By Graham K. Rogers
There is a famous Bob Newhart sketch in which he uses the idea of an infinite number of monkeys. If they had access to an infinite number of typewriters, sooner or later they would type all the great works.
A great number of apps as well as Apple's own Photos, use filters as a way to apply effects to images quite quickly. The limitation here is that the user is restricted to the developer's choice (subjective). Some apps have tried to go round the limitations, for example by using sliders to reduce the effect; while a couple I have looked at recently (e.g. Polarr which is also available for the Mac) allow a user to save the adjustments applied as a user-generated filter.
A new app, Infltr ($2.99), takes a different approach. Instead of filters, the fingers are used to make infinite adjustments: up and down to change the image; left and right to change the filtering. The simplicity, makes the app child's play, but the output is so variable (and to an extent unpredictable) that there may be an infinite number of filters.
Filtering Images and Photo Direct from Camera Input
When the app first opens there is a series of help screens. In general use, the first screen available accesses the camera. A filter is being applied at this stage, but the finger controls the screen coloring: instant filter. Users may also adjust the resolution: rectangular or square; and a vignette option is also available. When a photo is taken like this, the image saved in Photos may be edited to return it to an original state, with no filter applied: the best of both worlds.
At the bottom of the screen are four controls: the camera button in the center; access to the Photos library at left; the control to toggle square or rectangular cropping; and the vignette toggle.
Accessing the Library displays 4 export options at the bottom of the screen, plus Trash. At top center is an icon like three sliders. Pressing this allows the filtering to be applied to the currently-selected image. As the image is adjusted, a large spot is displayed that changes colour as it is moved.
When done, the image is saved or duplicated and can also be exported. Facebook, Twitter and Instagram were available for me. However, an unusual addition was the ability to export any image directly to Adobe options: Creative Cloud, Lightroom, Illustrator or Photoshop.
Images saved are full resolution and around 2 MB, but when the camera is used, no GPS data is available. In an otherwise interesting app, this omission is unusual. I initially thought that there was no way to save the adjustments made. The developers contacted me via Twitter and pointed out that there is a way to save filters in Infltr: or at least the applied effect. When an edited image is opened again in the app, a green + button appears at bottom right. I was then able to apply that to the image shown by the camera, but I was not able to apply that effect to photographs saved in the library.
What I also found was that in Photos, the app appears as an extension, so that same method of applying filters is available from directly within Photos. The app works just as well on the iPad as the iPhone and is a good addition to the usual types of photo apps that are available, particularly with its extra features, including export options.
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. He is now continuing that in the Bangkok Post supplement, Life.