Layout for iOS (free), recently released by Facebook-owned Instagram, gives users an elegant and easy way to create quick collages.
Collage apps have been around since the inception of the App Store, and CNET's Jason Parker did a recent comparison to show that. But even without many extras, the app is so easy to use that it's hard not to recommend it for collage-making fans.
The first launch of Layout walks you through a brief tutorial going over the various controls for selecting then inserting a photo, and how to resize or move pictures around. A few swipes later, you're placed at the main screen of the app.
It's important to note you don't need to have an Instagram account to use Layout. It's for everyone and you can create collages for any social network.
Once you grant the app permission to access your Camera Roll, you get a better feel for the interface. Photos are placed at the bottom two-thirds of your screen, with example layouts placed in the top third once you begin selecting photos.
Creating a collage
Overall, I found navigating Layout to be very intuitive. Tapping on a photo places it atop your gallery into a Layout. You can add up to nine photos per layout, with each addition causing the thumbnail layouts atop the screen to readjust to make room for new photos.
Scrolling through the various layouts is done by swiping across your screen to the left, and when you've found one you want to customize you tap on it.
Along the bottom of the screen is an option to view all of your photos, a Faces section and a Recents section.
The Faces page analyzes your photo library, then pulls out photos which have a face and displays them. This is a great feature, especially if you want to combine a bunch of photos from a recent party or trip with a friend. The app is not perfect at identifying faces, but it does well enough that you can put together a collage of a friend quickly.
One anomaly during my testing was that it kept identifying a face within a screenshot of a text conversation. I only point this out so that you remember to double check that the app is grabbing the photos you want.