PicsArt has been a favorite photo-editing and -sharing app for Android, and now it's available for the iPhone. This free app provides an impressive array of editing tools, including collage and drawing functions, along with its own photo-sharing network.
The app's home screen provides a colorful mix of six buttons: Effect, Collage, Draw, Camera, Edit, and Shop. You can also swipe left to view your profile and swipe right to view PicsArt's feed of what it deems interesting photos (think Instagram's Popular feed). You can use the app without creating an account, but with an account, you can create your own PicsArt feed and follow other PicsArt users and have them follow you. You can sign up via Facebook, Twitter, or e-mail.
You can edit a photo by either snapping a shot with the app or selecting a photo from your Camera Roll or a handful of online sources (which we'll get to in a minute). When you snap or select a photo to edit, you'll see five edit buttons along the bottom: Tools, Effects, Draw, Masks, and Add. The Tools button lets you adjust the colors (brightness, contrast, saturation, and hue) of the image along with providing rotate, crop, and resize tools. The Effects button offers dozens of filters organized into five categories. For many of the filters, you can use sliders to tweak the effect. Also, more Effects are available via the Shop button on the home screen, and all of the filter packs in the shop when I visited were free. The Draw and Mask buttons both offer impressive control, while the Add button lets you add clipart, borders, and text.
When you have your photo just right, you can use the save button in the middle of the top row of buttons to save the image to your phone's Camera Roll. You can also use the triangular-looking button just to its right to export the photo to PicsArt's own network or to Facebook, Twitter, or Dropbox.
Quickly, let's touch on the other buttons on the home screen. The Collage feature works well, offering a wide variety of layouts. It lets you switch photos after loading them into the template, and tapping and holding on a photo in a template lets you edit or reposition it. With the Draw tool, you can draw on a photo or on a blank slate. Lastly, the Effect button provides only PicsArt's various effects (i.e. filters), stripping out the rest of the editing tools if you are a seasoned Instagrammer and want to slap a quick filter on a photo and move on.
One odd thing I noticed about the app has to do with importing photos from a few online sources. You can select photos from your Camera Roll, your PicsArt feed, your Dropbox account, or your Facebook profile as you might expect. There are, however, three other options: Flickr, Picasa, and Google Images. For these three, you can import only random images; there is no way to log into your Google or Flickr account, at least that I can see.
Even if you don't end up using PicsArt's own photo-sharing network, the app is useful for the impressive array of editing tools and control it provides. And for free.