AMITIAE - Saturday 17 December 2011

A Worthy Addition to Photo Apps on the App Store: Pixlr-o-matic from Autodesk - Now Updated

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This item first appeared on my AMITIAE site on 28 August 2011. As that site is now non-operational, I am making some of the more interesting or useful articles available on eXtensions. The text includes information on an update to Pixlr-o-matic.

I keep trying quite hard not to download more photo apps for the iPhone. I have so many already; but when a free app comes across my radar and it is from Autodesk, it needs a closer look especially when it was listed in the App Store here as App of the Week.

About the hardest thing about Pixlr-o-Matic is the pronunciation. The rest is not only plain-sailing but there was such a rightness about this that as I was going through my first look at the app, I whispered to myself, "Oh, wow. . . ." That does not happen much these days.

Autodesk are of course responsible for AutoCAD. However, they have a number of other high-level professional applications and are venturing a little more these days into consumer areas. This free app looks professional and well-designed from the outset.

The opening screen is a greyscale image that looks like planking. Initially, images displayed are also monochrome, but after a second or so -- presumably when the app has accessed its data fully -- these change to colour. At the top left is an information icon (i) that reveals a daunting license agreement. Top right is a red bookmark icon that links to the online PIXLR site for online editing of images, which is also easy to use and went straight into my bookmarks list.

The app has an unusual three ways to select images: camera, photo library, and "try one of ours". This gives a user three quality images to play with. Once photographs have been used, there is also a "Last photo" image to click on adding another nice touch.

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I tried the provided images first (a bridge which is also shown on the screen shots on iTunes). The effects are applied in the same way for other inputs. The image is displayed in the main panel and below are two sets of controls. First is a slider for 25 effects, plus None. As each is moved into the viewfinder, so the effect is instantly applied, with about a second delay to bring it into full focus. These effects are selected by a film reel icon at the very bottom of the screen. With the update to version 1.3 a favourite effect can be marked by a star in the viewfinder. The order of effects is then changed with the favourites moved to the far left of the selector strip, next to None.

pixelator Next to the film icon is a light bulb which controls lighting effects. There are 31 here including None. Then we have frames. Some of these also add extra effects as well as the usual white border or vignetting: another 30 here. If my maths is correct this gives the possibility of 24,986 different versions for output from each image. Obviously, not all will please everyone: this is somewhat of a subjective choice. The favourite selection control can be applied to Lighting Effects and Frames.

Exporting the images needs them to be saved, which uses the last icon on the right of that lower toolbar: a floppy disk. Three options are displayed: a circular arrow to go back to the main screen; a double arrow to go back to the editing screen; and an export arrow.

An updated panel now has several options plus Cancel: Photo Library, iTunes, Facebook, Flickr, an online image sharing site related to Pixlr, Dropbox and Email. Now when exporting images to the Photo Library there are 5 options: Small, Medium, Large, Very Large and Original. That last selection gave me images of 2592 x 1936 (5.0MP) with a file size of 1.92MB. Certain frame selections might reduce the output sizes.

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A criticism I have made about a number of imaging apps for the iPhone recently has been the low resolution. There is no such problem here. The image of the San Francisco tram from the library which I used with the original app review was 2310 x 1536 (3.5MP) and a size of 861KB. The landscape image I took for the photograph test was exported to Aperture as 1936 x 2592. Exporting that image from Aperture as in my earlier review gave me a full size TIFF file of 30.1MB (36" x 26.89"): adequate for many needs.

I see no reason to change my earlier assessment. There is a sense of a job well done here. Even if a user has a large collection of apps for photography, this one should still find a place: easy to use, remarkable output, and good image size.




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