Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Over and Over and Over

I am an app-a-holic.

In particular, I have this compulsive need to download every photo editing app available in the Play Store. We'll have to burrow into my brain and dig around under that rock some other time. Point is, I like me some photo apps.

Unfortunately, the vast majority of them suck. Bad.

So when I read about a "hot new" app called Over being ported to Android from iOS I was skeptical. All it does is overlay text and clipart images onto your photos. Woop-dee-shit.

Sometimes, though, how you do something is more impressive than what.

Radial menu in over slides out.
You can certainly do what Over does with just about any other image editing app on Android. There's no scribble mode, or fancy hipster filters, or even basic photo editing. You can crop for Instagram. You can add text and clip art to your image. That's about it. Over just does it with style and the results look fantastic.

The interface is slick. When you open an image in Over it offers only two choices: Add Text and Add Artwork. After you select one of those two options and do your thing, there's a radial menu that slides out from the right when needed. It has eight simple options: Photos, New, Share,More, Save, Font, Edit, and Add.

That's it.

The interface is what makes Over better than using a full featured image editor. Type text then drag it where you want. Pinch to make it bigger or smaller. Pop out the Edit button if you need to fine tune it or adjust the font or art. Done.

It's one of those 'I guess you had to be there' apps. You need to experience Over to get it.

A few things in Over aren't quite there yet. The help system is practically non-existent. There's a few web based help articles available for the iOS version baked into the More menu option. A simple help overlay explaining the gesture controls would be a welcome edition, ala Snapseed.

Font selection slides out from left.
The artwork and text fonts available are beautifully done and unique. The exclusivity of some of these is a big draw of the program and they are reasonably priced from $0.99 for one set of art or fonts to $9.99 for full packages.

A wider selection, though, would be nice, particularly different themed packages. This where Over has the potential to shine. By offering exclusive and professionally done art and font packages, the app distinguishes itself from the do everything style apps.

This is not one of those stores where you'll drop $3.99 and get a dogpile of art and fonts, most of them complete shite that you'll never use. It is, and should be, a thoughtful process where you only purchase what you need, or more importantly, what represents your particularly style. As long as the quality is there, Over will do very well with this model.

The controls are all visual. That's fine and Over certainly does a great job of making sure elements move smoothly around the screen. However, I'd like an indication of what degree a particular effect or adjustment was applied. Tell me how much opacity I applied to that element so that I can do exactly the same to this element.

Simple element editing and fine tuning.
For example, in the sample image, when set the opacity for the word "Gonna", I can't tell if the words "You Up" are set exactly the same opacity. There's no percentage or numeric value displayed. I have to rely on my shitty eyesight and judgement.

A way to group elements and set color, opacity, size, rotation, and such at the same time for all would be nice. A "snap to element and/or grid" option would be handy, as well. As is, you have to do each individually and eyeball it.

In these sample images, I enhanced and filtered the original picture in Snapseed. I then used Over to do the text. You can see that, even with my crappy hand eye coordination, I was able to get a pretty decent amount of accuracy for the text placement.

The whole process took a few seconds. Very sweet.

Over only does one thing.

It just does it beautifully.

I'd love one photo app that does everything perfectly. Until then, separate apps that do one thing perfectly will do. For text and clipart, Over is the one.

Before Over. Image filtered and enhanced in Snapseed. Cat is Shadix.*

After Over. Text overlayed and styled in seconds. 


-CDE

*Shadix just got his 5 pound ass handed to him by a 20 pound Ragnar the Magnificent. Lesson: Don't pounce on Viking cat's tail when he's asleep, else much pillaging of tiny kitty shall ensue.

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