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Appiphilia: Fun with photos on your iPhone

January 13, 2009 | 11:13 am

Your iPhone camera can be as fun as that Fisher Price camera you got as a kid So you've got a camera feature on your iPhone. You can tap out, in an instant, pictures of your friends, celeb sightings or that plate of fried fish that looks as if it's screaming. Now what?

Sure, you could e-mail them to friends. But since the iPhone doesn't offer MMS (multimedia messaging service, the photo/video counterpart to SMS), you surely can't send them to other cellphones yet. Or can you?

For this week's Appiphilia, we look at a few applications that give you some creative options for what to do with photos on your phone.

After the jump, read the reviews and weigh in with comments about your fav photo apps.

Flutter Flutter (99 cents)

What it is: This app mimics the MMS that iPhone users don't have, lament not having and still long for. You can snap a new pic or use one from your library and send it to another Web-enabled cellphone. The photos can be geotagged as well. You can send the photo to multiple cellphone numbers, even international ones.

What sizzles: Dude, you can send virtual MMS! That's liberating. It's hard feeling left out, especially when you're accustomed to being part of a semi-exclusive club (the iPhone club).

It's really easy to use. You can enter the number manually or from your address book.

Since you're technically sending the message via Wi-Fi or the data network, you don't incur text messaging fees. (Standard texting fees apply for the recipient.) You don't have to send photos, and you can actually send text messages this way -- you just have to attach your location.

What fizzles: Unless others are using the app, you still can't receive multimedia messages. (And your partners would have to be iPhone users because the app isn't available for other phones because ... well, they already have MMS capabilities.) It's been royally embarrassing to reply that my souped-up smartphone isn't smart enough to let me see that photo a friend with a, in my view, lesser phone just sent.

Bottom line: Flutter lets iPhone users virtually get a small piece of the MMS action.

Be on the lookout for Flutter Pro. I learned at the Consumer Electronics Show (see a full roundup of our CES coverage here) that the app, which Apple is currently considering adding to its App Store, eliminates that step of following a link. OMG! Real MMS? Stay tuned.

Photon Phanfare Photon (free)

What it is: This photo- and video-sharing app lets you walk with all the life moments.

What sizzles: It's what MobileMe's photo album functionality should have been. I found myself spending lots of time compiling photo albums and inserting video. The iPhone app interacts easily with the Web version as well as the Mac and Windows desktop applications and plug-ins. I put my entire family album on there and ordered the photos chronologically. Within a minute or two, they showed up on my phone.

What fizzles: It's best to batch-import from computer to Web and let your iPhone snag it that way. The import from the iPhone does take time. Wi-Fi or 3G is mandatory for video playback; otherwise it's painfully slow.

Bottom line: A nice way of having access to your photo library without the photos residing on your phone. Plus, there are some neat camera features on their way -- assuming they get the OK from Apple -- in the upgrade that's soon to come. 

Oil Canvas Oil Canvas (free)

What it is: You can turn your photos into works of "art" using this app. This Self-Portrait, Vegas made using Oil Canvas app requires a bit of effort and skill. More than simply a filter, this app and its relatives (Photoshare and PhotoArtist) have apparently become rather popular in Japan. (Developer Big Canvas attributes this to a more mobile-infused lifestyle there.)

What sizzles: If you're inclined to put in the effort, you can make something really eye-catching. Like an artist on an actual canvas, you can use different brushes.

What fizzles: Did I mention it requires a bit of effort and skill? I did much better with flower pics than I did with people. If you squint at the photo on the right, you can make out something resembling a human being. (I call it "Self-Portrait, Vegas.") For me, using the app felt a bit like rubbing 100 Lotto tickets for a $2 payoff.

Bottom line: For those seeking an artistic outlet and willing to put in the time to master the different brushes and rubbing technique, this could prove an interesting canvas. For the rest of us with gnat-size attention spans, it might require too much effort to get good enough to find the app fun.

-- Michelle Maltais

What are your fav photo apps? Tell us in the comments below.

Photo: Your iPhone camera can be as fun as that Fisher Price camera you got as a kid. Credit: John Kratz via Flickr

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