Ford Flex Photo Lab iPhone app

Ford releases an iPhone app that has almost nothing to do with cars.

Ford Flex Photo Lab for iPhone/iPod Touch
What do photography and the new Ford Flex have in common? Not much, except for this app. Antuan Goodwin/CBS Interactive

It seems that more and more automakers are jumping on this iPhone app bandwagon. First it was Audi , with its driving game . Then Mercedes-Benz launched an iPhone optimized Web site featuring video. Now, it's Ford's turn to throw its hat into the iPhone arena. Where the previous two examples were directly related to the cars and car culture, Ford has chosen to release a free photo editor. What?

The Ford Flex Photo Lab--try saying that five times fast--is essentially a collection of six photo filters that allow iPhone users to fix up or trick out their pictures. What does photography have to do with the Flex? Usha Raghavachari, Ford Crossover marketing communications manager, says: "Flex consumers love new technology, and we know that a lot of them have iPhones, so we wanted to offer them a free application that is both a cool and useful tool."

Ford Flex Photo Lab app and Antuan's hand
I ran the kaleidoscope filter on a photo of a Mazda RX8. Antuan Goodwin/CBS Interactive

So how does the Flex Photo Lab perform as a photo editor? In a word: mediocre. The kaleidoscope filter allows users to fracture their photos like the namesake toy, but it's not of much use beyond the first trial. "Electric lines" allows users to draw lines on the chosen photo. We're not sure why you'd want to, but you can. "Spot burner" and "spot lighter" allow darkening and lightening of areas of a photo, with mixed results. Brightness/contrast and hue/saturation controls are good for tweaking images, but without much control over the effect. The experience is far from Adobe Photoshop in the palm of your hand.

From the main menu, users are also given a "Discover FLEX" option, which links to photos, 360-degree views and specs for the Ford Flex crossover. An interesting option is the "Locate the FLEX" button, which uses Google Maps to locate the Ford dealer nearest to you.

I spent hours goofing off with the Audi app when it first came out, but the Ford app didn't capture my attention in the same way. I used it once or twice, but I don't see much use for it down the line. I do most of my photo editing at home on a bigger monitor with a better program. Neither of the applications made me want to go out and buy the vehicles.

The Ford Flex Photo Lab is available for free in the Apple iTunes App store. I like free apps, so keep 'em coming, automakers!

 

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