Daily Mac App: Analog (Updated)

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Daily Mac App: Analog (Updated)

It's funny. As the cameras in our iPhones get more spectacular capabilities, more apps are appearing every day to give those beautiful high-resolution photos scratches, tints, and frames that make them look ... well, not so nice.

Analog (Realmac Software, US$7.99 introductory price) is another Mac app that lets you change the look of your photos with an assortment of filters and borders. Others that you might want to check out before you make your choice are Flare ($9.99 through the Mac App Store right now or $19.95 on the Iconfactory website) and FX Photo Studio ($9.99).

All of these apps pretty much do the same thing. You open a photo file or drop it onto the app, and you're presented with a number of preset filters that change texture, blur, saturation, brightness, contrast and tint. There are probably more settings, but I'm just picking a few. Why would you want to do this to a nice, clear digital photo? A lot of photos look good, but seem to lack emotional impact. Adding an effect to a photo often brings back that impact, by reminding people of photos from the past or by adding dramatic coloration.


Of the apps I've listed here, Analog is by far the easiest to use. You just drag a photo to the app, drop it on the blank area of the Analog user interface, and then click on a filter or border. A small pop-up shows four icons, which are used to toggle between your original photo and the processed image, crop the image, rotate the image, or share. Sharing can be done a number of ways -- saving it to your disk, sending it via email, or saving to CloudApp, Facebook, Flickr, or Picasa.

I ran into an interesting and very repeatable error when dragging photos from iPhoto version 9.1.5 (615) to Analog. Each time I did this, the image ended up with a black square in the middle of it. Once this bug started, any photo coming from either the Finder or iPhoto ended up with a black square in it.

Analog comes with 19 filters (plus "normal"), some of which are quite nice. However, the app lacks the fine control that is included with Flare, where you can actually adjust each filter and setting. Flare even lets you save and share your self-designed filters, and there's actually a preset library where you can download new presets for free. That means that Flare not only has 31 filters -- 11 more than Analog -- but you can download well over 50 other effect presets to add to the capabilities of the app.

There are also 13 frames that come with Analog. That's a bit of a bonus, since Flare doesn't come with many effects that add a border -- although you can add them through the preset editing function.

Realmac needs to add to the number of filters in Analog as soon as possible, and should also consider adding the capability of tweaking the effects so users can create their own. All in all, Analog is an easy-to-use app, but either needs a price cut or more capabilities to compete against some of the existing photo effects apps.

Update: Realmac Software spokesman Nik Fletcher noted that they're aware of the "black box" bug and are working on a fix. In addition, Realmac is working on adding more filters and upload destinations, and also adding the capability to adjust effects in the future.

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