Hands-on with Handy Photo

Handy Photo was updated to version 2 last month and I finally got around to trying it out. It is made by the same group that does TouchRetouch and AntiCrop and I use both of those, so I wanted to see what it was like.

Handy Photo GUI
Handy Photo GUI on the iPad

The Universal app (currently $1.99) is a full photo editor that allows you adjust colors, tones, textures, and filters on the entire image or just local regions. It also lets you crop, anticrop, and retouch images to remove unwanted elements. As if that is not enough, the app also lets you move things around in your image and cloning tools. I’m really surprised and impressed with how many features are wrapped in this single app.


– Global and local tone and color correction options
– Partial application option in Filters tool
– Advanced retouching technology for mobile platforms
– Move Me technology for smart objects extraction and moving
– Magic Crop tool with unique photo “un-cropping” function
– High-quality textures and frames
– 100% size image editing
– Up to 36 MP image support
– RAW format support
– Optimized for multi-core and GPU processors
– Stylish and intuitive UI

I first tried the app on my iPad 3 (the first retina screen iPad) and even though my iPad is pretty old, the app felt snappy. After using it a bit on the iPad I went ahead and tried it on my iPhone 5. I was a bit worried that the GUI might feel tight on the iPhone, but it turned out to be just fine. It’s easy to zoom in/out to get close views of the image when you need to and as the menus pop in/out you get a good clear view of your image even on the iPhone.

Here is the before/after that I did on my iPhone. I snapped a photo of myself sitting here in a coffee shop while typing this post. The first thing I did was retouch to remove the artwork above my head. I then rotated the image a bit. The anti-crop (smart crop) filled in the image nicely but left just a bit of excess creases in my sweatshirt, so I once again used the retouch feature to remove it, along with the reflection in my glasses.

I applied the B&W filter but only at a 90% level, so it left a tiny tinge of color. I made use of the channel mixer that goes along with this filter. That is an amazingly well placed tool making it so easy to get a great look on your B&W shot. I used the tilt-shift filter to blur the background. I then tweaked the contrast overall and tweaked the shadow level. Finally, I wanted my eyes to be a bit sharper, so I locally increased brightness and contrast on my eyes. It took me about two minutes to do this (eyes were the longest part…always tough to improve brown eyes with “coffee shop” lighting conditions – it was much easier to see the improvement on the full size image before I shrunk these). I then added a frame to finish it off.

Of course, this picture really does nothing to show off the power of this app. The developer has posted a number of great YouTube videos to help you learn how to use the full power. I watched them and after just a few minutes I learned about some features I wasn’t even aware of. Very nice.

There are far more videos on their YouTube page that cover things such as applying filters locally, dealing with frames, and overall techniques.

One thing that may be a bit confusing is when you first go to change the look of a texture (such as the wood) a selection of different woods will show up, but only one is visible at first. The others all show up with little spinning arrows indicating they are loading. Depending on your connection speed, this can take awhile.

The only other negative on this app is the fact that it uses “destructive” editing. Once you have made several changes you won’t be able to go back and tweak a prior step and have it keep your other steps intact. However, you can go back in time in a nice drop down list, and start your sequence of changes again from that point.

Overall this app is a great app with some unique features. Having the anticrop and retouch features included really makes this app great if you don’t want to have to switch to many apps to do the same thing. If you only want to make really quick changes the auto levels feature will let you do that, but for those that want to do more heavy duty editing on your iPhone you can go ahead and do that in this app. The simplicity of the channel mixer with the B&W filter is one of my absolute favorite features of this app. Well done.

Handy Photo can be downloaded on iTunes.

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