Aviary: Pushing the Limits of Mobile Image Editing

I have been a huge admirer of Aviary for a long time now. I don’t use their web apps often, but I’m in awe at them for showing the world what web apps are capable of. The range and quality of their toolkit on the web is praiseworthy. It’s no wonder that the developers have started licensing their toolkit to peer their apps.

Image editing in the mobile phone genre is largely powered by Aviary, and the most famous example of this is the recently launched Twitpic app. Not just comfortable being in the background, Aviary has launched its official iOS app in the app store. Let us go check out how functional it is.
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Getting Started

Instruction decks doubling as sample images for editing.

Instruction decks doubling as sample images for editing.

I have an iPhone 3GS without a Retina display. Still, I found the Aviary icon and the launch screen design to be simply exquisite. The combination of colors and the attention to detail are impeccable. Though not as flashy, the user interface is refined and clutter free. It’s worth noting the smart use of instruction decks as sample images for editing — smart thinking!

Predictably, Aviary allows you to edit images from your gallery or by taking an image right from the app. If you don’t want to jump back and forth to the gallery to edit images, turn on the Location feature for Aviary from the Settings screen. Once that’s done, all your images will be available for quick edit from the app itself.

Editing an Image

The image editor interface looks far better. After playing around with the app for a few hours, I realized how thoughtfully the app was organized, although I wasn’t sure about the logic behind the order of arrangement of the image editing tools.

A number of tools to nip and tuck with.

A number of tools to nip and tuck with.

Frankly, I don’t like touching up images. Except for cropping them, I don’t want to alter the captured moment in any other way. I’m fairly new to editing images and I was curious to see how friendly and functional the app is to a newbie.

Adding Effects

The tool set is split into three different types and spread over three screens. Swipe across the tools to bring the other tool sets. Do note that swiping elsewhere on the screen will take you nowhere.

Well thought out and organized tool kit.

Well thought out and organized tool kit.

To be honest, I can’t imagine any feature with regards to image editing that hasn’t found its way into the app. The tools are placed at convenient positions, which makes them easier to access on both the tiny screen of the iPhone or the ten-inch display of an iPad.

Filter packs for purchase.

Filter packs for purchase.

Effects can be applied by clicking on their respective icons and there is a live preview as well. To actually apply an effect, you’ll have to click on the Apply button at the top. This step ensures that you aren’t messing up the image with a tool that you are unsure about. Like a true professional image editor, Aviary gives you enough room to make up your mind about what do you with your images.

Goofing Things Up

So what good is an image editing app if doesn’t offer filters? Aviary has plenty of options to help you goof things up in your image. Filters are available as in app purchases and sadly, there is only one that’s available for free.

Hats, flying caps, mustaches, comment bubbles and more!

Hats, flying caps, mustaches, comment bubbles and more!

Don’t be let down though! You should try the Stickers. These are insanely funny, and there are quite a few to take advantage of. Since most of the images might involve living beings, common accessories like hats, glasses, ties, thought bubbles, etc. are rampant.

Social Sharing Options.

Social Sharing Options.

The beauty is, these stickers aren’t rigid. Meaning, once selected you can tilt, resize and move them around at will.

Final Thoughts

Aviary is free and it makes your iPhone or iPad a portable image editing powerhouse. When I got this review idea approved, there was only the iPhone app available and I was thrilled to be able to slice, dice and spice up images on the go. A few weeks ago, the iPad version also was introduced and even though the look and feel is the same, I am very fond of the latter. This bias is largely due to the flexibility of using the app in either portrait or landscape modes.

As far as image editing is concerned, Aviary does a marvelous job, thanks largely to its comprehensive collections of tools and effects. And the dev team does a fabulous job at making things better; in a recent update, images can be shared be as soon as you’re done. So, it’s a perfect app that gets better with every upgrade — what else is needed?


A mobile image editing app with one-click auto enhance tools to make editing easier than ever.

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