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Adobe Photoshop Express for Android taken for a spin, leaves me a little unsatisfied

From the outset, a smartphone photo manipulation app is a fantastic idea. Thanks to the turtleneck mafia, awful-and-noisy-built-in-camera photography has become something far bigger than most of us expected -- who could've predicted that the iPhone would become the most popular camera on Flickr in under two years? But now, ladies and gentlemen, it 's the turn of the Android. With dozens of new Android handsets emerging every month, and with the Android market share creeping ahead of the iPhone, it's now time to talk about Android photography.

There's a bit of a problem, though: most photo manipulation software for Android phones smells worse than a Titan's loincloth. Mashable has a list of them, but they're all plagued with inadequacies and bugs; some are slow and some simply don't work on newer phones!

Enter Photoshop Express for Android. From Adobe you'd expect nothing short of a photo editing miracle app, but alas that isn't the case. Photoshop Express is certainly useful -- and it is a very polished, professional app that's free of bugs -- but I just wish it did a bit more. I wish it wasn't so annoyingly devoid of obvious, easy-to-implement features.
From the outset, Photoshop Express is very smart. You're welcomed with a pretty, blue Adobe splash screen, and then you're shown all of the photos currently on your phone. You can start editing right away, or choose a photo to upload.


You also have the option of viewing your online photos (those stored at Photoshop.com), but here's my first gripe: you can't download photos to your phone! I wanted to edit one of my Photoshop.com photos, but the app simply won't let me. I have no idea why Adobe has locked it down in this way -- perhaps to provide a 'new feature!!1' for the next release? (Also, look at the Phone/Online tabs in the image above -- notice how the 'depressed' look indicates which tab you're on. I don't like it!)

Back to editing, then. Either select a photo already on your phone, or push the hardware camera button to take a new photo. This is the screen you'll see:
Beneath those four headings there are a variety of functions. Here's a complete list (don't worry, there aren't many): crop, straighten, rotate, flip, exposure, saturation, tint, black & white, contrast, brightness, soft focus, effects, and borders. Most of these are self-explanatory, and they all do the same thing as their desktop software equivalent. The 'effects' are nice, providing you with a bunch of pre-programmed filters that'll make your mundane on-the-way-to-work photos less boring.

There's a couple of handy undo/redo buttons at the bottom -- and no, you can't make those two annoying bars disappear while you edit the photo. The only way to see the final result is to save the image (thus losing your undo/redo history... awesome!)

Finally, the app has the ability to upload your edited photos to Photoshop.com, Facebook and TwitPic. You can also set it to 'auto upload' your photos, which is a rather cool way of keeping your phone synchronized with your Interwebs. [If you're interested, you can see my awesome full-size photo on Photoshop.com!]

Photoshop Express for Android Tech Specs
  • Installed Size -- 2MB, but it has a cache that will grow as your library of images expands!
  • Speed/Responsiveness -- Snappy and smooth (Android 1.6 @ 600 MHz, LG GT540 Swift)
  • User Interface -- Pretty and very intuitive, except for the complete lack of buttons on the 'Online photos' tab, grrr
  • Configurability & Extensibility -- Nope, nothing like that (but being able to upload to other non-Photoshop.com services is cool)
  • License -- Free, closed-source

Tags: adobe, android, iphone, photo, photo editing, photo manipulation, PhotoEditing, PhotoManipulation, photoshop, photoshop express, PhotoshopExpress, smartphone

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