Pixelmator Image Editor Updated for iOS

The Pixelmator image editor and paint program was originally available for OS X and found favor with many of those seeking an alternative to the subscription-based Photoshop, before being released for iPad in 2014 year and then subsequently for iPhone.

When it comes to painting, Pixelmator's layer-based environment provides the framework for the use of double-texture brushes, twenty-six blending modes, droppable shapes, a range of color-picking tools and what the developer calls "an impressive, super-fast paint engine." Alignment guides, rulers and "pixel perfect" arrangement settings help line up image elements, while the app's 64-bit architecture and hardware-accelerated image editing give performance a boost. There's even Pixelmator's own "wetness technology" for generating realistic watercolor effects.

The usual functionality for photo manipulation is provided, such as a range of selection techniques, image background removal, levels, color balance, white balance, curves, effects, retouching tools and a few features not found in the iPad version, such as new Clone and Distort tools. When it comes to workflow, users can import and edit Photoshop files and save them in PSD format. And the lack of Adobe's Creative Cloud doesn't seem too tragic when full iCloud support simplifies sharing files between devices.

The Dynamic Touch feature is said to allow users to adjust the stroke size of all Retouch tools without changing the brush settings. The app detects the finger surface area in contact with the screen and automatically adjusts the brush size when the surface area changes. Users can thus use the tip of their finger to create thin strokes and a larger finger surface area for thicker lines, allowing them to retouch images faster and more precisely. Also worthy of note is the Pixelmator Photo Editing extension, which allows users to seamlessly apply Pixelmator photo effects directly within the Photos app.

Version 2.3 is quite a significant update, with the emphasis on making selections. A Quick Selection tool is said to simplify the process of creating complex selections, thanks to an algorithm that analyzes both the colors and textures in an image to determine the outine of the desired object, with the user just having to swipe over it. A separate algorithm then gets to work to determine the ideal outline for the edges of the selection; with the goal of making the object look natural when effects are applied to it or its integrated into anotehr image. Then there's a Magnetic Selection tool that snaps to edges while they area being traced, with users able to tune the results via anchor points. This tool apparently employs a pathfinding method employed in navigation algorithms in video games. Who knew? Both tools were earlier deploayed in the Mac version of Pixelmator, so it's no surprise to now find them in the iOS version. The selection process also now includes an Invert Selection feature, a new "marching ants" design, a content-aware edge smoothing algorithm for the Color Selection tool, a new selection mode and more than a dozen additional selectrion-related tweaks.

Pixelmator 2.3 for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch can be purchased on the Apple App Store for $4.99. More information is available on the Pixelmator site.