Layout Review

Our Review by Lisa Caplan on July 13th, 2012
Rating: starstarstarstarhalfstar :: PHOTO PHUN
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Collages are easy with this all-in-one iPad app that keeps things simple and fun.

Developer: Juicy Bits

Price: $2.99
Version: 1.0
App Reviewed on: iPad 2

iOS Integration Rating: starstarstarstarhalfstar
User Interface Rating: starstarstarstarhalfstar
Re-use / Replay Value Rating: starstarstarstarhalfstar

Overall Rating: starstarstarstarhalfstar

From the developers of hit photo app Halftone comes a new photo editor, Layout, that’s so full of features and so easy to use, it rivals iPhoto. And, at $2.99, it’s half the price. The only drawback is lack of iPhone support, but the app uses the full 9.7-inch iPad display so fully, it would be doing it a disservice to scale it down.

While a capable single photo editor, Layout is mostly about creating photo journals or digital scrapbooks. Users select an aspect ratio for the whole project and then divide it with simple swipes into a collage of sorts. There are templates available, but the touch interface is so inviting, they seem unnecessary.

From there it’s all tapping. Each box holds its own image. One tap brings up this neat dial that serves as the main menu. Select the appropriate icon to grab a snap from the camera roll, or directly from a Facebook, Flickr or Instagram account.

That means no importing and exporting, and easy access to all those social media outlets where we tend to stick different pieces of our shared lives. Once the images have been selected, margins can be adjusted, individual squares can be cut again, and within each box images can be scaled and resized.

No photography app is complete anymore without effects and Layout has just enough of them to keep users feeling creative without in-app purchases and clutter luring them away.

The edit menu brings up a pretty complete photo editor with auto enhance, contrast, saturation, cropping, red eye fix - all the goodies a good photo app should have. It’s not Photoshop, but it gets the job done.

There are also options to add captions in an assortment of fonts, stickers, speech bubbles and pens to write directly on photos. And, of course, a few neat filters to add artistic touches.

Once the project is complete it’s yet another tap to post it to Facebook, Twitter, or Flickr. Users can also send the end result in an email, to a printer or back to the camera roll.

The depth of the photo editor, and the ease of use are wonderful, but it’s the social photo integration that really makes Layout shine. It was quick and easy to pour through all my albums everywhere, pull exactly the pictures I wanted together, and then send my pages back out.

I can’t think of a single app that offers quite what Layout does. It has fewer filters and fun effects than some similar products, but endless filters can be applied with Instagram. Layout’s robust photo editing, simple UI and social components are so much fun, they make me want to get out and get snapping.

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