February 6, 2012 | by Andrew Kameka
Cameras on Android phones have come a long way since the T-Mobile G1, but as we’ve seen with any kind of camera, there’s always room for improvement once an image is captured. Aviary Photo Editor is a new plug-in for Android that does more than just improve an image; it transforms it into something better looking or completely new.
Aviary is known on the desktop for a suite of image editing products, and the mobile version of the app is smooth entrance into a new format. The app works by taking an image that has already been captured with a camera, or imported from a gallery, and sets to changing things with adjustments or filters. The Enhancements section has auto-correction that fixes imbalanced lighting, and Saturation and brightness can be adjusted to increase or decrease color intensity. Changes are applied by swiping a dial to get just the right effect, which can create the perfect image when combined with other fixes.
Aside from merely editing an image with enhancements, crops, orientation changes, or red eye correction, Aviary also includes a set of filters in the Effect section. Popularized by apps like Instagram and Magic Hour, filters apply retro or highly stylized effects to your images. The “Vivid” effect raises contrast and brightness, “Singe” adds a sunset-like glow, and “Soft Focus” brings back that classic mall photo booth appearance.
There are 11 effects included in the app, but users can purchase “Grunge” or “Nostalgia” upgrade packs for $0.99 each. Aviary lacks the filter customization options of some other apps, but the included packs look beautiful if you are into this style of mobile image creation. (Plus, you can use standard adjustments to make further changes.)
After playing with Aviary for a few days and testing several images, I found it to be on par with most of the style camera apps I’ve reviewed. The only problem is that this isn’t an “app” in the traditional sense – it’s a plugin. Aviary can only launch by going to a camera/gallery app and pressing the edit or share/export buttons to begin editing. This can creates headaches if errantly pressing the back button too many times or switching to another app and being unable to return to your in-progress image. Users have to make changes right away because pressing the back button too many times loses all progress and there’s no way to return to it should you go home or get an incoming call.
With that said, this is still something that I’d recommend people try. While some image editors focus on filters, others on color/lighting adjustments, and others on adding fun things like stickers or text, Aviary manages to do all three. And do them very well.