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What Is Snapseed


Nik Software, Inc.

Google purchased Nik Software, the developer of Snapseed. The September 17, 2012 purchase is widely seen as an answer to Instagram, but I see this as part of a continuing effort by Google to improve their photo editing and sharing software in general. Nik Software makes a wide range of photo filters plug-in products, and they specialize in High Dynamic Range or HDR filters. That's a seriously hot photo technique used by a lot of pro photographers. If Google can manage to bring that level of quality photography into their photo products like Picasa and Google+, they'll manage to win over the pros. Where the pros go, the "prosumers" and amateurs will follow.

Even so, the item you're likely to hear more about than Nik's pro filters is Snapseed. 

So, what is Snapseed?

Snapseed is a $4.99 iTunes app or $19.99 Windows or Mac app. An Android version was in the works. With their recent acquisition by Google, I'd expect it to likely be considerably more free once the Android version was released.

Snapseed is often described as an Instagram competitor. That's slightly true in that both apps allow you to take pictures from your phone or tablet, apply filters, and share them on different platforms. I'd say Instagram is much easier to use in a point, filter, share sense. Snapseed is more of an artist's tool with more advanced features. It's the app you use when you want to take longer to make something a little more advanced.

Snapseed offers filters to increase or reduce saturation, and selectively apply filters. There are also creative photo frames, textures, grunge, and lighting effects. Snapseed doesn't offer the stickers and other consumer "fun" effects that Google already offers with their Creative Kit.

Neither app is the desktop version of Photoshop. Yet. If you combine Nik software with the tools Google already acquired with Picnik and already folded into Google+, you've got quite a powerhouse of photo editing. What Nik really adds to Google's portfolio is better mobile expertise. Google+ photo editing and filters are fantastic, but they're mostly stuck on your desktop. 

System Requirements

  • Apple iPad, iPod or iPhone
  • iPod Touch 3rd Generation
  • iPod Touch 4th Generation
  • iPhone 3GS
  • iPhone 4,
  • iPhone 4S
  • All iPad models (as of 2012) including iPad, iPad 2, and iPad 3.

If your iPad didn't come with a camera, you cannot use camera specific features, but it does run on most iThings released in the last couple years. Snapseed will also downsize images that exceed the device's capacity to edit them, but the image size goes all the way up to 20.25 MP images on the iPad 3. That's into pro territory, and one of the reasons Snapseed isn't really an Instagram wannabe.

Snapseed supports JPEG, TIFF photos, and RAW photos on iPad, when they're transferred using the Camera Connector Kit.

Android Version

The pre-announced Android version as described by Snapseed would run on Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) and later, making it primarily work on devices released in the last two years, including the Nexus 7 and Android tablets. This would not support Kindle Fires as currently configured. The device must have a Tegra 2 or 3 processor and screen resolution of 960x720 or higher. That means you need to have a fairly fast device and big screen, making it something for tablets and phablets.

Even though Google purchased the company, don't look for them to lower the minimum requirements. Snapseed offers some serious photo editing tools, and it would make slower machines cry to even attempt it. However, that's really good news for recent Android tablet owners, since photo editing tools have been somewhat lackluster compared to the iPad and iPhone.


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