layrs, layer editing for iphone photos

New photo app layrs for iPhone promises image editing in layers, but it’s not what you think. It doesn’t really work the way you expect it to.

It’s still an interesting iPhoneography app, just not a great one. Introductory priced for free and I think it’s at least worth a look.

layrs, layer editing for iphone photosPhoto editing in layers has been a staple of Photoshop for desktop since floppy discs. Several high-end photo apps on iPhone support editing in layers, but it’s been mostly a rough start.

Promising “True multi-layer photo editing is finally available on mobile devices!”, layrs is a photo app that enables you to easily separate a photo into layers and edit each layer individually. Not so fast….

I was disappointed at what layrs can not do, but after working with the app, I found what it can do to be fairly interesting.

layrs, layer editing for iphone photos

layrs does not let you create multiple mask areas and combine parts of other images like Image Blender, Filterstorm and other photo apps can do. The app limits you in that you can only select out the foreground to edit separately from the background.

The interface is clean and easy to use. It’s all right there and the tools and effects are all easy to figure out.

You can apply separate effects and adjustments to the background and foreground layers. Your options, again, are limited to 16 effects presets. Their only adjustment is more or less, and even that’s implemented a little oddly. Many of the effects presets look good, though. There are some interesting, but static, effects here that are fun to experiment with. With the limited number and aspect of them, I can see these effects getting old fairly quickly. More effects, better control, and greater variation would help this app a lot.

I like the blur effects a lot. layrs makes it easy to apply motion, focus and radial effects.

Where the app could shine is selective image editing, but again, the tools here are limited to very, very basic tools — brightness, contrast, saturation and sharpen. These will do, but even the Aviary image editing module has a much better toolbox.

All of the tools have an unusual method of application. Instead of an incremental slider, all tools are applied with intensities of 0 through 5, making precise moves impossible.

Masking is easy to do with layers but frustrating. The “Smart mask” grabs edges as you paint over the part of the image you want to select. The tool itself feels pretty “sticky.” Switching between selecting and deselecting is frustrating at first. Even after I figured it out (I think), the app would add to many times instead of subtract from. There’s no way to refine your edge selection, which was pretty rough in most cases.

layrs forces you to crop in square format. I much prefer that as an option and like the choice of standard or square frame. It saves at a passable, medium resolution of 1800×1800 pixels.

layrs is an interesting app for quickly and easily making layer-style edits on one photo and you can quickly make some cool-looking edits. The limited effects look good. I probably won’t use this app for any serious work, but getting past the frustrating mask tool, this is a good app for quickly adding some selective effects. I think there are better apps available that do this, but layrs is introductory priced at free and because of its square format, might make a good companion app for Instagram. Despite my beefs with the app, even as a free app, it’s still a lot better than many paid photo apps.

With some updates, layrs can become a much more powerful app. I like the concept of Smart Mask, but the tool needs improvement and there needs to be a way to easily refine your selections.

But I don’t really think this is what layrs is about. layrs is a good, not great, diversion. It’s an easy way to add basic selective effects to an image, but not much more.

layers is a FREE download. Requirements: Compatible with iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPhone 4S, iPhone 5, iPod touch (3rd generation), iPod touch (4th generation), iPod touch (5th generation) and iPad. Requires iOS 5.0 or later. This app is optimized for iPhone 5.



layrs, layer editing for iphone photos

layrs, layer editing for iphone photos


layrs 1.1

Effects Quality
Resolution & Image Quality
User Interface
Price / Value


Not a true layers editing app, but an interesting app with some good but limited effects, a lot of quirks and decent resolution. I wouldn't call it a great app, but it's free and that makes it work a look.

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