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Bucking the annoying trend of freemium apps that bait and switch users into paying for initially free digital goods, JellyBus has wisely chosen to maintain two separate versions of its photo editing app: The free (but limited) PicsPlay, and a more robust Pro edition priced at only $3.99. While the free release is no slouch, PicsPlay Pro unlocks the developer’s full arsenal of 200 filters across 10 different themes, along with a wide range of editing features from basic crop and rotate to more sophisticated Color Splash, Tilt-Shift, Text, Stamp, and Border tools.
Photos can be taken inside the app with a few niceties such as Leveler and Timer, or imported from the device or Photo Stream, and the universal build means that PicsPlay Pro works equally well on the iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad. The bulk of the app’s tools are neatly consolidated into six buttons across the bottom of the screen, while a handy Compare button makes it easy to see how far the image has come.
As you work on an image, PicsPlay Pro offers undo or redo for the last several steps, using a handy badge to keep track of how many can be reverted. All editing is done at full resolution while retaining original EXIF data (sorry, no live camera filters here), but the speed is quite impressive and the app proved very responsive on an iPad 3 as well as the iPhone 5s.
JellyBus has left almost no stone unturned – aside from layers or healing brushes, it’s hard to imagine ever needing to step outside of PicsPlay Pro. The latest version works great with iOS 7, and edited images can be saved to Camera Roll, sent to other apps, or shared to social networks like Facebook and Instagram, although the latter service will throw up an error if the official app isn’t installed.
The bottom line. Packing desktop-class features, PicsPlay Pro throws in everything but the kitchen sink, with an intuitive user interface that’s easy enough for novices but full-featured and slick enough to live up to its pro name.
iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad running iOS 5.0 or later
Extensive collection of filters and image editing tools. Responsive and easy to use. Full resolution editing. Limited free version also available.
Lacks desktop features like layers or healing brush. No clear distinction between free and paid versions. Instagram support requires official app.