Liquid Scale
iPhone App
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Liquid Scale

Our Review by Bonnie Eisenman on March 1st, 2010
Rating: starstarstarhalfstarblankstar :: NOVELTY
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Liquid Scale is a fun concept that works surprisingly well, but serious photo editing still doesn't work on an iPhone.'s fun to mess around with.

Developer: Savoy Software
Price: $1.99
Version Reviewed: 1.2

iPhone Integration Rating: starstarstarstarblankstar
User Interface Rating: starstarstarhalfstarblankstar

Re-use / Replay Value Rating: starstarstarhalfstarblankstar

Overall Rating: starstarstarhalfstarblankstar

Liquid Scale falls firmly under the category of "it looks too good to be true!" The app uses "content-aware resizing" to let you dynamically crop photos. It's hard to explain, but the basic premise is this: let me choose what parts of the photo to keep (or discard), and then shrink my photo to focus on those parts. It's startlingly effective, though not without its flaws.

To start, of course, you have to chose a photo from your iPhone's photo library. Once you open a photo, you select which parts you want to save or discard by highlighting them in the appropriate color—green for save, and red for discard. Sliding the arrows on the side will then shrink your photo accordingly. It's a disarmingly simple process, and at first glance, the results are phenomenal. I was actually kind of disturbed when I managed to snip my cousin out of a group photo. It just felt like it shouldn't have been that easy...

As it turns out, my misgivings weren't wholly unfounded. The thing about Liquid Scale is that it doesn't work every time. Choosing which areas to keep by highlighting them with your finger isn't the most accurate of input methods, particularly without the ability to zoom in on the photo in question. Additionally, you can sometimes get strange results based on what Liquid Scale deems "important." Seams are also an inevitable consequence of using the app—backgrounds are rarely uniform, so it's often easy to see where stuff was deleted. In my example picture above, for instance, if you look at the larger version, a sliver of my cousin's leg is still there. In other attempts, you get people half-squished together, or a sky that jumps from one shade of blue to another instead of fading out in a gentle gradient. The app works best with near-uniform backgrounds and plenty of "empty" space to delete. Clarity is also a plus. Given the right conditions, Liquid Scale can work magic...but you rarely hit the perfect match. Instead, you're far more likely to produce some good-looking tricks that nevertheless betray signs of editing.

Liquid Scale is a fun party trick, but I wonder how useful it really is. After all, the photos it produces often show evidence of tweaking, and they're also much lower resolution than the source photos. Additionally, the precision just isn't there. That doesn't mean that Liquid Scale isn't fun, because it is—and it works pretty well. But it's rare that you'll actually need it, and good photography skills should render it pointless anyway. The only thing I can think of is that it sometimes manages to turn landscape photos into portrait ones without distorting or cropping the images, which is nice—but again, how often will you have "useless" space in your landscape photo?

Take a look at the demo video below, and see if it looks fun enough for you to give it a try. I'd advise leaving the real photo editing to Photoshop if you're looking for something a bit more serious, but Liquid Scale is still a lot of fun to play with.

Edit: The sheep photo used to demonstrate Liquid Scale is copyright Miro Schaap.

iPhone Screenshots

(click to enlarge)

Liquid Scale screenshot 1 Liquid Scale screenshot 2 Liquid Scale screenshot 3 Liquid Scale screenshot 4 Liquid Scale screenshot 5
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