AMITIAE - Monday 16 April 2012

Filters and Other Effects for iOS Devices - Pix: Pixel Mixer

apple and chopsticks


By Graham K. Rogers


You would think that with all the hundreds of apps for photography that exist for iOS devices, the market would be saturated. You might be wrong. While the early days of such apps brought some great new ideas to the App Store for users to download, every once in a while another new arrival shows that developer creativity is not done yet.


I saw the bare details of Pix: Pixel Mixer in the What's Hot list of iPhone apps in iTunes and what was initially attractive was the note that it would support saving of images in full resolution. Another attractive point was that the app is free; while the screenshots on the App Store were interesting enough to swing the balance. I mean, I really don't need another photography app, but why not?

A note on those App Store screen shots: like the app icon, these are often a guide to the type of care that a developer has in the app that has been created. The photographs used by Kang DongHyuk indicated to me a real interest in the output of the app. The developer name, the Developer site, and the Facebook support page suggest that this is from S. Korea.

Pix: Pixel Mixer

Like a lot of photographic apps, Pix uses filters, film layers and frames to give a user great deal of flexibility in the output from the app. Although I prefer to use such effects sparingly, we have only to look at social networking sites to see the results of such apps. No matter how professionals may frown at the over use of effects, a lot of people are enjoying the many ways in which their pictures can be transformed. Some may be out of focus, or badly framed, but users are having fun.

There are some 30 filters, which seems fairly generous for a free app, plus 24 film layers. There are also 16 frames. The app installs on both the iPhone and the iPad (iPod touch too). I tried it first on the iPhone.

Pix Pix

Pix: iPhone

The cameras on the iPhone have just got better and better and so the features that are found in photography apps have become more useful. Pix takes an interesting approach to the use of filters and the other effects with its iPhone installation. The opening screen is nicely designed: simple and clean. That gives way to another simple screen with two choices: Camera; and Select, which links directly to the Photo Albums, so users can work on an image that is already stored.

When a picture is used, initially the 30 filters are lined up at the bottom of the screen, above the tool bar. Touching one applies the effect. The name of the filter appears on the screen above a tiny trash icon. Touching the filter again (or the Trash icon) removes the effect: simple and direct.

Pix Pix Pix

The first of the filters is named Auto. Like six others, there are three small dots above the filter. Each of those has three levels of intensity. The effect can either be removed by use of the Trash can, or touching the filter three times, when the effect is removed. This is particularly useful with filters like Grayscale or Sepia, when appyling such an effect needs different levels of subtlety. The other filters just need to be touched once for on and once for off, or the Trash icon may be used.

The filters are displayed when a magic wand icon is live at the bottom of the screen. Alongside this are the effects for layers, which add different effects on top of the photograph, such as Canvas, Cotton or Smoke. There are some 24 of these and users may want to be sparing with their use: less is more.

The third tool is for Frames: the addition of a border around the image. I counted 16 of these and again, feel that, despite their availability, I would use these judiciously.

Two other icons are shown at the bottom: a star that, refers to a star on the right side of the screen. Tapping this, saves an effect as a favourite: a warning panel appears to confirm that this is wanted -- an example of thoroughness in attention to detail. A Lightning bolt icon at the far right of the icons, is for random effects to be applied. When I tried this combinations of filter effects were added to the image, such as Childhood and Blur (3); with the choice next time being Grayscale (3) and Horror; and a third time, Nightfall.

At the top right of the screen is a small blue circle with a + sign. When tapped this reveals 5 more tools for returning to the Home screen (Camera and Select), which removes all effects; a Save screen which puts the changed image into the Photo Album; Export; a Remove Effects tool; and "i" for reporting of any errors. Although the app exports images at full size for most effects, there are a number that are not optimised.

Pix Pix Pix

When a user tries to export at full size with these, a polite message appears with the information that Cartoon, Neon, Noise, Sketch are not supported. As that leaves some two dozen other filters, I did not find that unacceptable. One file I exported from the iPhone using cartoon was 837 x 957 (0.8MP) and 395KB. A full size image taken with the iPhone camera was 2448 x 3264 (8.0MP) with a file size of 1.52MB.

Export is for Facebook and Twitter only, with More also shown. This reveals any other apps that are capable of working with Pix. In my case there were 10 available. However, Mail was not listed. If a user wants to use email for any image, this must be done from the Photo Album.

Pix: iPad

I do not consider the iPad a proper picture taking device: it is too bulky and the cameras on the iPhone are superior. Nonetheless, as the iPad can be used on the road as a mini studio (replacing a heavier notebook computer) its greater value is as an editor of images already on the device.


The same opening screens as on the iPhone are used here, but are considerably larger. While I would not want to work on the iPad camera, using images imported from the Albums was really rather easy as the larger screen area places the filters and the image display in a much more easy to read way.


As many of the images I have on the iPad are already cropped, I exported a full size image (4928 x 3264) using Photo Stream. Some optimisation occurs. When it was on the iPad, I applied a single effect and then saved in the Photo album. Photo Stream then transfers the saved image to the Aperture library. When brought back into Aperture, the changed image was now 2319 x 1536 (3.6MP) and 689KB.


There are necessary size reductions that occur when transferring large images to the iPad and iPhone. In the past when I have saved a few images from my Nikon D7000 directly onto the iPad (using the Apple Camera Connector Kit), space is eaten up really quickly.

With all images on the iPad, the display in landscape mode was bordered, so the panel was not used fully. Some images I tried in portrait mode were displayed full screen, so it may just be the way the images were cropped. This did not cause any problems with viewing or applying the effects on the iPad. In the Photo album saved images were displayed full size.



There is really little to say that is negative about this app. It applies a good selection of filters and other effects onto images and allows for their export in a number of ways. While the filters themselves may not be to everyone's taste, there are enough supplied -- in what is after all a free app -- to satisfy most users who are interested in this sort of image manipulation.

It is not an editor, nor does it pretend to be. That is a task for other apps, but what it does, it does cleanly and well. While I prefer working on the iPhone, the iPad version felt rather relaxing to use: the larger screen area does make things easier.

This is a well made app and should find a lot of fans.

Graham K. Rogers teaches at the Faculty of Engineering, Mahidol University in Thailand. He wrote in the Bangkok Post, Database supplement on IT subjects. For the last seven years of Database he wrote a column on Apple and Macs.



Made on Mac

For further information, e-mail to

information Tag information Tag

Back to eXtensions
Back to Home Page