The World Doesn’t Need More Do-It-All Camera Apps [Review]


Fotor: yet another all-in-one camera app
Fotor: yet another all-in-one camera app

Another day, another all-singing and all-dancing photography app. This one is called Fotor, priced at one dollar. Do we need more of these? Probably not. Is this one any good? Yeah, mostly. But it doesn’t stand out in the crowd.

Fotor (or to give it its full name, “Fotor – CameraBag”), is yet another one of those all-in-one camera and photo editing apps. I need hardly take you through the list of features on offer, because you can probably list them without thinking. Just trust me when I say that if you can think of a consumer-level photography feature for iOS, it’s probably here.

The theme that ties all apps like this together is managing complexity. There’s a lot going on, there are many different features and views and modes to navigate. How do you design app that includes all the features, but doesn’t overwhelm the user? It’s difficult.

Fotor hasn’t quite cracked it, although it has made a stab at trying. It has a “home page”, reached from elsewhere in the app via a little “home” button in the top-left corner. Bet you never thought your photo apps would need home pages, did you? But that’s one of the tools Fotor uses to make moving around a simpler task. Lost? Go home. Start again from there. How the web used to work.

The home page works as a metaphor, and provides a decent starting point for most tasks you’re likely to want from a camera app. But it’s another step to go through, another hurdle to leap.

It's all in here, but some of it is hard to find

The camera view uses another innovation, a pop-up on-screen circular menu of options. This is where you switch between normal and other shooting modes like HDR, timer, shake-reduce, and so on. It’s quite helpful, once you get used to it. You need to make sure you tap the correct icon, though, because it disappears as soon as you’ve selected one – so if you picked the wrong one, you have to call it up again to switch.

The editing features are OK, but sometimes hard to fathom. I found myself getting confused occasionally. At the top-right there’s an arrow key, presumably indicating the next step. Next to it is a save icon (yes, one that looks like a floppy disk, retro-fans), so you have to learn that tapping save means you’ll save and return to the album view, and tapping the arrow will save and return to edit mode.

It’s usable and does the job, no doubt about that. I found it a little slower than I’d like, and the navigation between modes over-complicated. I’ve said before that making your photo app stand out on the App Store means being different, doing something no-one else has done. Fotor is a decent enough camera app, but it doesn’t stand out from all the rest.

Pro: Functional. Cheap.

Con: Sometimes confusing and over-complicated UI; not enough new ideas to stand out.