Snapseed

There are so many photo editing and enhancement apps in the Google Play Store and Apple App Store it can be hard to decide which one(s) to get. With dozens to choose from and, it has to be said, all very similar, which one is best? Google Snapseed is an excellent tool that can be used to apply special effects to your snapshots and bring out the colour and detail.

This Google app is free on both Android and iOS and it works great big screen smartphones like the Samsung Galaxy S4 and S5, the iPhone 5 and 6. Like many other photo editing apps, it enables you to load a photo and apply various filters. Even the filters are similar to rivals, but Snapseed stands out because it has one of the best user interfaces of apps of this type. It is the ease of use as much as the clever filters that make Snapseed so good.

You start by either taking a photo with the camera or by loading one you took previously and stored in the Camera Roll (iOS) or Gallery (Android). The app works in both portrait and landscape modes and a large thumbnail of the photo is displayed on the screen and either at the left or at the bottom of the screen are all the special effects that can be applied contained in filter packs.

Snapseed for iOS  .  Snapseed for iPhone

You swipe through the filter packs and tap one to select it. With simple effects you then swipe left and right across the screen to apply less or more of it. When adjusting the brightness for example, you swipe right to increase it and left to decrease it and this is pretty much the pattern of all filters.

There is a button in the top right corner of the screen that shows the original image, and this allows you to flick back and forth between the original and edited version to see the difference. If you are happy with the effect you applied, you then tap the tick button at the bottom. The cross cancels the effect and restores the original

Some of the filter packs contain multiple effects, so if you select Black and White for example, there are brightness, contrast and grain effects. Swiping up and down the screen selects the effect you want, then swiping left or right applies less or more. This system of selecting effects and applying them is really easy to learn and use, and it makes the app more fun to use.

Sometimes you have to tap the spot on the screen where you want to apply the filter, such as when blurring everything but the subject. Occasionally you use pinch and spread to shrink or grow the selected area.

Snapseed for iPhone  .  Snapseed

The filter packs include Tune Image, Straighten, Crop, Details, Black and White, Vintage, Drama, HDR Scape, Grunge, Center Focus, Tilt-Shift, Retrolux and Frames. Many of these contain two, three or four different effects.

This has been done many times before by dozens of other apps, yet this is the only one I have kept on my phone. It is straightforward to use and it does not get sidetracked with social networking or other functions that are not core to the app. It just applies filters and then lets you save them or post them online.

Go and get Snapseed for iOS or Android.