Pixlr-O-Matic: Android’s Best Photo Filter App?

We’ve all heard of Instagram, iOS’s great image sharing service. You take a picture, apply a filter, add a frame and a comment, and it will instantly post it to Facebook, Twitter, or Tumblr. Pixlr-o-matic tries to give Android users an Instagram equivalent. It lacks the social capabilities of Instagram and Flickr, but the sheer number of filters and effects to add to your photos are mind-boggling.

Read on to find out more about this great application.

Availability

Pixlr-o-matic is available on the Android Market as a free, ad-free app for devices that have Android 2.1 or above. You can also download an Adobe AIR version for your computer, use the online application or run it from Facebook (yeah, I’m surprised too).

User Interface

The user interface is great. It’s very neatly organized and it is really easy to use. When you launch the application you’re given three options: select a photo from your gallery, take a fresh photo from your camera, or select one of their photos.

Once you’ve decided on what photo to use, you can start having fun, applying filters, lens effects and borders.

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Pixlr-o-matic first screen

Filters

In the filters department the application is great. There are a huge amount of choices. The only downside is that they’re referred to by people’s names (Sophia, Peter or Melissa) rather than their traditional names (sepia, black & white or cross-process). Other than this little inconvenience, everything works perfectly smooth. The preview updates almost instantly.

On my LG Optimus One P500 running CyanogenMod-7.1.0-RC1 it works really fast with 3MP photos. Usually when camera sizes go up, phone performance also goes up, so lag shouldn’t be an issue.

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The Melissa Filter

Lens Effects

Pixlr-o-matic also has a great amount of lens effects. This time the name actually describes (or tries to describe) the effect — for example, Kryptonite adds a subtle green glow to the bottom of the photo.

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The Local Lens Effect

Border Effects

You might have noticed a pattern emerging right now; there are many filters and many lens effects, so you might not be surprised to find out that there are also many borders. From a traditional black or white border to a modern floral border, you have a great variety to choose from.

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The Grunge Border

I’d like to note that there are 25 filters, 30 lens effects and 31 border styles. I never was good at math, but after a few searches, I concluded that the number of possible combinations of effects is pretty big: around 25,000. Nice!

The End Result

When you are done with choosing a filter, lens effect and border, you are taken to the final screen where you can choose where to export your picture. This is where the app stops seeming so great, but more on that later. For now let’s just say you can save your picture on your SD Card storage.

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The End Result: Melissa, Local and Grunge

Social Skills

As I implied earlier, the app’s export features are poor. You’ll find that you can’t connect to Facebook, Twitter, or any of the other major social sites (Tumblr, WordPress, Flickr). That’s a huge bummer. I would’ve wanted to see at least Facebook or Twitter, but it doesn’t have any social sharing whatsoever. It does allow the use of an image hosting site (which they own), but even that doesn’t have the social capabilities that are practically expected these days.

There is, however, a loop-hole. When you are prompted to choose where to export, you’re given three options:

  • imm.io: this the their proprietary site. You can post it here, copy the link and then share it via your favorite social application. The downside is that the photo is deleted if it’s not viewed by anyone for 30 days.
  • Save to SD card: this saves the picture to your SD card. Pretty self-explanatory.
  • Export: here is where things get interesting. You can choose your favorite social client (TweetDeck, for example) and then upload the picture to yfrog, twitpic or any other image hosting sites through this app. This makes the need for social integration almost redundant.

So where I (at first) thought the application is not that good, it throws a curve ball. Why do you need social integration, when you can pop the image in your favorite social client? Problem solved.

Performance Against Other Apps

Before I found Pixlr-o-matic, I’d been using Picplz to take “artistic shots” (if you can do that with a 3MP phone). The only problem I had with it was the low number of filters and how slowly it ran. The previews took forever to load, it took a while to save the image, and also there were times when the application simply stalled when moving from one screen to the next.

Pixlr-o-matic does everything ten times faster. Now this again may vary based on picture size, but generally it works very fast.

Examples

Below you’ll find various photos showing different filters, lens and border effects.

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Some of my experiments with the application.

Cross-Platform

I mentioned in the Availability section that this ap is also available as a web app, desktop app, and a Facebook app – in other words, it’s cross-platform. You’ll be surprised to find out that the user experience is the same on every platform, as cross-platform developers tend to adapt their application to the platform, rather than adapting the platform to the application.

This is another great big plus for the app. Now I can add a personal touch to all my photos from my computer, my Facebook Albums, or my phone.

Final Thoughts

“A picture is worth 1,000 words.” With Pixlr-o-matic you’ll add at least 2,000 more. It’s a great application with lots of options and possibilities. You may think at first that it lacks the social skills of Picplz, Instagram or Flickr, but in the end it does not disappoint. I give it a perfect score of 10 – sure, the filter names are a bit confusing, but who remembers those filters anyway? I can’t wait for people to Google “How to recreate the Amber filter from Pixlr-o-matic in Photoshop”.


Summary

Pixlr-o-matic is great application for adding filters, lens effects and borders to your photos. With it you can easily add that "artistic touch" to every shot you take with your Android. And thanks to its cross-platform capabilities, you can even add "The Touch" to your favorite shots you have laying around somewhere in your computer gallery or Facebook Albums.

10
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