As a fan of Juicy Bits’ comic-inspired app Halftone, I was excited to give Layout, the developers’ most recent release a whirl. Layout’s aims to enable users to create highly customized photo collages with a few simple taps, and the app lives up to these claims, though it didn’t work as fluidly as I would have liked.
Users can start with a brief tutorial that covers swiping to divide the screen into frames, introduces the radial menu, moving photos, and the color picker.
To make a collage simply open the app, tap the grid button on the lower left and tap new.
Next tap the template menu. The template menu allows the user to control the size of the project, and its layout. Choose shape to change the size and aspect ratio of the layout. Toggle between portrait and landscape settings, or use the slider bar to change the shape and orientation of the project more intuitively.
Once the template is set the user may add photos from the device, or import images from Facebook, Flickr, or Instagram. The user can choose to import captions attached to photos in those accounts if she wishes. Photos can also be adjusted within the frame, so it’s possible to get zoom in or to crop the photo and get just the look you want.
It’s possible to tinker with the collage once photos are added. To move a divider bar, hold a finger on it until it turns blue, then drag it to change its position. Here’s where you get to make Piet Mondrian and/or your high school yearbook advisor proud.
The user can access a number of additional features through the settings menu. This is where one can enable the enhanced picker, set the import size, enable the large project size, toggle auto face zoom on and off, and import captions.
Tap the palette icon to adjust the border color. While the default is grey, users can use the color picker to find a complimentary hue from the photos, or choose from 100 different (and very fetching) patterns.
Layout also comes with a photo editor that allows the user to apply effects, add stickers, draw, remove red-eye, and generally tweak the settings until the photo is just perfect.
When the collage is complete, tap the share icon in the lower left. The user may save her collage to the iPad camera roll, print it (if you have an AirPrint enabled printer), or send it out into the world via email, Facebook, Flickr, or Twitter.
Download Layout for iPad from the App Store for $1.99.
What I liked: Creating collages with Layout was both relaxing and addictive. It offers users strong design and a high level of customization. The app’s numerous bells and whistles make sense, and they made the app more enjoyable to use.
What I didn’t like: More complex layouts (e.g. more than 4 photos) often caused the app to malfunction. Either a photo wouldn’t load, resulting in a blank spot in the collage, and at times the app froze. With trial and error I was able to create one larger photo collage, but it wasn’t easy. Perhaps these glitches will be fixed in an update.
To buy or not to buy: Despite its inability to handle projects with more than 4 photos consistently, Layout is an intuitive and affordable tool to create digital photo collages on the iPad.
- App Name: Layout
- Version Reviewed: 1.0
- Category: Productivity
- Developer: Juicy Bits
- Price: $1.99