AMITIAE - Saturday 2 August 2014

PosterLabs: Nicely Crafted App with Limited Editing and Export Abilities

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By Graham K. Rogers


I am rather fond of the poster as a form of output because one that is well-designed can convey clear messages to those who view it. I have used several of my own images for poster-style printing (see below), usually working in Posterino on the Mac after exporting large images from Aperture. Posterino is also available on the Mac App Store.

The iPhone is a little different of course, but it is a device that I also use to great effect; and with the Eye-Fi SD cards, can send JPG images directly from my Nikon to the iPhone (or iPad) for further adjustments. Among the uses might be editing in a number of apps, such as Halftone, for cartoon style output, or creating a poster. I have been using Phoster on the iPhone since May 2011 and this was able to produce quite respectably-sized images. As this was on my previous (AMITIAE) site, I will edit the review I did then and repost.

Recently, a nice looking (and free) app appeared in the iTunes App Store here with a description that suggested it could also be used for poster output: PosterLabs - Stylish Collage. At first glance, this appears to be a really well-made app, with some beautiful screens, taking advantage of the Retina display of the Phone.

Like the best apps, it does the one task it is designed for simply. The opening screen has two choices: New Poster and Goodies. Rather than the in-app purchases that a lot of apps would offer with something called, "Goodies", the user is offered several extra templates for making posters and (as far as I can see) there is no additional charge. A plus point, for sure.

PosterLabs PosterLabs PosterLabs

The "New Poster" option accesses the iPhone photo library (asking permission the first time). At the top of the screen are "Back" and "Cancel" options. At the bottom, there is the information for a user: You can select up to 5 photos. As soon as 1 image is chosen, the black New Poster button changes to red and shows the number of photos selected. Pressing this, instantly creates a poster with those images selected.

The default selection may be changed using the poster thumbnails at the bottom of the screen, listed in two sections: Classic and Stylish. In this way, posters in many styles can be created; but this is where it begins to unravel for me.

With the posters, there is a text heading and some additional information. Some of the text may include the user's current location, weather conditions and other text. Only a few of the posters can be edited, so the output depends on the style of the poster and someone else's decisions. This may be fine if the user is content with this type of output and I am sure that this will keep many younger Facebook users happy; but it does limit the personal design aspect.

An example is the nice poster marked, "Punk" (an overworked word) that actually has a nice design. It changes the imported images to monochrome and this is balanced nicely by the gold lettering. Just below, the heading are the words, "Italian Job" - not the location of my photographs, of course.

As a mark of what I see as imbalance here, each of the photographs imported to a poster can be edited separately, using a set of 15 filters (plus, no effect). The image output has a host of ways in which a user may change the visual aspects, but locks the user in to specific texts. I am sure many will not be the slightest bit bothered by this.

PosterLabs PosterLabs PosterLabs

Three Examples of Output from PosterLabs

I am also bothered by output. Pressing Save, at the top of the screen, puts a copy of the image into the photo library. The size is disappointing, however, at 800 x 1200 (304 KB) for the Punk poster. This was the same size for a poster I created earlier, although that image was smaller at 234 KB. They display fine on this page too, of course.

PosterLabs There are several export options: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Line, Moments, Sina Weibo, Qzone, WeChat, QQ friends and Tencent Weibo. These indicate the audience that this app is intended for is not grumpy old guys who take lots of photos, like me, but those for whom social networking sites are a part of life.

Despite its excellent design and the large number of poster options available within the app, or for free download, there are limits to what PosterLabs can do. The restrictions on editing text may not worry many users. Nor will the small size of images created as the output will appear looking quite good on the sites it is exported to and on web pages.

PosterLabs is a simple app which does well what it is designed to do. I will not be keeping this on my iPhone, but many users will find its easy-to-use interface and well-designed poster templates nice to use.

See also:

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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