By Graham K. Rogers
As expected, many new and updated photo apps began to appear after the update to iOS 8. I recently looked at Manual, an interesting example of the use of the new manual controls now available to developers. Looking through the lists of new apps, I was attracted to Photo Wizard Pro primarily by the beautiful icon.
I anyone thinks it is not worth taking time over these files, which are usually only viewed in postage stamp size, think again. It is a good indication to me that a developer may care enough about all aspects of the app, so it draws me in. Screen shots also play a part here and with Photo Wizard Pro the displays were good enough to have me click on the buy button, even with its price of $2.99 which is not expensive, but slightly above what many basic photo apps are available for.
I was actually slightly disappointed when I first opened the app for a look as it appeared to be one that used filters for the effects - there are hundreds of these - but I quickly saw there was more to the app, with one or two odd design decisions.
The main screen opens with a test image in place: the rose on the screen shots in the iTunes app store. Above the image are four icons:
- Files, to access the photo library
- Camera which allows use of both cameras on the iPhone
- Edit - the icon is a circle with a pencil
Once an image is brought into the app, either through the cameras or by access to the photo library, pressing the Edit icon reveals a good set of options. When each is used, the user may accept (check mark) and work with other options, or reject and return to the main panel. Editing options are
- Filter provides a selection of 14 filters (plus None), including 3 monochrome examples.
- Effect has 7 options, most of which allow increase of intensity via sliders. One, Spot, gave a strong vignette-like effect using a circle that could be moved anywhere on the image and resized easily. Others, particularly Posterize, gave powerful output options.
- Focus has options of normal, which applied blur to the whole image; and a circle or parallel lines which add a Tilt-shift effect. The circle and lines may be positioned and resized. Focus intensity with all three options is controlled by a slider.
- Curve provides a simple graph that allows adjustments to the colour input levels to be made. This type of adjustment may need some experience for the best output and may not suit all users, but effects possible can be dramatic. There is a reset arrow that removes changes. An arrow to the right at the top of the graph will slide that panel away so that the image may be seen in full.
- Sticker provides a selection of cartoon-like images that may be pasted over a photograph.
- Text opens a section with a series of tools that allow characters to be typed on the image. As well as the basic typing tool that brings up the keyboard, there are also options for height and position, color, font and justification (left, center, right). I counted 243 fonts, including three Thai (Thonburi) fonts.
- Frames had a selection of 18 options, several of which I had not seen before.
- Tones gave access to 25 tone selections. Some were quite subtle, but others made changes to the coloring giving unusual output possibilities.
- Grunges were some 39 options for overlays to the image. The effects are light in some cases, but rather heavy in others. I feel this has been done better in other apps like Distressed FX, but this does not detract from their availability or use here. Such effects are something of a personal choice.
- Adjust reveals three sliders for making adjustments to saturation, brightness and contrast.
- Rotate has a number of useful options on top of the usual 90°, 180°, 270° and 360° possibilities; with mirror (left/right) and horizontal rotate. A slider also provides for minor straightening corrections.
- Crop reveals a grid overlay for a manual crop as well as fixed options (1:1, 3:4, 2:3 and 9:16). An icon at the side allows toggling of these options between landscape and portrait modes.
- Resize allows the user to enter new values for a resized image with horizontal/vertical either linked (to maintain the original aspect ratio) or unlinked. A selection of panels at the bottom allow for a quick selection of sizes from a quite small option to original size.
When adjustments have been made, the user may export the finished image in a number of ways. As well as Message, Mail, Twitter and Facebook, I could export to the Photo Library, assign to a contact, copy or print. Export also allows the user to use AirDrop to share with people nearby. I was not given any option to export the image to other apps.
In the day or so since I first downloaded the app, Photo Wizard Pro was updated to version 1.1 which fixed a bug with the text tool and another with the crop tool for iPhone 4S users.
While using the app, I wondered why the filter, effects and grunge options which use similar tools were not grouped together. Other tools, such as Text, Crop and Rotate would also have felt better were they together; but this is a minor criticism in terms of the overall design of the app.
I found that the range of editing options available in Photo Wizard Pro was quite large but not in any sense overwhelming, so a user with little photo-editing experience would be able to produce some interesting output, guided by the philosophy, "I like what I like".
For anyone looking for a quick and dirty tool for adjustments to images, this should be high on any list.
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.