Apps that let you share photos with your friends are becoming must-haves, which is why Instagram was worth $1 billion to Facebook.
But maybe you’re one of those consumers who’s mad because the photo-sharing startup has been absorbed by the Borg, uh, Facebook I mean. Or maybe you’ve never tried to edit and share photos using your smartphone. In either case, a handy little app called Pixlr-o-matic from Autodesk is worth checking out.
Once you’ve downloaded the free app from iTunes or the Android Marketplace, Pixlr-o-matic lets you call up any photo on your phone and perform a variety of editing functions using any one of dozens of different filters. You can buy even more for 99 cents.
Before-and-after photos using the Pixlr-o-matic app from Autodesk Inc.
The filters are grouped into three buckets: colorizing, adding effects, and framing. You access the effects by scrolling through a gallery of thumbnails and clicking on the one you want and the photo is instantly transformed.
For some reason, the effects have names like Anne, Antonio and Bob, a naming convention I thought would be confusing when I watched a demonstration. But when I downloaded the app on my iPhone and used it, the thumbnail pictures were all the information I needed to select the correct filter. It would be even easier on the much larger screen of a tablet.
When you’re done, it just takes a click or two to email the photo from your iPhone or post it to Facebook, Flickr, Dropbox, Imm.io or iTunes. You have more sharing options if you’re using an Android device.
Pixlr-o-matic is actually part of a broader product line that Autodesk acquired when it bought the Swedish company that created the apps a year or so ago. You can upgrade from Pixlr-o-matic to Pixlr Express and then step up to the most complex app of the trio, Pixlr Editor. Express and Editor offer far more features than Pixlr-o-matic, but for now they only work on a laptop.
Although Editor is free, it’s quite powerful. Ola Sevandersson, who founded Pixlr and stayed on with Autodesk, says it has roughly 20 percent of the features you’d find in Adobe Photoshop.
In fact, the interface looks a lot like the one you’d see when you open Photoshop or Photoshop Elements. Pixlr isn’t trying to compete at the professional level, but it hopes to wins the loyalty of beginning and maybe intermediate photographers who don’t need the power of Photoshop.
San Francisco journalist Bill Snyder writes frequently about business and technology. His work appears regularly in CIO.com and the publications of Stanford's Graduate School of Business and the Haas School of Business at the University of California at Berkeley. He welcomes your comments and suggestions.