Snapseed for iPad – Overview

Just having fun in Snapseed while checking out features

Previously, some Example Images….
An overview of Nik Software’s Snapseed for iPad. On the day Snapseed was announced (& my 1st iPad was still on a FedEx truck) I thought –

I’ll do a Snapseed tutorial to go along with my Silver Efex Pro 2 tutorial that’s gotten nearly 15,000 hits. 😉

Now that I’ve had two days to use iPad & Snapseed, there’s been a change of heart. It would be a disservice to both products (and their users) even to suggest that a detailed tutorial was necessary- to use either is to know that easy & intuitive is the name of the game. Heck – what Snapseed did, & how, was clear as day within 5-10 minutes of opening it even though I had never used it nor any other app nor an iPad before.
So – where do I go with this non-tutorial. Don’t know. Tag along with me & we’ll find out together. Once the Snapseed rambling posts are complete maybe I’ll come back and edit them into a single more comprehensive document – or not. In the meantime,

  • If you already have an iPad, Snapseed is only $4.99. If you download it now you’ll know as much about it by tomorrow’s next post as you’ll ever need. Easier to learn by doing than to figure out this mad-man’s ramblings. 😉
  • If you don’t own an iPad, you may be wondering the same thing that many of us did. Why should I? I can’t answer that for you but can assure you that it won’t replace your PC/Mac based image editing capabilities just yet. Not with Snapseed, not with anything! An iPad might give you an alternative for some quick and dirty edits and sharing while on travel instead bringing a laptop, but can’t replace your complete photo workflow by a long shot. Even if iPad image editing apps measured up to “real” editors, editing is only a small piece of the digital photography game. Some day tablets may do the job, but that day’s off in the future. If photography is your sole justification to make the leap, look carefully before you leap. Here is an excellent piece on this topic.

Today, for openers, I’ll just go over the basics – very top level sans details.

  • What does it look like?
  • What can it do?
  • How do you use it?

What does it look like?
An aside – Reviewing iPad apps, which are all touch screen based, really requires doing it in video to do it justice, not stills. The following still images are iPad screen shots – hold down iPad’s on/off and start buttons simultaneously and then let them go (else you’ll do an iPad reset if you hold too long) to save the screen shot in iPad’s Photos app folders.
Click these images to see more detail.

These are the two main screens.

  1. The top shows the five Basic adjustments that Snapseed can do.
  2. The bottom is to access Snapseed’s six Enhancement adjustments
  3. I’ll cover these 11 items in another post. In the meantime I’m going to make you click to enlarge if you want to read what these 11 are (did you know that less than 2% of all readers enlarge images or follow embedded links? Sometimes I wonder why bother. ;-))

Common to both screens is –

  1. The current image
  2. An Open Image button, top left, to start with a new image
  3. Help button – upper right
  4. A row of buttons below the current image which allow
  1. Compare current with your starting image
  2. Revert – a 100% “undo”
  3. Save (input can be jpeg or tiff but the output is a jpeg. Snapseed gives it a default numeric name and puts it in the iPad default Photos app folder. No obvious control over this; too bad. File handling, in general, on an iPad is a whole different – and cumbersome – world.)
  4. Share: Email – Send images; Social – Share on Facebook and Flickr; Print – Print wirelessly using Apple’s AirPrint technology

There are a few more screens shown later in the post, but these two are where you begin & end.
What can it do?
From an image editing standpoint, it can do things in two categories (each accessed via one of the two screens shown above) –

Basic Image Editing (details will follow in another post)

Auto Adjust

Image Tuning

Selective Adjustments

Image Rotate and Straighten


Enhancements – these are fun but move your image away from a “standard” photo (except for the B&W). Judging from what I read about smart phone photo apps that’s not a bad thing as it’s hugely popular and some pro’s are making a living teaching “digital art photography on the iPhone.”


Vintage Film



Center Focus

Organic Frames

It’s easy to imagine that both of the above lists can be extended in future releases (I have no actual knowledge of this; just makes sense). In B&W for example there are 6 “styles” available. These are similar to Silver Efex Pro presets and it would be easy for Nik to add more. Also, there are basic features that are missing like –

Histogram display
Levels & Curves adjustment
Noise reduction
and more that I’ll list in another post

which are candidates for adding in future releases. I think that this first version of Snapseed is as much to get Nik some iPad app experience and to get their foot in the door (like Adobe with their free app) as anything. I’m sure that we’ll see more features and improvements in the future (again, just an educated guess).
How do you use it?
It’s so simple that the following screen is the complete Snapseed “manual” once you’re actually editing an image. It was all that I needed to get me going.  It’s shown the first time that you do an edit and after that is accessible only if you click a question mark in the adjustment screen upper right corner.

The Help button mentioned on the main screen offers more comprehensive information as shown next (the option “Show Overlay” displays the above) –

And here are a few examples of adjustment screens. I’ll not say a word about them now – that’s for the oft-mentioned “another post”.


  1. 6/9/11 – Initial Image Examples
  2. 6/10/11 – Overview
  3. 6/11/11 – Interface Usage
  4. 6/12/11 – Before/After Example
  5. 6/13/11 – Basic Editing Features (illustrated)
  6. 6/14/11 – “Fun” Enhancement Features
  7. 6/14/11 – Review (& a Wish List)


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