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Android App Review: Pixlr Express

08 Jul 2013

Pixlr Express is a free picture editor app for phones and tablets which lets you crop, resize and adjust pictures on your phone, plus add things like colour effects, text and graphics.

The interface is set up quite well – the undo option is right there in the corner along with the save button which is very handy, and when you save it creates a new file so your original picture remains undisturbed.

Some of the fancier (read: gimmicky) options can take a few moments to load, but not so long that I ever felt myself getting annoyed.

The crop tool is probably Pixlr’s most useful feature. It gives you a 3 x 3 grid that you can drag and adjust over your picture, which means you can line things up to the classic rule of thirds before trimming.

There’s also the option to crop to some standard fixed ratios like 4:3 or 10:9 which is handy if you’re intending to put your picture somewhere that has a particular layout (or you just want all your photos to be the same shape, for some reason).

When it comes to image adjustments (colour balance, blur, contrast etc.) Pixlr has lots of options, but I felt that it struggled a little in this department.

If Photoshop is a cupboard full of exotic herbs and spices, Pixlr is a fire hose spraying tomato sauce – it’ll change the flavour, sure, but not subtly and possibly not in a way you’ll be satisfied with.

I should add a disclaimer though: I’m a graphic designer who’s used to Photoshop, and I’m a bit of a klutz with a touch screen. Other people with cruder expectations, or more dextrous thumbs, might get better results.

Then there are the effects, which are unaccountably all named after people. Most of them are sort of sub-Instagram washouts that people over 21 will probably avoid.

But they’re there, and they’re easy to apply, if you want to quickly make something look like what people think sepia photographs look like if they’ve never actually seen a sepia photograph.

The overlays, borders, text and sticker options are all a bit naff, in my opinion, but no doubt someone will find a use for them. Again, I should add that disclaimer about being a snobby graphic designer.

Overall, this is a quick, handy picture editor that easily lets you crop, resize and basically colour-adjust your photos. Beyond that it has a lot of other options that, while I wouldn’t be willing to call them useful, are novelty enough to be considered fun (in the way that fun often makes your eyes hurt).

Realistically you’ll probably use a fraction of Pixlr’s features on a regular basis, but given that it’s a free app you’re still getting your money’s worth.

And bear in mind that Photoshop is hideously expensive, and most people use only a fraction of that as well.

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