Taking a photo used to be a big deal. You had a roll of film with a handful of exposers. Each one was treated like a precious gem, and you often only got one chance to capture a great shot.
Today, the polar opposite is true. I shoot almost everything, from my kids’ school events to my parking space. The result is a rich photographic history of my life, as well as a seemingly bottomless pool of photo after photo. Finding the one I’m after is a hassle. Fortunately, Photoful for iPhone (free) is here to help. It offers a compelling layout that makes finding what you’re after a lot easier than Apple’s Photos app (under iOS 6 at least). Plus it looks at home on iOS 7 and has some thoughtful features.
Now that iOS is a few years old, it’s interesting to see how developers are using gestures. More and more apps have fewer buttons and more gestures. Realmac’s Clear was the first app that really struck me as being aggressively gesture-driven. There are almost no buttons and many tasks can be completed with a swipe or a tap. Photoful feels much the same.
Gallery: Photoful for iPhone
Most tasks can be accomplished with one hand, which I really like. Scrolling is obvious, but it goes far beyond that. For example, to share a photo, tap it to zoom in and then swipe to the right and the share pane appears. From there, you can send it off via email, text, Facebook, Twitter or message. There’s also a “Add a service” button that, when tapped, lets you send a tweet or an email to the developers, requesting another sharing service.
If you swipe to the left on an image, it’s moved to the trash. Note that I didn’t say delete. The app will store that image in its own trash bin. The original on your Camera Roll or stored in the Photos app is untouched. The developers note that this might be a hassle for some and state that Apple prevents them from deleting photos stored in Apple’s own iOS apps. If I mistakenly delete a photo, I can tap undo to restore it.
Pinch-and-zoom is supported, too, and it works from almost anywhere. Zoom in on a single photo or pinch a row of four thumbnails to get it down to nine per row. That’s all great, but the best gesture, hands-down, is batch select. I’m sure you’ve had the experience of enabling share mode or edit mode on a photo app and tapping several images, one at a time. Photoful throws that process out the window by letting you swipe to batch-select photos. Just hold a finger down and drag them across the ones you want selected. De-select photos the same way. It’s so fast and convenient. I love it. Once you’ve selected photos, you can edit them, share them or move them.
Photoful has a very impressive selection of editing options. To prevent this review from becoming completely unwieldy, I’ll run through them in a quick list:
- Enhance. Choose from High Def, a sharpen tool; Illuminate, which brightens bright spots and darkens darks; and Color Fix, which is like auto balance.
- Effects. Thirteen filters to choose from.
- Focus. If you’re going for a tilt-shift or depth-of-field effect, this is for you. The focused area is either rectangular or spherical and you can resize/reposition it.
- Crop. You know. Crop.
- Orientation. Flip horizontal/vertical or turn left/right.
- Brightness, contrast, saturation, sharpness. A separate slider for each.
- Redeye. This is a really interesting implementation. The red eye tool can be adjusted six time, from small to large. Zoom in on your image to get it just right.
- Draw. Lots of sizes and colors to choose from
- Meme. This one’s pretty cute. What to put huge, white Impact text on the top and bottom of your photo? This is how.
And that’s not even all of it. There are also frames and stickers. The app gets you stared with a free 12-pack of each (via optional download).
Photoful’s looks are striking because it feels right at home on iOS 7. It’s mostly black-and-white with legible text and only a handful of icons. The main screen displays your images as thumbnails, four per row. This can be zoomed into a “scroll view,” and beyond that is individual photo view. The app’s UI is simple and clear.
Tags and albums
Photoful supports tags and offers several to get you started, like “#friends” and “#food”. There are several ways to apply a tag, but my favorite is to tap it and hit “Add/remove tags.” The batch select feature comes in handy here, too. Tap the tag icon in the upper right to see all of your tagged images, neatly sorted. Albums work the same way. Tap the calender icon in the upper left to see your albums clearly labeled.
As if all of that wasn’t enough…select an image(s) and tap Create. From there, you have several options (though only one works for now). You can create a great-looking 4×6 postcard that will be shipped directly to your recipient, anywhere in the world. The other options – order prints, pickup prints, create a collage and make a slide show – produce a pop-up that says, in so many words, “coming soon.”
Photoful is a very nice app. At first I found its feature set overwhelming. It almost feels like it’s trying to do too much. But if the developers are trying to make a one-stop image app, they’re well on their way. The gesture support is implemented well and the app looks great. It’s too bad that some features are unfinished, as it gives the whole app a feel of not being done, but that’s forgivable when everything else works so well. Especially that batch select. Once you’ve tried it, you’ll decry other apps that don’t..