Let’s be honest with each other: we all love Android, but most of us love what we can make out of it, not how it comes out of the box. Take for example the default Gallery viewer that ships on stock Android devices. It is — for lack of a better word — mediocre. The interface is nice, you can view and delete images with it, but, well… that’s it.
I probably wouldn’t have found a fault in it if I didn’t have the pleasure of using HTC’s Sense Gallery for a couple of months. The difference was like night and day: it was faster for one thing, and it allowed me to hide folders that I didn’t want to see while browsing for photos. When I came back to the stock Gallery, I was thoroughly disappointed and started searching for a better alternative. Eventually, I found QuickPic.
QuickPic uses a very simple and iPhone-like interface, with no bells or whistles. It can display your photo folders as grid icons or as a list (allowing easy switching using the top left icon). The top right icon opens the Camera. Choose a folder and you are taken to the photo browser, with a grid of your images and the option to go back or switch to multi-selection mode.
Clicking on a picture opens it, and you can use multitouch gestures or double tap to zoom, and swipe left or right to browse images. A single tap opens the top and bottom toolbar, with options to go back, rename, share, delete, start a slideshow, and zoom. You can also press Menu for a few more options: see the image’s details, rotate it, crop it, set it as a contact icon or wallpaper, or show its geolocation on a map.
Including and Excluding Folders
Whether it’s a set of private photos that you do not wish to share with anyone you hand your phone to, or an application that unloaded all its icons and image set into your gallery, there are often folders on your SD card that contain image files but that you honestly don’t want to clutter your experience with when you’re browsing for the latest breathtaking sunset photo you took, or the adorable snap of your baby daughter with spaghetti dripping from her mouth. QuickPic lets you exclude these folders from the image browser: simply click and hold on the one you don’t want to see again, and choose Exclude. You can always go into the Settings to remove a folder from the Excluded list.
Another way to work with QuickPic is to use Included folders. Instead of it scanning your entire SD card, you can specify where your images are, so that QuickPic only scans those folders, avoiding the need to exclude other folders separately.
Managing Hidden Folders
Unlike Exclusion folders, Hidden folders are ones that start with a dot (.) in their name. Most application developers use this to avoid showing their application icons and image data in your Gallery, but if you want to access them or if you’re the one who hid some images, you can toggle that with one button click as well as set a password in order to grant more security.
Simple Editing Options
As mentioned above, you can crop and rotate images inside QuickPic. While it may be a small function and there are plenty of image editors who do a lot more, cropping and rotating are basic tasks that you might require often, and having them handy without the need to open a separate application is quite nice.
QuickPic is fast — well, instantaneous is more accurate to describe its speed. There is no waiting for images to appear, or refreshing, or rebuilding thumbnails like in the default Gallery. If a photo is on the SD card, it will show in QuickPic, immediately.
QuickPic is updated quite often, adding a few cool features each time, like the ability to use a white theme instead of the black one, hiding the status bar for a fullscreen effect, and opening the application on the last viewed folder instead of the main browser. One neat option is the “automatic screen orientation” that, based on the image ratio, will show it in portrait or landscape, making it a killer feature for those of you with no accelerometer, or those who have disabled automatic screen orientation (like me) but always had to re-enable it when browsing photos in order to view landscape shots more efficiently.
Also worth noting is that, unlike many other applications, the whole QuickPic interface works in landscape if you have automatic rotation enabled or if you use a device with a slide-out QWERTY.
The only downside to QuickPic that I can find is that it’s a very bland application. The interface is simple yet boring. Using it is a bit of a let down compared to the fancy graphics implemented in other aspects of Android, and it doesn’t compare to the refined effect of the HTC Sense Gallery. However, it is efficient, and if speed trumps beauty for you, then this disadvantage becomes its biggest advantage.
If you’re on a phone that doesn’t come with a pimped Gallery application or if you’re running a custom ROM that offers a stock Android experience, QuickPic is probably your best bet for a more featured Gallery that is also quite efficient. I have personally set it up as my default Gallery viewer since I first got CyanogenMod 7 on my HTC Desire Z, and I haven’t needed nor wanted to open the regular Gallery since then. QuickPic is available for free in the Android Market for devices running Android 2.0 and higher.