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

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Classic editing tools

Snapseed's range of editing options is impressive, including nine tools and 11 filters, all with extra options in their submenus to fine-tune their effects. With all of the intensity scales (1 to 100) and different adjustment combinations, the editing possibilities are almost endless.

For quick edits, Tune Image holds all of the brightness, contrast, saturation and other lighting-adjustment options. In that menu is the only place you'll find the Auto Adjust tool, which fixes lighting and color issues for you.

There's a Crop and Rotate tool, plus tools that adjust the sharpness or let you edit the brightness or contrast in a specific area of the photo. The Transform tool adjusts the angle and perspective of the photo and Snapseed fills in any gaps in the background to keep the image square. It works better in some photos than others, and it's a really neat effect. Other tools include Vignette and Spot Repair, which covers blemishes.

And, of course, Snapseed also offers filters. But make no mistake, these aren't the tap-to-apply-style filters that Instagram users might be used to. These filters are divided into categories (such as Lens Blur, HDR Scape, Grainy Film and Noir) and each offers an incredible level of control over attributes like noise, color and texture. The only one that doesn't is the Frames filter, which simply adds 1 of 23 frames to your photos.

New additions

Version 2.0 did away with the Grunge filter, but it brought several new editing tools that make it even more robust.

First is a histogram for each photo that shows the shadows, highlights and midtones on a chart. As you adjust the brightness, contrast and other settings, you can see the histogram change in real time. Professional photographers rely on histograms to help them get the right balance of light and contrast in their photos.

Another new addition is Brush, a helpful tool that lets you paint on your photo with Dodge & Burn, Exposure, Temperature and Saturation effects. Each brush comes with an eraser to remove your edits, but you'll need to adjust the brush's intensity to find it.

The Brush tool allows you to paint Exposure, Saturation and other effects on your photo. The circle shows the size of the brush as you zoom in and out. Screenshot by Sarah Mitroff/CNET

Finally, Snapseed added pinch-to-zoom controls to all of its editing tools. This is particularly helpful when using a brush, because you can zoom in on the photo to edit small sections. The tighter you zoom in, the smaller the brush and thus more control you get.


Because of the incredible level of control it offers, Snapseed is the best app that we've seen for enhancing photos. It comes with an impressive menu of tools, and you can make very fine adjustments that just aren't possible with most other apps. What's more, the swipe-to-adjust control scheme makes it a snap (and a pleasure) to fiddle around with photographic attributes. Snapseed's recent design and feature update is a breath of fresh air that makes the app feel new, without taking away what has always made it great.

That said, there is a learning curve to editing with Snapseed, so don't get discouraged if it feels overwhelming at first. Likewise, if you're looking for an app to add zany or artsy effects to your photos, Snapseed probably isn't it. This app is tailored more for people who are trying to add a certain level of polish and professional quality to their work.

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