhancing photos, and it presents them in a bar at the bottom of the screen when the iPhone is in portrait mode or in a pane at the left of the screen when in landscape mode. Obviously, Snapseed works in either mode, but as this is an app that is heavily invested in the appearance of images it’s better operated in the mode that matches the orientation of the image being edited. Either way you’ll have all the same set of tools at your disposal and the same interface niceties to work with.
It may be a tad intimidating to use Snapseed for the first time, especially at the sight of the numerous editing tools available. Snapseed’s feature set of tools include Auto Correct, Selective Adjust, Tune Image, Straighten & Rotate, Crop, Details, Center Focus, and Tilt-Shift, as well as a number of filters and frames. It’s one thing to know what the names of these tools mean; it’s another to know how to properly use them. Fortunately there’s an instruction overlay that appears every time you try a new tool. Several tools’ intructions vary from others’, but only slightly.
The basic method of editing, once a tool has been chosen, involves swiping upward or downward to select an enhancement and swiping leftward or rightward to adjust the parameters of the selected enhancement. Pinch and drag gestures work intuitively as well. A preview icon can be pressed to compare the edited version to the original, and an opposite-facing pair of arrowheads can be tapped to either cancel or apply the actions so far performed. On the iPhone these arrowheads bear no labels, so it’s easy to mistake them to have “next/previous” functions. The left arrowhead should’ve been just an “X” for “cancel” and the right one should’ve been just a check mark for “apply.” It certainly makes for a more straightforward approach.
You can take a new photo to edit immediately or you can load a photo from you device’s library into the app. But be mindful of the limitation regarding image resolutions: Snapseed supports images with resolutions of up to only 16 MP, so don’t be surprised when, after all the enhancements you’ve applied to a vacation photo you took with your high-end camera, you end up with an image that’s significantly scaled down from the original. Don’t let this proviso hold you back from downloading Snapseed, though. Its trouble with higher resolutions notwithstanding, Snapseed is a must-have photography app.