App Review: Snapseed


Snapseed for iOS is a versatile image editing app with all the features an iPhoneographer would want, packed into a user-friendly and easy-to-look-at UI.


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Snapseed for iOS is a great app for editing images, and many photographers (including myself) went to it for their quick edits. The latest update came not too long ago on Dec. 15 and brought it some behind-the-scenes tweaking with no visible changes.

So what’s up with Snapseed for iOS? Will it ever be updated for the larger screens of the iPhone 6s? The app’s functionality hasn’t changed since it added the HDR Scape and Shadow feature (in Tune Image) a while back.

Snapseed for iOS was a photo editing app released by Nik Software Inc. in 2011. It used their U-Point technology that enabled quick local editing capabilities.
Nik Software was purchased by Google in late 2012, creating outcry from photographers all over, worried about the fate of the great products by Nik. In 2013, Snapseed for desktop ceased production, while Google claimed the mobile apps would remain.

Fastforward to present day, and we see that Snapseed for iOS is still here—albeit with no new functionality or UI changes from its time in 2013.

[av_heading heading=’Functionality’ tag=’h3′ style=” size=” subheading_active=” subheading_size=’15’ padding=’10’ color=” custom_font=” av_uid=’av-6jb84c’][/av_heading]

What I really like about this app is its effective tools done very efficiently. Passing a photo through Snapseed takes little time and within seconds, my editing can be completed just the way I like it.

When selecting an image to edit, the app defaults to previewing the photo before importing it in tis workspace. This was a new feature that I personally didn’t like as it added one extra step in the workflow. I didn’t know until much later, however, that you can turn this feature off by going into Settings > General > Snapseed > Show Image Preview and turning it off.

I use this app for primarily these features:
-Selective Adjust
-Tune Image
-HDR Scape

  • Selective adjust is a great tool when you want to adjust only a certain part of your image. You’re able to boost the area’s brightness, contrast, and saturation.
  • Within Tune Image lays a number of creative options: Brightness, Ambiance, Contrast, Saturation, Shadows, and Warmth. Which option I use depends on the photo I’m editing. Ambiance does a great job at increasing the overall saturation of the image in an even and subtle manner. Shadows does a great job at opening up the darker areas of your photo. With Warmth, you can control how cold or warm you want the photo to look.
  • Details gives you the option of changing the Sharpening and Structure of your image, with the latter option giving you more definition/depth to objects in your photo.
  • The Drama filter has always been a favourite amongst many people ever since it was released. It heightens up features within your photo and gives it a look of greater contrast within details.
  • HDR Scape produces HDR-like photos using one exposure. I normally don’t like overly HDRed images, but a real subtle application of this option can create that extra special touch to your images.

[av_heading heading=’User Interface’ tag=’h3′ style=” size=” subheading_active=” subheading_size=’15’ padding=’10’ color=” custom_font=” av_uid=’av-3t526k’][/av_heading]

Open the app and you’re confronted with all of your imaged editing options on the bottom. Scroll through and you’ll see everything from Selective adjust, Tune Image, Crop, Details, Black and White, Vintage, and more.

Select one of these options to reveal more finer editing controls that can transform your image into exactly what you’re looking for. If you scroll up or down on your image at this point, you’ll be able to see the editing options for that specific tool. Scroll left or right and you’ll change that option. It’s that easy.

What I find really useful is the icon of the mountain on the top right of each editing screen (see screen capture below). Once pressed, you can immediately see the “before” image to see exactly how much you’ve changed the image from before you entered that editing tool.

[av_heading heading=’Final Thoughts’ tag=’h3′ style=” size=” subheading_active=” subheading_size=’15’ padding=’10’ color=” custom_font=” av_uid=’av-367noc’][/av_heading]

It’s not certain what Google may do with Snapseed’s fate, but until it decides, myself—and thousands of other photographers—will be sure to keep using it while we still can. I love it because it’s efficient to use, and produces great results in each of its settings.

Selective Image option in Snapseed for iOS
Selective Image option in Snapseed for iOS
Drama option in Snapseed for iOS
Drama option in Snapseed for iOS
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