AMITIAE - Sunday 11 May 2014

Excellent but Subtle Image Work on iOS Devices with Litely

apple and chopsticks


By Graham K. Rogers


It is becoming harder to produce an iOS app with some new, special feature that will put it head and shoulders above the rest. This is especially so with photo apps, where filters, editing tools and other features all appear to have been done before. It is a rare app these days that stands out. This is a shame as even among new apps, there is some excellent work. A case in point is Litely: nicely made, interesting effects, workmanlike; but is it a star?

The app, Litely, that I downloaded earlier today has just appeared in the Best New Apps section of the iTunes App Store here, which suggested it was at least worth more than a glance. Initially, I liked what I saw: I am always drawn to good app icons, as this can indicate care from a developer. The screenshots too looked interesting. The filter-based approach here will be more than acceptable to many users.

As with like apps, the user has the choice between input from the photo library and the camera. I tried the library first, just as a check, then input from the camera. With each method, the image is imported into a panel that allows future access. It makes sense, that if there is a good image, we might want to work on it again and experiment with other output. Tapping on the image thumbnail makes it available for editing.

The full image is displayed in the editing panel, but as the app only works in portrait mode, on the iPhone this is quite small. Tapping the image once makes it larger, but I was not able to view the sides, except by turning the iPhone to left or right, so the accelerometer appears to play a part here. Tapping again displays the image fully.

In this form, just over half the screen is taken up by a the list of filters. A maximum of 6 can be seen, with Normal at the top. Scrolling down reveals the others. As the app arrives in its free state, there are 9 filters available. There are also three more filter sets (with 12 presets each), priced at $1.99.

I experimented by downloading the set named Venice and later added to this with the 12 monochrome presets in Cinder. These reminded me slightly of the filters available in Nik Software's Silver Efex Pro.

Litely Litely Litely

Differences between the various filters are subtle. It is not easy to detect a change in parts of a photograph when scrolling between filters, so trying to decide on the best output may be almost random for some.

I found it best to pay attention to a particular part of a photograph - the green of a leaf, the red of hanging clothes, the blue of a sun shade - so that I could produce the most satisfying output. I was particularly pleased with the monochrome filters, although the subtlety made it quite hard to settle on the best output in the short time I had.

Image from iPhone Camera

A number of additional controls are available for each filter: exposure, sharpness, vibrance and vignette. Each has a slider that is displayed on the image and adjustments are quite fine. Applying an effect can be rejected with an X or accepted with a check-mark. There is also a limited crop feature, with a choice of square or original. When this is used there is also an arrow for rotation, although there is no straighten tool.

Export of a finished image on my installation was possible to to Message, Mail, Twitter or Facebook. We may also save the image in the photo library, assign to a contact, copy or print. Email allowed several size options up to a maximum marked "Actual size": a respectable 3.7 MB. I edited a photo I had taken with the camera feature in the app and then cropped square. It was transfered to the Mac via PhotoStream and was 3.68 MB in Aperture. An export gave me a 16-bit file of 57.6 MB which I opened in Graphic Converter as an image of 43" x 43"

Library Image Edited on the iPhone

When I tried it on the Retina display iPad I have, I found that working on the images was easy with the screen size, although the iPad (not the most recent) lagged a little when loading an image or applying effects. Nonetheless, the output was certainly acceptable. Like the iPhone, Litely only works in portrait mode on the iPad. While I usually prefer to work on the iPhone with photographic apps, Litely does have certain advantage when used on the iPad.

Litely Litely

Library Images Edited on the iPad

I recommend Litely particularly for those willing to pay for the extra sets: especially the 12 monochrome presets in Cinder. It is a well-made app, but the style and effects may be too subtle for some and many of the features may already be available in other apps, although not so well done.

Graham K. Rogers teaches at the Faculty of Engineering, Mahidol University in Thailand where he is also Assistant Dean. 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. He is now continuing that in the Bangkok Post supplement, Life.



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