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At this point, it’s easy to get lost in the endless stream of iOS photo apps that basically offer variations on the expected themes of color tinting, vignetting, posterization, and other usual suspects. While lots of them are nice, it all gets a bit repetitive and predictable. Every now and then, something unique and different pokes through the pack, and Tangled FX is exactly the kind of app we love to see. It might seem a little limited in scope, but it’s a darned good gag with enough flexibility to make it compelling, plus a look that is like nothing else we’ve ever seen.
Think of a really powerful Photoshop filter, and you’re halfway to understanding what to do with Tangled FX. Open an image or use your camera to get started, and you’ll see a slide-out panel at the bottom of your screen with a series of named effect presets; tap on one, and within a few seconds, you'll see the effect “build” on the screen, followed by the final processed image. Obviously, whether or not this is an app that you’d want to spend money on depends entirely upon whether you find the results visually appealing. I was enchanted by what Tangled FX did to images of faces, animals, and other sundry subjects. The overall effect is really quite distinctive and visually pleasing — and this is coming from someone who has seen 20 years of Photoshop filter development and other graphics wizardry.
The 16 presets are just that; they’re not different core effects, but variations on a theme. If you tap on the Tune button, you’ll see the sliders that let you dial in your own settings, though be advised that you’ll want to go into the sparse Settings screen and toggle on the “Advanced Effects Settings” switch so you have full access in the Tune popup. Another really nice feature is that you can use Tangled FX to work with images up to 16 megapixels in size. The only issue we ran into is that we’d like to use a lower-res image and rasterize the effect into a higher target resolution, a trick we learned from Synthetik Software’s amazing Studio Artist for Mac.
The bottom line. Tangled FX is a bit of a one-trick-pony, but it’s one heck of a nice pony.
iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch running iOS 5.0 or later
Excellent graphic "look." Lots of customization options. Easy to use with quick rendering results.
The one primary effect may not appeal to everyone. Can't use low-resolution images and rasterize effects into higher target resolution.