AMITIAE - Friday 30 December 2011

A Poster App for iOS Devices: Phoster

apple and chopsticks


By Graham K. Rogers


I enjoy using graphics programs that help me with output. On the desktop of my Mac I have had a lot of enjoyment from Camerabag, which is like the iPhone app of the same name, as well as some of the applications that apply effects like Comic Life which has long been on my Macs. This is now also on my iPad. An application that has a lot of use is Posterino. While there is no iPhone or iPad app from Zykloid, I recently found a poster-making app called Phoster that has this purpose, although output is nowhere near the quality of Posterino. In comparing the power of the two devices -- Mac and iPhone -- this is hardly surprising; and forgivable.

Using the App

There are a generous 66 poster templates including a blank. Unlike Posterino, however, these are all portrait mode. Once we select a suitable template an image is added. With the iPhone this is either from the camera or the library. With the iPad 2 there is no camera function, so both iPads have photo library access only.

phoster phoster phoster

When the image is brought in and adjusted for size and position if needed, we can work on the text. Text size is changed using simple "smaller" and "larger" icons. Other settings include colours as well as 7 font types. Once the poster had been created with the image and fonts, we are then offered another 18 paper and display options (filters) for each template.

The app changes to a "Printing" screen and the finished poster is displayed on a page with four icons: back, to make more adjustments if needed; Save; Share; and Home, to take us back to the start. The Share option gives us a number of ways in which to use the poster: email, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and Print, which seeks out any printers on the wifi network. On the Home page there is also a direct link to the Flickr community.

This app seemed to get even better when I put it on the iPad 2 and it opened in the full screen display. This made operating with the app a whole lot easier and gave me a far better idea of what the finished product might look like. However, the disadvantage here was that all of the posters I produced were smaller than those I made on the iPhone. When I tried the iPad 1, the size was larger.

Being the academic, I made direct comparisons with the three devices, using the same template and the same image for each. When the poster was complete, I saved in the library and then sent the posters to the same email address. In one test, the iPad 1 and iPhone produced images of 1.8MB each, while the iPad 2 output via email was 561KB.

I then linked the devices to the Mac and imported the same images into Aperture. The iPad 1 gave me an image of 498KB at 1448 x 2048, while the iPad 2 image was 182KB and 724 x 1024. The iPhone image had a resolution of 1448 x 2048. Another image I had imported from the iPhone was also 1448 x 2048 with a size of 664KB, considerably smaller than the email image at 2.4MB for that one. With the size of 1.8MB reported for another email image, this may change depending on template, image and the other variables (text, filters).

The image I had first exported from the iPhone was exported to the desktop in TIFF format, 20.11" x 28.444" at a respectable 9.4MB, slightly smaller than the 20 x 30 output I normally use from Posterino. While the photo itself and the lettering I entered were fine there was a small amount of jaggedness on some of the curly flourishes in the display at that size.

Output from the iPads was limited and I was a little surprised with the smaller sized exports from the iPad 2: the iPad 1 (but with no camera of course) had better results. I would hope that this would be addressed by an update fairly soon, as well as allowing access to the camera on the device. For an app that costs $0.99 this is good value. It is a job of a few seconds to put together a "quick and dirty" poster. There is no slight meant by that phrase and I expect users who like this sort of output to be downloading this in the thousands. Or more.

phoster phoster

This review -- now edited -- first appeared on the AMITIAE website on 24 May 2011.

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.



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