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Afterglow for iOS review: Afterglow exceeds at subtle tweaks to images

Afterglow isn't for drastic effects and filters, but if you want to simply improve the look of an image and add real camera film-like effects, the intuitive controls make this app a great download.

Jason Parker Senior Editor / Reviews - Software
Jason Parker has been at CNET for nearly 15 years. He is the senior editor in charge of iOS software and has become an expert reviewer of the software that runs on each new Apple device. He now spends most of his time covering Apple iOS releases and third-party apps.
Jason Parker
2 min read

Afterglow is one of many photo editors at the App Store, but an intuitive control layout, tons of subtle effects, and several sharing options make it an interesting option for tweaking your images. The app's primary focus is posting your altered images to Instagram, but you have plenty of other options for sharing as well. Start by taking a picture with your camera or grabbing an image from your photo library.


Afterglow for iOS

The Good

<b>Afterglow</b> for iOS lets you make subtle tweaks to your images and add faux film effects for a unique retro look. While made primarily for Instagram, you have options for opening images in other apps and sharing to other social sites.

The Bad

While the effects are intended to be subtle, if the app offers effect sliders, it seems like it should allow for more dramatic changes. You can export to other apps, but it seems like an unnecessary step.

The Bottom Line

Afterglow isn't for drastic effects and filters, but if you want to simply improve the look of an image and add afterglow effects, the intuitive controls make this app a great download.

Rather than dramatic changes, what Afterglow focuses on is perfecting your image with subtle filters and other tweaks. The interface has buttons across the bottom of the screen for basic color tweaks (saturation and contrast, for example), filters, afterglow effects, and basic tools for cropping, rotating, and flipping the image. You also get a revert button in the lower left if you want to discard all your changes.

With the focus on posting the final product to Instagram, images are transformed into perfect squares with subtle filters and real filmlike effects that create the "afterglow." The filters range from black and white variations to color tweaks and mild sepia tone; You're not going to find dramatic filters or textures here like you find in many popular retro filter apps. The afterglow effects give your photo that real film quality, adding colorful lens flares, scratchy film textures, and other effects that give your image a quirky look that seems unintended. Each of the effects have sliders to increase the intensity of the look, but even at 100% the changes are fairly minor.

Tweak your images easily (pictures)

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When you're finished, you can send the photo to your Instagram app for posting, save to your camera roll, send via e-mail, or post to other social networks like Twitter or Facebook. You also have the option to sent it to other supported apps on your iPhone, so if the changes aren't enough, you always have the option to tweak further in apps like PhotoToaster or Camera+.

In total, with Afterglow you get 13 color adjustment tools, 32 filters, 21 real filmlike textures, and 8 adjustable frames. The filters are comprised of 20 variations created by the developer, Simon Filip, and 12 filters created by various Netflix users. Filip promises more guest filters and app tweaks each month, so look for more improvements the longer you own the app.

Overall, if you're looking for an app that adds dramtic changes to your images, this is not the app for you. But if you're an Instagram fan who simply wants to make minor changes to enhance that retro quality, Afterglow has a precise set of tools for the job.


Afterglow for iOS

Score Breakdown

Setup 8Features 7Interface 10Performance 8