Like many photographers I've had a serious aversion to using smartphones for photography. But that has certainly changed as phones and their cameras have evolved. Most of my behind the scenes images these days are shot with an iPhone 6+, my current smartphone. The camera, in my view, is extremely good, including hard coded image stabilization and other features once reserved for standalone point and shoot cameras.
Similarly, I have not been terribly fond of mobile photo editing software. The native Apple solution on iOS devices is rudimentary at best. But until very recently Camera+ was perhaps my favorite. It is still very much a delightful app. And until Google released version 2 of Snapseed for iOS, it was my go to mobile solution.
I updated to the new version of Snapseed on my iPad Air 2, and two iPhone 6+. At first I tried the app on one phone, and was satisfied with the offering. But the larger screen real estate of the iPad gave me a wow moment. This is the most well thought out mobile photo editing application I've seen in a while. Just what is so out of the ordinary about it?
1. Layers. Yes, layers. This is even way ahead of Lightroom Mobile, which in many ways is very much tied to the desktop and can only do basic adjustments. Although, the advantage it offers is that it syncs back to the desktop.
2. Granular adjustments. You can separately adjust midtones, shadows, highlights, sharpness, film grain, etc.
3. Masking. You can display a mask as an overlay so brush adjustments can be clearly seen. And yes, you can use brushes to apply specific adjustments.
4. Dodging and burning. This was simply amazing to me. That a mobile device allows a sophisticated, yet simple approach, to dodging and burning is incredible. You can literally contour the face of a subject in a portrait, or specifically create a dynamic contrast look in any image.
Of course, the app is not perfect. In the iOS version, once you've finished editing and save the image, I found the next step a bit unintuitive. A button that says "new image" rather than "open" would be helpful. Additionally, saving the image to Google Drive is not even an option. That is somewhat surprise for a Google product, given Google's push towards integration. The photo can only be saved to the camera roll. There after it must use one of the traditional methods to share - email, message, etc.
Notwithstanding these minor concerns, whether you're an amateur, enthusiast, or professional photographer who wants to incorporate your mobile devices (iOS and Android), this Google product is a winner. It can be downloaded free from the Google Play Store or the Apple App Store. You can't go wrong with this one.