Category: Iphone

Photoshop Mobile

Photoshop Mobile Mobile (Version

Released in late 2009 the Official Adobe Photoshop Application is downloadable for free.  While it obviously can’t provide all the functionality of Photoshop itself, it does allow the Iphone user to make basic image manipulations.

The Screen shows four key menus for altering images, with functions placed in a logical order so that it makes sense to work left to right.

The first menu helps tweak composition, with Crop, Straighten, Rotate and Flip tools.  The crop tool unsurprisingly creates a box, the corners of which can be dragged to position where the image will be cropped.  The Straighten tool creates a grid marking over the image, which can then be rotated by dragging a finger up or down either side of the screen.  Compared to the user interface for straightening found in photogene v2.5, this is far easier to control, and the grid lines make it simple to line up a horizon horizontally, or a building vertically.  To keep things simple, there is also a rotate tool which works in the same way but without the gridlines, so an image can be turned in 90 degree steps.  Finally in this section, there is a flip tool.  Using the Iphones facility to interpret swipes of a finger, to flip the image vertically an up/down swipe is needed, and for a mirror image a left right swipe is used.

Composition Tools

Composition Tools

After the composition is completed, the user moved onto the next set of tools, which we can call colour.  The first tool here is Exposure to brighten or darken an image.  Again this tool, as do most others, allow the user to swipe left to right to increase exposure (brighten), or right to left to decrease exposure (darken the image), in total there appear to be steps of +/- 64 settings for exposure, which should allow accurate adjustments.  Saturation (how vivid the colours appear) and Contrast (darkens darks, lightens lights) works in exactly the same manner as the exposure control, by swiping either left to right to increase Saturation or Contrast, and right to left to decrease.

The final two options under the colour menu are black and white, which converts an image to greyscale, and Tint.  By swiping left/right on the screen tint converts the image so that it uses varying brightness of the same colour.

After the colour menu we move onto a filter menu, with three options: Sketch, Soft Focus and Sharpen.  Sketch appears to apply a posterising effect, reducing the number of colours used in an image.  Swiping left to right changes the strength of this effect (number of colours used).

Soft Focus appears to reduce the contrast of an image, which would perhaps be a nice effect on a close up portrait to give a flattering skin effect.  On my Iphone I found the controls for this tool slightly unwieldy, but with trial and error it is possible to apply a subtle effect.  While the application has an indicator to show how the strength of the soft focus effect which indicates that there are 254 different strength steps, in reality it appears there are about five.

Sharpening allows the user to increase definition of an image, which is important on all digital images and should be the last step of manipulation.  On an Iphone this is a particularly important tool due to the relatively low quality of lens and tiny sensor.  The tool seems to work well and allows fine tuning of sharpening so an appropriate amount can be set.

In the final menu, there are two tools.  Firstly Effects offers a selection of 7 presents is varying usefulness.  Vibrant appears to boost saturation, contrast and sharpening, so is a simple way of making an image appear clear and attractive.  ‘Pop’ applied an Andy Warhol type effect, replicating the image 4 times in a square with different tints. Vignette Blur applies a blur effect to the edges of an image; this can be effective in giving a narrow depth of field effect, so that for example a person is a portrait is separated from a complex background. Warm vignette appears to soften an increase the colour an image; I can barely detect a vignette being applied. Rainbow gives an alternative set of tinted stripes. White glow brightens and image and reduces contrast and finally black and white reduced contrast and creates a grey scale image.  While Vibrant, and vignette blur may be useful timesavers, I see the other effects and gimmicks that I doubt will be used very often.

Prior to saving the photo, it may be nice to add a frame.  As mentioned in my Photogene 2.5 review, a thin black frame helps define the edges of pale images on a white background, so is useful for Flickr and Facebook. The Borders tool offers eight present frames, with white rectangle, rounded rectangle and oval, a faded rectangle, rounded rectangle and oval, a film emulsion effect and an effect called halftone (shown below).  It is not possible to edit these borders.

Emulsion Frame

Emulsion Frame

Halftone Border

Halftone Border

To finish the image can be saved, and uploaded to

Verdict: Nice range of tools, although lacking the precise control given by Photogene, Photoshop Mobile has a slicker user interface.

Price: £Free!

Pros: Interface, Price

Cons: Has a tendancy to crash on my 3G Iphone, no custom borders/levels controls.

Photogene Title PagePhotogene offers a variety of image editing tools previously unavailable to the Iphone.  Arranged in a series of icons on the left of the screen (portrait or landscape),the tools are easy and intuitive to select and apply the to a photo.  As with most Iphone photo applications, the user can either take a new photo from within the application, or select a new photo from the picture library.

The tools are arranged in a logical order, so typically one will can work from the top tool down to the bottom, however it is possible to use the tools in any order, or go back and tweak an effect.

Crop: The first step is to crop a picture to improve composition, perhaps remove distractions from the edges of the frame.  With the Iphone’s (3g at least) poor close focusing this is useful to get a small subject to dominate the frame.  To crop, like in photoshop, corners of a new frame are dragged into position, prior to a crop being applied.

Mirror/Rotate: Perhaps less useful, but nice to have, the application has options to rotate in 90 degree steps, flip the photo vertically or horizontally.  A slider is available for more subtle rotations, maybe to straighten a horizon.

Filters: Photogene currently has a set of 7 filters to choose from.  On the Iphone I often find some Sharpening can really help an image “Pop”.  A sepia splitone can be an effective way of presenting some picture, and can be applied in varying degrees.  The other filters are perhaps less essential, Pencil, Blur, Posterise, Night Vision, and Heatmap.  A Black and White filter is available, which converts the picture to black and white, surprisingly. However this is 2 colour black and white, not a greyscale option.  A slider can be used to adjust the brightness level where black or white is chosen.

BLack and White Filter Screen Shot

Black and White Filter

Colour Adjust: The Colour Adjust menu includes Photogene’s most useful tools.  Firstly, there is a levels control, common in most photo editing software, but I’ve not seen this elsewhere on an Iphone app.  Slight adjustments using the levels control can give pictures an effective contrast boost, particularly to make sure that blacks are black. After levels, there are exposure and contrast controls, however these are possibly surplus to requirements to a user happy working with the levels tool.



A colours option allows adjustment of the pictures saturation and colour temperature using a pair of sliders.  Desaturating an image allows creation of conventional black and white images, although I would normally do this before adjusting levels.  I have rarely wanted to use the colour temperature

control, usually being happy with the Iphone’s auto colour temperature on image capture, however it is nice to know the option to adjust this is there if needed.

Saturationan Colour Temperature

Saturation and Colour Temperature

The final tool under colour adjustment is to adjust the RGB settings.  Again, I have rarely used this tool, but it can be used to give a tint to an image, again with three sliders for red, green and blue.

Symbols tools allow the user to insert coloured shapes onto the phone, such as speech bubbles, stars etc.  A small choice of fonts in available to place text onto these shapes, after a chosen shape has been dragged onto the picture and sized to suit.

The final tool is allows a selection of frames.  A good variety of choices is available, such as square, and rounded with customised line colour and thickness.  When posting a picture to a website with a white background (facebook, flickr), a think black frame is great for marking the edge of a pale picture from the background. Options are available to give shadow effects to the frame.

After editing is completed, Photogene allows the photo to be saved at a custom resolution, and then exported directly to a selection of social media sites, including facebook and twitter.

Verdict:  The most feature packed image editing app I’ve found for the Iphone.

Cost: £1.99

Pros: Number of tools, simple interface, not crashed yet

Cons: Potentially over complex, without presets it can take a while to get the desired ‘look’ and so maybe overkill for a mobile phone app? app is free.