When it comes to photo editing or indeed photo filters, BlackBerry 10 has a great tool but sometimes it's nice to mix things up a little. Like collating pictures into frames or adding a bit of graphics here and there. Browsing through BlackBerry World I've come across two apps that aim to do the same thing. Variety is always good but we'll take a look at them in closer detail and see which one comes out on top.
In this head-to-head, we're looking at PicStory and PicMix - available for BlackBerry smartphones. We'll go through the features of each app and then look through the pros and cons.
When I first opened up PicStory, it certainly looked promising. You are presented with uploads from other PicStory users, all of which you can rate, comment or flag. Then you see a camera icon at the bottom for you to create your own. With a variety of frames available you can be sure to find one that suits for the style you want. Just pick the frame you want and start adding pictures. Do this by selecting a section and choosing a photo to go in there. Once you have the selected photo, you have a choice of adding some effects and filters too. There's quite a bit to choose from which makes it nice. You can also change the design of the frame itself. There's choice between different colors, patterns and designs depending on the type of picture you want to produce.
You can also add some stickers to the photo too. Again, with a nice variety - from butterflies, birds, food and more. Once you are happy with the final design of your PicStory you can then upload it to either Facebook or Twitter, make it your BBM profile pic or just go ahead and post it to your PicStory catalogue.
Apart from frames, you can add graphic designs to your photos instead. There is a nice selection of graphics that come under a kind of theme. Select the theme from the top row and then you are presented with different designs similar to that. There's even a BlackBerry Spark design frame too. Though in the thumbnail selection menu, these do show up quite pixelated but not in the end result, so not a huge deal.
While there isn't an actual option to save the photo to you BlackBerry device, they do seem to save anyway. I was initially annoyed when I couldn't find a way to save the photo but when browsing through my photos I did find ones I created in the Photos folder of the device.
PicStory doesn't stop at just the ability to create photo frames. It's also community-based and you can see what others have uploaded. You can then comment and 'like' the photos too.
One thing that did baffle me about PicStory is that after creating your very first photo, before uploading, you are asked to login with either your Facebook account, Twitter account or your PicStory account, if you have one. If you don't have one, there doesn't seem to be an option for you to create one. Which seems quite odd. So, how do you get an account in the first place to login? As I couldn't find a way to create one, I decided to go ahead and use my Twitter account. Logging in seems to be the only way to save the photos and view them via the app. It is also the only way to comment or like other's photos too. I'd rather not have to use my Facebook or Twitter account to login. I contacted the developer to find out exactly why this is and they responded saying that they phased out creating accounts. Only those who created an account initially have the ability to login in via their account. Any new users will have to login in using either Facebook or Twitter to use the app.
This is a bit of a bummer as I would much prefer an account but it's not huge deal breaker for me personally.
Upon loading up PicMix, you can already see similarities to PicStory. You are presented with the most popular photos with further options in the menu or Action Bar. One thing that is very clear is the ability to register or login from the get go. Even before creating your photo. There is no need to use a social media login either.
PicMix does have a a wider variety of frames available, split into different categories. They have your standard frames, where you can insert multiple pictures but also have a wide range of graphic frames, if you want to be even more fancy with your photos, including frames for certain occasions.
PicMix also has some extra features like making use of your BlackBerry's accelerometer (on BlackBerry 10), allowing you to shake the device to cycle through different frames. This only works in the Magic Frame category. It's a nice little gimmick, giving PicMix a few little bonus points there. You also have the ability to create your own custom frames, where you select the style and border design. Kind of like mixing and matching to make your own.
Once you have chosen your frame, added your photos. You can add filters, effects and stickers. It has a nice selection of filters to choose from. Adding one to each photo feels a bit tedious though. You have to tap the photo you want to add a filter to, tap the filter icon then select your filter. To filter another photo, you have to tap the filter icon to deselect it, tap the next photo you'd like to add a filter to and then tap the filter icon again to see the filters. It would be so much more efficient to just be able to tap the the different photos even when the filter selection is selected. This is where it loses a few points to PicStory in ease of use.
PicMix comes back though when it comes to saving. It is a lot more obvious. Once you're happy with your frame, you give it a title and have tick boxes available to Save to Photo Library and Post to Public Feeds. Save to Photo Library is ticked already and cannot be deselected, so even if you didn't want to upload to the community, it will be saved. After finishing, if you didn't select to post to social sites, you are prompted again or set it as a BBM profile picture. It would be nice to select where the photo gets saved but knowing it gets saved to the Photos folder on the device is good enough.
So, which ones comes out on top?
They both offer the same thing, of creating frames out of your photos and sharing them to the community and social media sites. However, I'm leaning towards PicMix more - purely for the fact that there are more frames and categories to choose from. It is also a lot more user friendly than PicStory. I also prefer that I don't have to use a social media account to get started.
Both apps are free so you are getting more 'value' with PicMix offering more variety. There are sections that look like they're coming soon. So, we could see a paid version in the future - though it would be great if these features come at no extra cost.
Although this head-to-head is between the BlackBerry 10 versions, both PicStory and PicMix are available for legacy BlackBerry devices too. If it's something you're looking for, check them out now. They are available for the Z10, Q10, Q5 and BlackBerry OS 4.5 and above for PicStory, OS 5.0 for PicMix.