I love editing my photos almost as much as I love taking them. Experimenting with new techniques and styles in programs like Photoshop and Lightroom excites me! Now, with the inception of the smartphone, I find myself taking more photos than ever. However, editing photos on a smartphone is frustrating. Most programs have struggled to adapt from a desktop interface to the small, mobile smartphone interface.
Snapseed is the exception. Introduced by Nik Software, Snapseed is the first, mobile photo-editing software that is easy to use and provides the feature set of a desktop-native, editing program.
I’ll get the point.
Snapseed’s strength is its selective adjustment function. The programmers at Nik Software have decided to do without layers and convinced me this is the right move. Layers on small smartphone screens just do not work. I’ve used other programs, such as Filterstorm’s layers, and have become frustrated. Using layers involves too many clicks, toggles and steps for a small touch screen interface. Snapseed’s solution is its selective adjustment. The program lets you click points on your image and apply various different adjustments to each individual area. Click, hold and move the point to move the selected area.
Pinch the point with two fingers and you can control the size of the selected area.
Press and hold anywhere on the screen and the program lets you toggle between contrast, saturation and brightness.
Perhaps the most helpful tool is the magnifying glass that pops up above your finger allowing you to pinpoint the specific color or tone that you want to adjust. On a small screen, the use of a magnifying glass is stroke of genius on Snapseed’s part.
Snapseed’s weakness is its user interface. It’s not intuitive. For a new user, understanding the interface can be a bit tricky. Those of us used to seeing and clicking an actual adjustment tabs on a desktop will be confused by the lack of visible controls the first time using Snapseed. The program is visually austere. Finger movements and clicks reveal the hidden controls. Swiping up and down anywhere on the screen changes the function, while swiping left to right on the screen controls the adjustment. Once you begin to understand this movement it gets a little easier.
Center Focus – This is another one of my favorite functions in Snapseed. The center focus options range from blur, vignette, portrait, foggy, and old lens. After selecting one of these effects you can further adjust the blur strength, inner and outer brightness. These effects are great for adding pop to a photograph.
Tilt Shift – Tilt shift is standard now in most photo editing applications. Snapseed goes one step further and allows you to adjust the blur, contrast and saturation.
Vintage Film Effect/Grunge - I personally think Instagram and other retro-filter programs are better at this functionality.
Black and White – Snapseed give you a variety of black and white options. Those familiar with color filters applied to black and white photography will enjoy this function in Snapseed.
Frames – I’m not a huge fan of the program’s frames. All 8 frames are white and not distinct from one another. The program does allow you to change the width of the frames.
Drama – If you’re into the artistic/HDR look the drama section has some nice filters.
Other – The program also has basic editing functions as well: straighten and rotate, crop, take photo, and auto correct, adjust white balance, saturation, detail, etc.
The most powerful and easy to use smartphone editing app I’ve seen to date is Nik Software’s Snapseed. Is it worth the $4.99? Yes.