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Kwilt for iOS review: Great looking photo manager, lacks basic features

Jason Cipriani

Kwilt for iOS wants to be your one-stop shop for all things photos. It has basic photo editing tools, can import pictures from numerous social networks and web services, and lets you create slideshows. Probably the most interesting is a nifty tool called Kwilt Captures that automatically creates collages from your photos

kwiltpromo.jpg
6.4

Kwilt for iOS

Pricing Not Available

The Good

Kwilt is a great-looking app that lets you make edits and collages from your photo collection even if your photos live across multiple social networks.

The Bad

The overall layout feels cluttered. You can't edit individual photos within a collage, nor save your project to finish later.

The Bottom Line

Despite some promising features, Kwilt currently has too many irksome kinks to take down the Photos app as your default mobile image editor.

Some of the features found in Kwilt simply duplicate the functionality found in Apple's Photos app. Other features, such as photo editing and Kwilt Captures, combine features found across other third-party photo apps. What makes the app unique is the easy process for connecting to multiple social networks and Kwilt Captures, but it will need some work before it becomes your go-to photo app.

Kwilt has a nice interface layout, but still needs work (pictures)

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Setting up

The initial setup for Kwilt is relatively painless. After creating a Kwilt account, you'll need to grant the app access to the Photos stored on your iOS device. You also have the option to gather photos from Instagram, Facebook, Dropbox, Flickr, Google+ and Google Drive to bring them all into your Kwilt account.

By importing photos from various sources, Kwilt becomes your one-stop-shop for both browsing and editing photos. Should you want to setup Kwilt on a secondary device, such as an iPad, you only need to log in to your Kwilt account.

Navigating the interface

The overall interface design of Kwilt is intuitive and looks great as you work with your photos. In most photo related apps on mobile devices, most of us have grown accustomed to seeing our photos displayed vertically. With Kwilt, your photos are displayed horizontally in chronological order. So, instead of swiping down to reveal older pictures, you swipe to the left.

As you swipe, your photos are displayed in various sizes, appearing as a random collage. This is the same layout Kwilt uses in its Kwilt Capture feature.

The problem with this approach is photos are often cut off. For the most part, the app does a decent job at identifying faces and displaying them in the thumbnail preview, but it's not perfect. At times I had a hard time identifying what a photo was until I actually opened it with a tap. Not a deal breaker, but it's a problem that's amplified as you begin connecting more services and adding more photos to the app.

If chronological order isn't your cup of tea, you can refine the order by tapping on the top bar and selecting from a list of categories. Here you'll be able to sort by screen captures, media service, location and your iOS Photos albums.

Editing photos

When you select a photo, you can perform a few different actions with it from within Kwilt. You can share it with others, start a slideshow, send the photo via AirPlay, or edit it using Kwilt's editing tools.

Selecting Edit prompts you to pick between editing a standard resolution, or high-res copy of the photo. High-res edits are only available if you pay $2.99 through an in-app purchase.

For standard resolution, Kwilt offers an exhaustive list of editing tools. Most are free, like adding filters and stickers, whitening teeth and removing blemishes. You're also able to crop, draw and add text.

Through a built-in store, Kwilt offers additional Effects, Stickers and Frames. Most packs are priced at $1.99. There is a bundles section in the shop, although it remained empty during my time with the app.

Kwilts editing tools don't offer any groundbreaking features or functionality (though I will say the teeth whitening tool works impressively well). But with the tools it does have, it could be a good replacement for the iPhone's default Photos app with a few more refinements to the interface.

Using Kwilt captures

As the saturation of the photos app market continues, developers and users alike are constantly looking for something different and unique. Kwilt Captures would be this app's killer feature, letting you create collages quickly, but unfortunately it could use some refining as well.

To create a Kwilt capture you can enter a selection mode when viewing your photos by long-pressing on any picture. A red checkmark will display on the photo, letting you know you can continue selecting more content.

When you've selected all the photos you want in your Kwilt Capture -- and only then -- you can start the process of customizing the Capture. Before you make the next step to move on, however, there is a catch. Once you get started, the app won't let you exit a Kwilt Capture to add more photos without resetting your work. So, if you spend a few minutes rearranging your collage only to realize you need three more photos to complete it, you're going back to square one.

The app's developers said this feature is one they have slated for a future release.

Earlier in this review I mentioned the thumbnails sometimes cut off portions of a photo. The same applies to photos placed in a Kwilt Capture, with the only way to change what's displayed is by relocating the photo within in the collage. In other words, you can't pan or zoom in or out on a photo; you can only increase or decrease its size by moving it to a different location. If the content you want displayed doesn't show up properly in one of the predefined collage placeholders, you're out of luck. The added functionality of editing, zooming, and panning photos within a collage are also being considered for a future update.

Conclusion

Kwilt has a decent foundation of features, but it's lacking refinement. I would love to see an option to lay out photos in a uniform grid, for example, instead of the random sizing approach it takes now. The new layout would help eliminate the need to open a photo just to identify it.

Kwilt Captures look great once you find the right location for photos to be properly displayed, and is something I could see myself using more of -- if I had more control over exactly what was displayed in each respective photo.

The good news is Kwilt is fairly new and off to a great start, but as users provide feedback and new features are added in, it's likely to adapt and improve over time. The app is still worth downloading for creating quick collages, but until it gets some tweaks from the developers, it won't be a good replacement for the default Photos app.

kwiltpromo.jpg
6.4

Kwilt for iOS

Pricing Not Available

Score Breakdown

Setup 7Features 6Interface 6Performance 7