The App: Etchings
The Device: iPhone 4
The Price: 99 cents
The Basics: What’s this? Oh, it’s another photo filter app. But not so fast! This one doesn’t age your photos like Instagram or transform them into pop art like Popsicolor. Etchings does exactly what it’s name implies: it turns your pictures into etchings (i.e., a design carved or cut into a surface, often metal). Nothing in the design of Etchings will be a surprise to anyone who has downloaded another photo filter app or two in their lives, so this is an app that lives and dies by the actual results…does it succeed?
The Review: Yeah, pretty much. Etchings sure can create some pretty pictures, even if it’s breaking no new ground whatsoever.
Etchings is wise to dispense with any kind of BS up front. At this point, everyone with a smartphone knows how to instinctively navigate apps like this, so it was wise to make getting in and getting out of this app as quickly as possible a priority. Etchings loads fast, operates fast and gets the job done fast. There was never one point in the process of using Etchings where I felt like things were taking too long or I got impatient. This is definitely an app for the ADD generation.
Here’s the app in a nuthshell.
On the main page, you can choose Camera or Photos, with the former letting you take a fresh picture and the latter letting you browse your personal library. Once you have your photo of choice, you scale your image for the dimensions of the app, which should be familiar to anyone who has used Instagram. When that’s done, you’re on the main etching page, which should also be familiar to anyone who has used Instagram. There eight etchings options to choose from, ranging from Raven (a classy, simple, B&W style) to Spectrum (heavily saturated colors ont top of your etching) to Franklin (which makes your photo look like it belongs on money). At the bottom of the screen, you can toggle to a second series of options, which let you change the width of the lines on your etching (think thin to heavy, ultra light to extra bold). Once you’ve selected your two options, tap the check mark at the top of the page and voila! You have yourself an etching.
Like with all apps of this type, your results will depend on your personal choice in filter and whether or not your photos were any good to begin with. I’ve never been dissatisfied with the app when I use it properly. It’s a more-than-solid product. It’s a fine app.
But at the same time, it feels a little like treading water. Someone needs to change the photo filter game. Something needs to come along and kick this genre in the pants like Instagram did. Until then, I can certainly admire an app like Etchings, but I can’t help but wonder “What’s next?”
The Final Grade: B