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Pixelmator for iPad Review: The best design app on iPad

Pixelmator for iPad is a masterclass in how to port excellent Mac apps to iOS while maintaining functionality, useablility and design


Compatibility • iOS 8 or higher • iPad 2 or newer

Learn more…

Available from… iOS App Store

Price: £2.99/$4.99

If you’ve been lamenting the loss of iPhoto when you updated to iOS 8, or perhaps are holding off on the update to keep enjoying its features, we’ve got good news. Pixelmator is here, offering tools you love from iPhoto and a whole lot more besides.

The first thing you’ll notice is that if you’ve used any of Apple’s iWork apps you’ll feel right at home with Pixelmator. Everything feels familiar – from the icons to the welcome screen. The result is an interface that’s incredibly easy to pick up. There are plenty of menus and options, but we found that we rarely got lost in any of them; the tools we wanted were exactly where we expected. While it takes several taps to get to some of them, we much prefer this interface to those used by other image editing apps, which can be convoluted and confusing.

Pixelmator for iPad is, at its heart, a photo editor. You can control colour, add filters and apply effects that go well beyond what iPhoto could ever do. The Adjust Colors menu offers histogram and curves options, plus sliders for finer control. In effects, you can add things like light leaks, bokeh and distortion effects, all of which can be edited using the neat on-screen controls.

Then there are the Retouch controls to lighten, repair, smudge and more using your finger. Unlike iPhoto, there’s no ‘detect edges’ mode; instead, you can select specific areas of your shot and when you use one of the brushes, it’ll only take effect in that area. It works well and the brushes offer serious power – something we’ve really missed in iPhoto’s absence.

But there’s more to Pixelmator than just photography. You’ll find 63 brush styles, from Japanese brushes to highlighters, included for those who want to paint. They look great and we made some pretty cool images in just a few minutes. You can add shapes to your images, too. This isn’t as powerful as the Mac version – you can’t draw vector shapes freehand, for example – but it does offer some handy tools. Our biggest gripe is the lack of a ‘constrained resize’ option, which makes resizing a perfect circle or square fiddly.

Pixelmator is the best image editor we’ve used on iPad. It’s well designed, highly functional and at £2.99/$4.99 it’s frankly unmissable.

Buy now?

Pros A powerful and adaptable photo editor, and brilliant value

Cons There’s no iPhone version, and some minor features are missing

Orange 5 Stars