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2016 March 29
by macjeff

Filteract (Free) by Filteract is a photo editing app that allows photographers to selectively apply filters onto images. If you are in the market for a standalone app that lets you be selective about how to apply your filters, then Filteract could be worth a look.

Ever since I got my first iPhone back in 2008, my interest in mobile photography bloomed. Even though the cameras were definitely not great back then, I enjoyed having the ability to take some decent enough pictures (at the time) that I was able to share with friends and family online. As time passed, the cameras got better and better (mostly since the iPhone 4), and one of my favorite hobbies is just going out and taking photos with my iPhone. I’m not a professional, but I opted for my iPhone 6s Plus because of the camera enhancements over the smaller counterparts, and have yet to regret my decision (though that iPhone SE form factor is tempting). Since the App Store opened up, I have downloaded many different photo editing apps to tweak my images into something share-worthy, and while I think I’ve reached peak photo editing app collection, I still enjoy checking out new things when they catch my eye. So when I saw Filteract info hit my inbox, I was intrigued because hey, an app that can make the selective coloring and filtering process magical? Why not? While the app is decent enough and works well, it may not be enough.

Filteract has a simple and clean design that tries to stay out of the way so you can focus on the photographs at hand. The app has a dark theme, as most photo editor apps do, which places the emphasis on your images for each screen section. The icons for each tool are pretty straightforward and recognizable, so there isn’t much of a learning curve here. The filters at the bottom give you a preview of what your image would look like with it applied, which means less guesswork and faster results. I found Filteract to be responsive and render filters quickly on images, which is always a good thing. Overall, Filteract’s minimalistic design makes it easy to get your photos in, edit them with a few taps and pinches, and then be on your way to share your creations.

There are two main ways to get images into Filteract: import from your Photo Library or get a new capture from the Camera. Other options that the app gives you include sample images, loading a saved session, or getting an image from your iCloud Drive account. Once you have your image, use your finger to scroll the filter ribbon along the bottom, which shows you a preview of how the filter looks on the image before you apply it. Again, this is a nice touch and means less of a surprise when you find out how bad a filter works with certain images.

There are a few ways to apply a filter to your photo. If you want the filter to be applied to the entire image, just long-press the filter and it will get slapped on the whole thing. If you double-tap a filter, it brings up the filter intensity adjustment slider, so you can make the effect stronger or weaker. By default, it seems the filters are set to 50 percent so they aren’t too weak or overwhelming.

Even after you set your first filter, the fun doesn’t stop there. Since Filteract is a selective filtering app, you can use several different filters at once on a single image. For example, you can take the color out of an entire photo by using the Mono, Noir, High-Key, or Wane effects, and that sets the stage for selective coloring of objects with the other filters. To do this, just select one of the colored filters you like, and then tap on the paint roller or magic paint tools in the toolbar to apply the color filter on certain parts of the photo.

The paint roller is your typical paintbrush tool, allowing you to “paint” the filter on wherever you want. Since there is no way to adjust the size of the paint roller, it doesn’t prove to be very accurate when your image is zoomed out so that it fits on the screen. If you opt for the paint roller tool, then it’s recommended to zoom in on the image with the pinching multitouch gesture that we are all familiar with by now.

If you are like me and don’t like to do a lot of the legwork yourself, then you can opt for the magic paint tool. This lets you touch specific parts of the photo and the color will automatically flow through. Or you can use strokes to color in specific areas. This method is better for complicated shapes and objects that you want to fill in with a colored effect, though sometimes it doesn’t get it 100 percent correct. If that’s the case, then you may want to use the paint roller to do final touchups.

Once you’re done with your image, just tap on the “Share” button to bring up a Share Sheet. You can save the image to photos, share on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, or email it. Other actions you can take are saving the session, open the image in another app, save to iCloud Drive, copy, or print.

However, since Filteract is a free download, it will stamp a watermark on all of your images before it saves. I found the watermark a bit too large and obtrusive, since it features the logo and is always in the bottom right corner. To remove it, you’ll have to cough up $0.99 for an in-app purchase. I’m not sure this is worth it, since you can accomplish mostly the same thing in other premium photo editing apps, such as Enlight, which also does a lot more. There are also other filter packs (Color Swap, Photography, and Vintage) that will cost you $0.99 a pop, and there is no bundle option for all of the IAPs (including watermark removal), which is annoying.

I thought Filteract was a cool-looking app at first, especially the magic paint tool, since that could make life easier. However, I’m a bit let down, as it is still tricky to use with complicated objects and lighting, and personally, I am fairly tired of the one-trick pony photo editing apps out there. When I have complete and comprehensive photo editing suite apps like Enlight at my disposal, I don’t see a real need for apps that just do one thing anymore.

But since Filteract is a free download, it can still be worth checking out if you are in the market for a selective color and filtering app. Filteract is available on the App Store as a universal download for free with in-app purchases.

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