Monday, May 14, 2012

All-in-one Android photo app lacks usability

Photo applications for smartphones usually come in one of three flavors: those that are designed around one or two really interesting effects, those that offer the ability to throw some text or pre-made borders and art on your shots, and those that apply Photoshop-esque filters to your photos to make them more artsy.

PicsArt Photo Studio is an amalgamation of all three of those types of apps, with a feature set that combines the best (and worst) of all three. There are so many options in this free app that, if anything, the sheer volume of options is overwhelming.

If you've got a particular effect in mind, whether it's applying shapes, filters, text, contrast/brightness adjustments, borders, or blur, then you can probably get the job done. It may take some extra cajoling to get the photo where you want it, but if you're looking for a do-almost-everything photo app, you're in the right place.
Our main complaint with the app comes down to usability — specifically a lack of interface uniformity (a runaway problem with the Android OS itself, as well as its many apps) and a hitch between moving sliders and seeing a preview of your image.

The latter problem is more a matter of patience than anything, but it makes very small adjustments to some filters more difficult than they are in some other apps. That being said, the fact that each filter has sliders at all provides a level of granular control that many apps of this type simply don't have—including Instagram for Android.

The lack of interface uniformity is a bit of a pain, however, with the app's many modes seemingly governed by different design principles. Even something seemingly simple like an "undo" key is often found in different places depending on what part of the app that you're in. It's a small complaint, but it's the kind of thing an app this complex needs to sort out in future versions.
Overall, we're very impressed with PicsArt Photo Studio. Sure, just about everything it offers can be found in different apps, but the key there is the fact that you'd have to download several programs to do all the things PicsArt can do for free in just one. If you've got an Android device and you want to edit photos on the go, PicsArt Photo Studio is a one-stop shop you'll want along for the ride.
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