October 25, 2014

App Review: Photoshop.com for Mobile

pssplash Photoshop. For Android. Yes indeed, the premier image editing brand has launched a free app for Android, and without a doubt that is a feather in Android’s cap. But forgetting the big brand name for the moment, how does the app stack up on its own merits? It’s a solid app essential for users of Photoshop.com; not without faults, but a quick candidate for best free image gallery app.

Of course, you can’t install this app expecting all the features of CS4–or the props and word bubbles of PicSay. Photoshop.com Mobile has a fairly narrow focus: it’s a polished gallery replacement that syncs with online storage and has a few editing functions to touch up your photos.

Gallery Replacement
psgallery The stock Android photo gallery is pretty spartan, and Photoshop is a big improvement, allowing you to browse through pictures with intuitive swipes and select a batch of photos for a slideshow. The user experience is slick and professional but for one fly in the ointment: it’s difficult to find the photos you want to look at in the thumbnail view.

First, it displays ALL the images on your phone. So to find that picture of my dog I’m looking for, I have to scroll past pointers from My Maps Editor, avatars from twitter and facebook,  etc. They’re all lumped together with no options to sort or filter. Exacerbating that problem, the app reloads thumbnails each time you scroll past them–even if they just loaded a moment ago. You end up spending a lot of time looking at a black screen, waiting for thumbnails to load.

Other apps have better ways of handling this. Photo BURST, for example, first shows you all the folders on your sdcard that have images in them. You can then drill down to the images you want to look at. You can also address the issue by creating empty files named “.nomedia” and placing them in in directories that you don’t want gallery apps to index, but that’s not a solution the average user will avail himself of.

Photoshop.com
psupload2If you already have a Photoshop.com membership, this app will give you easy access to photos stored there. If you don’t, you’ll need to set up an account to use the app. A free account gets you 2Gb of cloud storage; paid accounts start at  $20/year for 20Gb. That’s not a great deal compared to what Google offers with Picasa ($5/year for 20Gb), but hey, free is free.

Syncing with Photoshop.com is where the app shines. As long as you have a data connection, you can browse through photos stored online just like you can with ones on your phone, effectively freeing up SD card space. It’s easy to batch upload photos to Photoshop.com, and an auto-upload option will automatically upload every photo you take.  Either way, uploads chug along in the background whether you’re still using the app or not.

Editing photos
psexpose Once I figured out that editing functions are not the main point of this app, I was no longer disappointed that there are only nine editing functions: crop, straighten, rotate, flip, exposure, saturation, tint, black&white, and soft focus. No laundry list of crazy filters, just a few tools to make photos look better.

I’d much rather have white balance than tint, but the functions you get are all really well done. Each is controlled with intuitive gestures and many have nice touches. For example, when you straighten a photo, the app also zooms a bit as you rotate, eliminating what otherwise would be empty spots in the corners. In addition, the app allows multiple levels of undo.

psstraighten

Rather than running through each function, I suggest you watch Adobe’s video tutorial. It does a great job of detailing every function of the app.

Other issues

  • When you set an image as wallpaper, it just decides for you how to crop it. Results are not always optimal:
pswallpaper1 pswallpaper2
  • It’s always running in the background, taking up 14K of memory. End it with a task killer, and it will come right back. This sort of thing bugs the heck out of me.

Reviewed Using: G1 running Cyanogen 4.2.3.1
Presentation: One of the most polished apps I’ve come across. It’s a joy to use.
Value: For free, you get a great photo gallery app and 2Gb of cloud storage. If you already use Photoshop.com, it’s a no-brainer.
Stability/Resources: While the app never lagged or crashed, it always runs in the background, coming back like a zombie no matter how often you kill it.
AG Says: While other apps best many of its features, Photoshop.com Mobile fills a niche. Photo BURST is a better gallery with better sharing options, but lacks editing functions; PicSay offers more powerful image editing but lacks the polish of Photoshop. And while full versions of both Photo BURST and PicSay are paid, Photoshop is free and comes with cloud storage features neither of the others offers.
Rating: **** 4 Stars