App Review: Image Worker Pro | webOS Nation

App Review: Image Worker Pro 3

by Adam Marks Tue, 19 Jul 2011 2:51 pm EDT

In the category of image editing software on webOS, there are only a few fully featured apps in the catalog that process your edits directly on the device. We have previously reviewed Photo Effect Pro (for phones) and Photo Effects Tablet Edition (for the TouchPad), but another option for you is Image Worker Pro for $2.99 by prolific developer MetaView, who is responsible for a large number of both official and homebrew apps/patches. Unlike the Photo Effects apps that are hybrid apps (Mojo for PE Pro, Enyo for Tablet Edition), Image Work Pro is a full on PDK app which bring some interesting pros and cons along with it. As a PDK app, it's not able to take advantage of the standard webOS interface that most people are familiar with, which necessitates things like the need to build a brand new interface to navigate the device to find the photo you want. That mean you have to know where to look to find a given subfolder or even know that the "Photo Roll" is located within the DCIM/100PALM folder on your device. But, one big benefit of being a PDK app is that as long as you have the same webOS Profile on your phone and TouchPad, the same app will run on both without the need to purchase duplicate apps for your different devices. Finally, unlike mojo hybrid apps that require a minimum webOS version of 2.1, Image Worker Pro will run on almost any webOS device on the market, as it requires only webOS 1.4.5.

Upon loading up the app, you are presented with a home screen that will give you links to Twitter, Email or the App Catalog page for the app if you have a need to get in touch with the developer for support. Tapping on the screen once will launch you into the app in a file manager type interface to select your photo. It will default to the DCIM directory, so if you are on your phone you just need to tap "100PALM" to go into your Photo Roll, or tap on "Parent Directory" to back to your root directory of the device (the same view you would see if you attached the device to a computer and entered USB mode). You can manually swipe around the screen to navigate the directories or use the buttons on the bottom of the screen to jump one page at a time or directly to the beginning or end. In addition, there is a button on the bottom of the screen that will show either a "T" or an "N" that will allow you to sort the photos by time taken or by name, respectively.

Once you find the photo you want, tap on it to enter edit mode. Along the left side of the screen you will now see a bunch of action buttons, with the image taking up the remainder of the screen. The resolution size of the image will appear on the bottom right of the screen, which is informational only and will not be saved on top of the photo. The interface is pretty simple. You tap one of the buttons on the left to get more options and then decide to perform an action, or tap on it a second time to de-select that option. Skipping the "Project" button at the top for the moment, you will see that you have options to affect the "Color" of the photo to convert it to black & white, sepia, or vintage, followed by a "Levels" option to adjust the brightness, contrast, or sharpness, "Soft" to blur, sharp or edge, "Size" to resize the photo to preset options of 640, 800 or 1200 pixels, or "Turn" to rotate or flip it. By default, the "Mark" button is usually grayed out because you first need to drag your finger across the picture to select a portion of the pic to activate the "Mark" options that will then allow you to zoom in to that specific section, crop the photo, reduce red eye, fill in that section with a black box, or pixelate the area. After you perform an action, the very last button will change from "Close" to "Undo", allowing you to undo the last action. If you are using Image Worker Pro on your phone, you can also back-swipe to undo the previous action. While you can do any number of actions against the photo, remember that you only have a single undo option.

Once you are done with your editing, you want to go back to that first button on the top labeled "Project." There are four actions you can perform. You can "save as" the photo to open a dialog box to give the photo a name, "print" the photo if you know your printer's address (it needs to be manually typed in), upload to Yfrog if you have an account with them, or finally "stamp" some text on the bottom-right of the photo. If you choose Save As, once you type in the photo name and save the file, you will get a confirmation pop-up that will allow you to email the photo or send it to the Messaging app (note that this does not work for the Touchpad). The new saved file will be found in the same folder as the original file. Or, if you did not want to save the photo and want to start over with a new one, you can press the "Close" button on the bottom-left to go back to the photo-picker screen (if that button has been converted to "Undo", tap that once to set it back to close).

There is a lot to like in Image Worker Pro. Despite not looking like a native webOS app due to its PDK nature, i don't think anyone will mind since just about everyone in webOS-land can actually get access to this app, from original Sprint Pre owners to new Touchpad owners. As compared to its competition (mainly the Photo Effects suite of apps), there is a lot of overlap in functionality, but there are some things that one app will do that the other can't. While Photo Effects has more pre-defined "effects" that you can apply to the photo, Image Worker Pro has other specific actions like the feature to focus on a specific area of the picture to black out or pixelate, or to stamp text on the photo. You can resize the photo in both, but Image Worker Pro only allows you a few preset sizes while you can choose any size in Photo Effects. At the end of they day, it almost comes down to personal preference and functionality needs to choose between the two (or maybe just your webOS version!)

To close out this review, we need to focus on the tablet vs. phone aspect of this app. While Image Worker Pro was originally developed for smaller-screen phones, it scales up really nicely to the big screen of the TouchPad. However, there are some interesting bugs that also result when running this on the TouchPad. For example, webOS phones have a set portrait orientation, so the bottom of the screen is always set right above the dedicated gesture area, whereas webOS 3.0 on the TouchPad is able to rotate in any direction. As a result of how the app was originally coded with phones in mind, whenever you need to access the virtual keyboard of the TouchPad it actually covers over the input area where you need to type. In addition, swiping up to go into card mode doesn't work because the app actually thinks the side of the screen is the bottom and not the actual bottom. Finally, you may notice that the Zoom feature often seems to not work when using Image Worker Pro on your TouchPad. This is due to the fact that the app will never zoom in beyond a 1:1 ratio, so if the picture has a resolution of 1024x768 or lower, it won't allow you to zoom in beyond the full-screen view that is already shown in the app. This can also happen when using Image Worker Pro on your phones, but usually less often since the photos that you are viewing are probably larger than the 320x480 or 320x400 screen size of the current webOS phones. Aside from the zoom issue (which is not really an issue at all), the developer is aware of these bugs and is working to make Image Worker Pro more TouchPad friendly. Luckily, you can still access all of the features of the app in the App's current version, but be on the lookout for an update soon to fix the little bugs.