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It's hard to keep track of the seemingly countless photographic editing tools on the App Store, but Tangent actually brings some new tricks to the virtual light table, combining some very appealing graphic design elements together with a really slick, effortless interface, making it easy and enjoyable to add visually pleasing effects to any picture.
You start by opening an existing image or taking one with your iPhone camera; the next step has you choose one of a selection of base “styles,” each with three different types of customizable elements — color/blend mode, fill, and mask. Multitouch gestures are used to customize elements; pinch to dynamically resize an overlay, two fingers to rotate — it’s all here, and experimenting with different combinations is fast and fun. The elements are basic but visually attractive, and you can get down into the details with controls for customizing things like the size and rotation of fill patterns, which is a really slick touch. You can’t add your own custom shapes — something we’d like to see in a future version — and the app isn’t yet universal, which is a pity, as the expanded screen size of an iPad would be a perfect match for Tangent.
Mind you, those with Photoshop and some time on their hands could duplicate anything this app can create, but the decent selection of mask shapes and base styles make it really effortless to create effects that look like they take a lot longer to cook up than than they actually do. It's easy for apps like this to create cheesy or unnecessarily over-tweaked shots, but Tangent's results are often visually sophisticated, and offer loads of style.
The standard version of the app contains a limited number of graphics elements and overlays, with a pair of $0.99 in-app purchases delivering the full range of creative building blocks. Both are very reasonable expenses for such useful additions.
The bottom line. While it won’t take away the need for dedicated graphics design apps, Tangent is a quick, easy, and inexpensive way to quickly add effects to photos, which makes it an excellent little tool.
iPhone or iPod touch running iOS 6.1 or later
Very easy to use. Lots of nice visual effects. Inexpensive and with reasonable in-app purchases.
No iPad version. Lacks custom element import.