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Android App Review: Pixel Animator: GIF Maker
Tue, 22nd Apr 2014
FYI, this story is more than a year old

The straight-forwardly named Pixel Animator: Gif Maker lets you make your own pixel animations and save them as gifs.

You know, like olden-day video game sprites. It does this in an easy, accessible manner, but with a few significant flaws.

If you have any experience with 2D animation, then the setup for Pixel Animator will be pretty familiar. You have a series of frames that you can draw on. Play those frames one after the other and if you've done your drawing right it'll look like an animation.

Once you've saved your comic (it refers to your animations as ‘comics', and as someone who understands what words mean I found this confusing) as a gif you have the option to share it by email, Bluetooth, messaging or Picasa, should you wish the world at large to see your awkward rendition of a cartoon man blinking (I know you can do more complex animations than that but I found blinking to be quite time consuming enough, thanks).

As with so many apps, and drawing/art apps in particular, the amount of fun you'll have is directly proportional to the size of your screen. On a tablet you could make some pretty cool stuff. On a smaller phone you might find yourself getting frustrated by the size of the buttons, and the relative hugeness of your fingertip compared with the pixels you're trying to accurately place.

And there's another problem for those with a smaller screen, and this is the deal-breaker. This app has pop-up ads, and on a smaller phone at least, these cover crucial controls, like the OK button that gets you out of the colour picker.

Now I understand the justification for pop up ads in apps, but it's one thing to have them appear (which is visually disruptive, but not ruinous) and quite another to have them appear over the top of necessary controls. It felt like I was being held hostage at times: “Oh sorry, did you want to save your work? Well not until you click this ad for Nivea body scrub.

If you wait long enough they will eventually go away, but in the meantime you just have to sit there and wait – or, as I'm sure they'd prefer, you could click the ad. But no thank you, Nivea body scrub. No thank you.

With a larger screen I'm willing to believe this would be less of a problem, or not even a problem at all. But it's this lack of attention to detail that puts a sour note on the whole experience.

Now I'm looking at things like button placement and interface layout and thinking is this really any good? Or is it just that I haven't found out how it's broken yet?

But doubts and ads aside, this is a fine animation tool. It's basic, but that's fine for what it's supposed to do. On a smaller device I wouldn't bother – even without the obscuring ads it's still annoyingly fiddly – but on a larger screen this is a fun way to make little animated gifs.