Snapseed: the iPad has its image editor. Bar none.

Snapseed by Nik Software $4.99
iTunes App Store

The night before we left for Paris I received an email from Nik Software announcing the release of their brand new iPad app: Snapseed.

The timing couldn't have been more perfect. I'd been trying out, reading about and overall feeling disappointed with iPad image editors to bring along on our trip. Either the functionalities were lacking, the interface was awkward or the feature set was geared at making silly cat pics. I'm not saying there aren't good ones out there, but I couldn't find anything that felt right.

I've owned and used Nik's amazing plugins in Aperture for many years and my heart leaped when I saw the email. I bought the app within five minutes — it did NOT disappoint.


The app is basically a collection of individual modules, each with its own functions and filters. There are two sets of modules right now: the first one is geared towards basic image correction while the second offers creative adjustments like Black and White and Vintage Films.

This choice of interface has me wondering if more modules couldn't be added in the future, perhaps as in-app purchases?

Here's a list of what's available now:

- Auto Correct
- Selective Adjust
- Tune Image
- Straighten and Rotate
- Crop

- Black and White
- Vintage Films
- Drama
- Grunge
- Center Focus
- Organic Frames


When first launching any of the modules, the app will show an overlay with a set of hand-drawn instructions explaining the various gestures (à la Pulse news reader). Mostly, you swipe up/down to access the module's various filters and left/right to adjust their parameters — it's fast, easy and extremely fluid. When you apply the changes the app takes you back to the home screen where you can then select another module to use on the same image, making it possible to stack several effects together. You can freeze a version at any time by saving to the iPad's photo library, or revert to the original file if you've messed up completely and want a do over.

The whole workflow is quite intuitive and I quickly found a couple of recipes that I could go through in a... well, snap ;)


One of Nik's great innovations is U-Point technology, which is used in all their desktop plugins (and licensed to Nikon's Capture NX). When you place a U-Point on an image it reads the pixels underneath and creates a mask using every similar pixel nearby. You can adjust their radius (to affect a smaller or larger area) and add as many as you like, effectively creating complex masks that might otherwise be impossible to do, or very time consuming. Each U-Point offers a set of individual parameters (which varies with the host plugin) that can be used to modify the affected area. It's powerful technology.

So I was ecstatic to see U-Points in Snapseed. Unfortunately, they only appear in the Selective Adjust module. The ability to lower or cancel the effects of a module in select areas of a picture is the one thing I often missed in the app. Perhaps in a future version…


Very much so. They've made all the right decisions with regards to interface, sharing, ease of use. Aside from  what I mentioned above, I can't find any fault with Snapseed. It's not only powerful and versatile but loads of fun to use and the results are stunning. It runs on both the iPad 1 and 2 but images are resized to 6mp when using the older iPad — the one thing since the launch of the iPad 2 that's made me feel left out of the party. It's a hardware limitation and I knew about it going in so I mostly used the app as a brainstorming tool while we were away, sitting down every night to sift through the day's pics.

The combination of the Fuji X100 and iPad made for a seriously stealthy and portable travel solution. Being able to play around with the images on the road and do the type of post-production I like to do has made my editing job a lot easier coming back. And it's a tribute to Nik's work that I've found myself missing some of Snapseed's features when working on the same images in Aperture 3.

As impressive as it is, I hope they won't be standing still with this editor. Its future holds a lot of promise that shouldn't be squandered.

As always, a few pics below — straight from the app...


Equipment used:
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