Version 1.1
Price: $0.99

Rating 2 stars

Bottom line: Pushing around the pixels doesn’t easily create smooth, gooey effects. The resolution on an iPhone is way too low to be useful.

Remember back in the mid-1990’s when the filter set Kai’s Power Tools was all the rage for Photoshop users? For a while, we were treated to a lot of album covers with the big puppy eyes of Beautiful Freak by eels (one of my favorite bands, by the way. Many of those goo effects were created by a plugin called Kai’s Power Goo. PhotoGoo by JQ Software creates the same goo effect on your iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch.

PhotoGoo for iPhone screenshot

PhotoGoo creates the look of the old goo effects but lacks the tools and finesse of the Photoshop plug-in. Where the plug-in actually had a finger-shaped cursor, you use your finger to push the pixels around onscreen to seriously distort images. One would think that painting onscreen would give more precise control than an old cursor, but that’s not really the case. I wasn’t able to create the nice, smooth effects that the plug-in created. The goo effects I painted in PhotoGoo weren’t smooth, often with a sharp edge. Multiple strokes didn’t blend well with each other. Most significant, after several attempts to get the eyes right, I still wasn’t able to push the pixels out to create the Beautiful Freak effect. In the Photoshop plug-in, it would have been fairly easy and smooth to do. I even had to use one of the developer’s screenshots for this review. After thirty minutes, I still wasn’t able to get results passable enough to show.

There is only one level of undo and it’s an all or nothing option — it erases all of your edits and takes you back to the original image. If you get lucky and create several good edits but then blow it on the eyes, for example, there is no way to undo your last edit without losing all of your previous good ones.

The app saves at an unacceptable, super-low 320×436 pixels on an iPhone — unusable for just about anything but a mobile phone screen. The description says the resolution has been “improved”, but I suspect that’s only for the iPad version as the app just seems to save a screen capture to your camera roll. With such low resolution, I don’t think the app has even been optimized for iPhone 4.

The app only works with tall, portrait images. Loading a wide, landscape image into the app compresses and distorts the image — and not in a good way.

PhotoGoo is easy to use, but difficult to get the fun, Kai-like effects. The orientation bug and the low-resolution output make this app pretty much unusable, even just for creating fun snapshots to share on Facebook. The app sells for $0.99, but has been on special for free recently. Without more major improvements, the app definitely isn’t worth paying for when the price goes back up.

PhotoGoo is universal and may work better on an iPad. Right now, PhotoGoo on the iPhone is more frustrating than fun.

App Store link: PhotoGoo



Related link:
Life In LoFi: “Rant: It’s Not a Crusade Against All 320×480 Apps”