Snapseed is one of the most popular photo editing apps for the iPhone, and for good reason. It’s incredibly easy to use, but at the same time it offers a powerful collection of tools that can turn a good iPhone photo into a great one. Just recently, Google (the developer behind Snapseed) released the long-awaited version 2.0 with a brand new interface and additional editing tools. In this article we’ll take a look at the highlights of the new Snapseed app and how it compares with the old version.
Despite its powerful editing tools, Snapseed is free to download from the App Store, so if you don’t currently have the app on your iPhone, you’ve got nothing to lose by installing it.
More Than Just A Facelift
The first thing you’ll notice with the new version of Snapseed is that the app looks completely different than it used to. At first, this can be a bit unsettling, especially if you were a frequent user of the old Snapseed and were quite attached to the user interface.
However, after you spend only a few minutes getting to know the new interface, you should feel quite at home. In fact, you may find that the new user interface is not only just as easy to use as the old one was, but it offers even more powerful control over your edits.
Different Look, Similar Approach
While the app looks very different, it still retains a similar organization of the editing tools contained within.
After opening your image, you’ll find that instead of the various tools being located across the bottom of the app in a horizontal scrollbar, they’re all accessed via the white circle with a plus (+) sign in the bottom right corner.
Clicking on the plus sign brings up the full menu of Tools and Filters. If you’ve used the old Snapseed, you’ll find that most of the tools are organized in a similar manner. You’ll still find features like Tune Image, Crop, the Selective Edit tool, Details, etc. All of these function in a similar manner to the old version.
You still slide your finger up and down on the screen to select the specific adjustment option and then swipe left and right to adjust the values of that setting.
New & Exciting Tools To Fine-Tune Your Photos
In addition to the old tools, the new version of Snapseed also offers a bunch of new tools including a Transform tool, Brush tool and Spot Repair tool.
The Transform tool is similar to various “skew” tools in other apps, and can be used to adjust perspective. One interesting thing to note is that when skewing your images, Snapseed fills in the missing pixels that result with more extreme adjustments (similar to an auto-clone tool).
The above screenshots show the before and after images when using the Transform tool. Look closely at the black spaces in the upper corners of the first image, and how they’ve been filled automatically in the second image using pixels from the surrounding area.
The Brush tool is similar to a “dodge and burn” tool which is used to selectively adjust exposure by painting the changes on with your finger. You can choose to “brush” in adjustments to Exposure, Temperature and Saturation.
There’s also an aptly named Dodge and Burn feature in the Brush tool that functions similarly to the Exposure tool, but with a greater degree of subtlety for fine-tuning the bright and dark areas of your photo.
The Spot Repair tool is a simple yet effective spot “healing” tool to remove blemishes and other small objects from your images. This isn’t as powerful as a full-featured clone tool, but for most small spot removals it works great.
In the above example I wanted to remove the small dark spot in the upper left corner. Simply tap the spot you want to remove and the app does the rest!
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Filters To Feed Your Creativity
Below the Tool categories in the pop-up menu, you can find all of the Filter options. Like with the Tools, you’ll find some of your old favorites such as Vintage, Drama and Retrolux. However, you’ll also find some new Filters as well as some new takes on older ones.
Before we look at those, it should be noted that a curious omission in the Filters section is the loss of the Grunge filter. If this wasn’t your cup of tea, then no worries. But if you liked to use the Grunge filter even occasionally (as I did), it’s an unfortunate change. However, the plethora of new options does, in some ways, make up for this shortcoming.
The Lens Blur filter is a new take on the old Blur tool. It works in a similar manner to the old one, but the effect is more natural and better simulates the effect of lens blur in a DSLR.
You can choose between a radial (round) blur, and a linear blur similar to a tilt-shift effect. You can also change the shape of the bokeh effect when blurring strong light sources.
The new Glamour Glow filter allows you to soften your images, which results in a nice glow effect.
Probably one of the most exciting new features is the Tonal Contrast filter. This ingenious tool allows you to separately adjust the contrast of the high (light), middle, and low (dark) tones as well as tweak the highlights and shadows accordingly. This offers a level of contrast control not found in most other apps.
View Your Edit History With Stacks
From the main screen, tapping on the small number in the top toolbar will bring up your edit history. This is a great way to review your edits and even adjust some of them. Tapping on a specific edit opens a small menu to the side that will give you the option of adjusting that particular edit or deleting it from the “Stack” altogether.
With so many other apps featuring a detailed edit history, it’s no surprise that Snapseed now features this as well. However, Snapseed’s unique take on this feature is even more flexible.
There are a couple of features in the new Snapseed that could almost be considered “hidden” as they’re not that obvious at first glance, but they’re definitely ones that you should know about. Let’s take a look at them below.
The first “hidden” feature is something that Snapseed users have been requesting for quite some time, and that’s the ability to pinch-zoom into your photo to see how changes affect it in a close-up mode.
At any point, simply pinch in or out to utilize this feature. You’ll also see a guide in the lower left corner to show you which part of the image you’re seeing. You can drag the blue rectangle around to move the part of your image that you see.
The second feature is one that really made me excited about this new version of Snapseed more than any other update. When you’re using the Stacks mode to review/edit your history, you can revisit each of the tools/filters that you’ve applied and essentially re-apply them selectively with a simple masking brush tool.
When you tap on an item in the Stacks to open the pop-out menu to the left, you’ll see a paintbrush icon if the feature allows for selective editing. Tap on the icon, and you can then adjust that “layer” of your edit so that the changes you made originally will now only affect the selected area that you designate with your finger.
It must be noted that you can only selectively apply the same changes you made with that feature originally (with some degree of adjustment). If you want to completely change the level of the effect that you originally applied, you’ll need to delete that edit from the Stack and go back into that Tool or Filter to recreate it.
Interactive Help Feature
One last highlight of the new Snapseed is the interactive help that’s available. From within any Tool or Filter, simply tap on the question mark (?) in the upper left corner and you’ll be presented with a brief demo of how that feature works.
What’s particularly fantastic about this feature is that the demo is done using the photo you’re currently working on, rather than some stock image.
Snapseed 2.0 was a long time coming, but in the end, it was worth the wait. With a slew of powerful new editing tools all wrapped up in an updated, yet still easy-to-use interface, this is one of the few editing apps that just about every iPhone photographer should have on their device.
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