App review: Snapseed for Android

Snapseed Google Play - for some reason we don't have an alt tag here

Snapseed is a photo editing app that has gained quite a large following and received a ton of praise on iOS, but until just a few days ago, it wasn’t available on Android. Recently acquired by Google, it was only a matter of time before an Android port would be released, and I have to admit that – now that it’s here – Snapseed is quickly becoming my favorite photo editing app on my ASUS Nexus 7, even taking the place of my tried-and-true PicSay Pro.

One of the reasons I’m enjoying Snapseed so much is that it’s so incredibly powerful, and yet so simple to use. Seriously, even my dog could probably figure it out.

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When you open Snapseed for the first time, you’re greeted with a sample image that you can play around with in order to get the hang of things. There’s an automatic auto correct option, which subsequently lets you adjust the contrast to your liking. Adjustments are made by swiping your finger left or right anywhere across the image, rather than by moving the bar on the bottom – that seems a bit odd at first, but you’ll catch on quickly and probably come to prefer this method of making adjustments on a touchscreen device.

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Another option is selective adjust, which allows you to make very precise selections and enhancements to specific areas of your photos in seconds. And if you’re ever confused as to how to proceed with an option like this while you’re editing your photos, you can click the question mark that appears in the upper right-hand corner of most screens. This will cause an overlay of instructions to appear, which you can quickly dismiss again by tapping anywhere on the screen.

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The option to tune your image allows you to adjust the brightness, white balance, saturation, and more. There are also options to straighten your picture plus or minus 10 degrees, or rotate your picture by 90 degree increments. Again, straightening is done with simple, intuitive gestures. You can also crop your pictures using standard aspect ratios or free-style.

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Various creative enhancements include Black & White, Vintage Films, Drama, and Grunge – you just have to kind of play around with some of these to really get a feel for how they’ll change your picture. Center Focus is a feature that allows you to blur and adjust the brightness of the background, thereby drawing more attention to the main subject of your photo. Organic frames offer a variety of special borders, and you can also adjust the width. And finally, Tilt-Shift allows you to create a narrow area that remains in focus, which thereby simulates depth of field – Snapseed says this is common in a miniature scene look.

Perhaps one of my favorite features in Snapseed is the “Compare” button that appears towards the bottom of the screen, whenever you’re making any edits. Long pressing this button allows you to see what you picture looked like before that particular edit, so you can quickly and easily tell whether or not you made the picture better or worse.

When opening a picture to edit, it doesn’t necessarily have to be stored directly on your device, either. Since the Android gallery also displays all of your Google+/Picasa photos and albums, you can also open any of them that are stored in the cloud. Sharing your edited photos on Google+ is a breeze, too – obviously, Google would want to make this particular feature as seamless as possible.

As you can see, there are quite a lot of various things you can do with your photos, and perhaps most amazing of all is that this app is completely, 100% free. It’s among the most powerful of the free photo editors available, and it’s bound to get better as Google develops it further. Granted, it is missing a few features that hardcore photography enthusiasts might want – but for an everyday guy like me, it’s perfect.

And who knows what the future of this app has in store – perhaps one day this will be integrated into future versions of Android itself! But in the meantime, though, I’d highly recommend downloading it and checking it out for yourself. I’m not a photo-editing expert by any means, but I like what I see here, and it’s what I’m going to use almost exclusively on Android from here on out.

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Download: Google Play

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John F

John was the editor-in-chief at Pocketables. His articles generally focus on all things Google, including Chrome and Android, although his love of new gadgets and technology doesn't stop there. His current arsenal includes the Nexus 6 by Motorola, the 2013 Nexus 7 by ASUS, the Nexus 9 by HTC, the LG G Watch, and the Chromebook Pixel, among others.

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