AMITIAE - Monday 16 April 2012
Filters and Other Effects for iOS Devices - Pix: Pixel Mixer
By Graham K. Rogers
OutlineI 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 MixerLike 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: iPhoneThe 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.
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.
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: iPadI 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.
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.
CommentsThere 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.
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