I’m always on the lookout for new ways to process images on my tablet.  I love the flexibility to pull an image from my Photo Stream and push it a bit further.  Sometimes its to correct the image, other times to stylize it.

I recently downloaded the app Alayer (available for iPad and iPhone). At 99¢, it’s a pretty easy decision to make if I’ll give an app a try.  In this case, I’m glad I did.  The application is easy to use and works with a simple concept.  Effects and adjustments can be layered.

To start, you simply make a new project.  You can open an image from your Camera Roll or Photo Stream.  Additionally you can use the camera on your iPhone or iPad as well.


To jump start the process, you can choose from 17 effect presets.  While these are pleasing and match many popular looks, they aren’t that important.  I found that applying some of the presets useful as a fader slider allowed the effect to be backed off for a more subtle look.


Tapping the plus button let’s you add additional effects as layers.  I admit I’m a bit of a texture junkie and I liked many of the textures included with the app. The app in fact includes 80+ textures organized into five categories.

  • Textures
  • Lens Flares
  • Gradients
  • Light Leaks
  • Coloring

The app holds lots of little surprises as well including the ability to selectively blur and erase texture overlays.


What really makes these fun to use is that each can be blended. The app provides 15 different blending modes as well as an opacity slider to refine.  This is where the real magic happens as the editor avoids creating cliché effects by giving the user control over blending and intensity.


The real standout fears for me though were the versatile color adjust effects.  The controls are easy to use and adjustments can be easily stacked and combined. The Exposure, Shadow, and Highlight controls worked especially well and provided professional quality results.


I really liked how easily layers could be managed.  A thumbnail of each effect is visible across the bottom.

  • Tap the X button to remove the effect
  • Tap the settings button to edit the effect (making each layer a nondestructive adjustment).  I really prefer this workflow over how most apps handle effects.  For example, I use Snapseed a lot, but an effect cannot be edited after you add another layer.
  • Tap the visibility button to remove an effect.
  • Drag the effects into a new order to change the processing result.


The versatility of the app is quite apparent the more I work with it. In fact I find myself using just the Color Adjust effect and processing controls to make the app a useful editing tool for mobile workflow.

Once an image is done, just tap the share button.  You can then save the results back to your camera roll, or share via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or email.


At 99¢, the app should be a no-brainer.  Whether you want a versatile image editor or the ability to quickly process effects, the app works well.  I’ve added it to my regular toolbox for processing images on the go.


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About Richard Harrington

Richard Harrington is the founder of RHED Pixel, a visual communications company based in Washington, D.C. He is the Publisher of Photofocus and Creative Cloud User as well as an author on Rich has authored several books including From Still to Motion, Understanding Photoshop, Professional Web Video, and Creating DSLR Video.


Phoneography, Review, Software