Snapseed for Android review: The photo editor for serious photo enthusiasts

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5 stars

CNET Editors' Rating

The Good With its unique gesture-based interface, Snapseed offers an incredible level of control over its effects and filters.

The Bad The tools and interface aren't intuitive, so it could take a while to get familiarized.

The Bottom Line If you're a more serious mobile photographer looking for an app to fine-tune your photos with, Snapseed is your best choice.

Free

9.4 Overall
  • Installation and Setup 10.0
  • Features and Support 9.0
  • Interface 9.0
  • Performance 10.0

Editors' note, April 16, 2015: This review has been updated to reflect changes in version 2.0 of Snapseed.

Snapseed (iOS|Android) is not your typical one-dimensional, tap-to-apply photo-editing app. This popular Google app is aimed at more discerning photographers, and packs all of the photo-editing tools you could want.

In April, Snapseed underwent a major face-lift on both Android and iOS, including a new design and streamlined editing tools in version 2.0. Gone is the quick, helpful tutorial that walked you through the app's endless features. Also missing are the Grunge filter and Tilt Shift effects.

It's not all bad news, though; Snapseed also added several new tools with the update, including Spot Repair, Brush, Lens Blur and zoom controls. The update has drawn some ire from longtime fans, but Snapseed is still one of the top photo editors for iOS and Android.

New design, same editing power

Snapseed completely overhauled how design works in the app, putting the photo you're editing front and center. Within the app, you can snap a new photo to edit or select an image already on your phone.

The plus sign sitting in the bottom-right corner is the most important button on the main screen, as it calls up the grid of editing tools and filters that make Snapseed great. When you pick a tool or filter, there's a control panel at the bottom of the screen where you can adjust the tools and save or discard your edits.

Snapseed originally had a quick tutorial to get you started with the app. That's now gone, replaced by shorter tutorials for each tool that move so quickly they can be hard to follow. You're better off playing around with the app to learn how to use it, instead of relying solely on the in-app demos.

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Snapseed creates Stacks for each effect you add to your photos, and you can edit individual Stacks without interfering with other edits. Screenshot by Sarah Mitroff/CNET

For every new filter or effect you add to your photo, Snapseed creates a Stack (or layer) so you can keep track of the changes you made. You can delete or tweak individual Stacks at any time without affecting other edits you've made. You can also copy all of the layers used in one photo and paste them onto a different photo.

When you've finished editing and applying filters, you can either save the photo, which replaces the original in the iOS Photo app, or save a copy to keep the original image as well. On Android, Snapseed automatically saves a copy in a separate Snapseed folder on your phone, so you never lose the original.

Gesture-based editing

Snapseed relies heavily on gestures for controlling the tools and filters. The gestures might be a little confusing at first, but once you play around with them, you'll realize how perfectly they lend themselves to Snapseed's tools. To get started, pick a tool to use, then swipe vertically to pick which specific attribute, like Brightness or Contrast, to work with. From there, you can swipe horizontally to increase or decrease the intensity of the effect. Those controls let you make precise edits and see your changes in real time.

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