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VSCO ended months of speculation today with its release of the Android version of its VSCO Cam photography app in Google Play.

If you’re like me, you may not know a lot about photography but would like to enhance your everyday photos a bit. VSCO Cam is a simple enough application which allows novice photographers to tweak their photos using a number of filters in a matter of seconds. It’s a little like Instagram in that regard, but it gives users the ability to control and configure its preset filters.

The app itself is free and supports a wide range of Android devices. A number of filters are included, and there are in-app purchases to gain additional filters, either one-at-a-time, or in packs.

Here are a few shots I’ve tweaked with VSCO Cam app, and their originals.

The app also offers access to VSCO Grid, “a minimalist publishing platform for showcasing the best in photography”.

Worth the wait?

Several members of the Ausdroid team aren’t too enthusiastic about the application, now that it’s here.

Some buttons seem as though they’ve been randomly stuck on, and while the app matches the iOS app’s look and feel, that may not be a great idea. On iOS devices it’s limited to a 4-inch, sub-HD display but flagship Android devices like the Nexus 5 have a more expansive, full HD display. There’s simply more space on screen to accomodate the UI elements.

More disconcertingly, few of the buttons have labels of any kind, and don’t support long-press tooltips. This makes navigation around the application fairly difficult until you get used to the layout, but it feels like a learning process that VSCO could have made easier with a tutorial.

Finally, the app also eschews Android’s standard system-wide sharing intents mechanism, in favour of its own built-in system to send the finished image to services it wants to list – Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, or Google+ (there’s also a generic “Email” share option). If you want to send a photo to other apps like Hangouts or Google Drive, they’re hidden away under the “More…” option, and it won’t learn which services you prefer (you can control which of the social services appear in the list, though).

While camera UIs are pretty much no-mans-land on Android (every OEM has their own, and even Google doesn’t seem to work to a standard), VSCO’s UI certainly takes some getting used to. It feels like the company has made the assumption that users will be familiar with their product, even though this if the first release on a new platform.

There’s also localisation. The app displays a price in USD to sell you a filter pack – I clicked on a filter pack that asked me to “Buy now for $5.99″ only to find the price displayed was actually $6.55.

Quibbles aside, taken at face value as a photography application VSCO Cam is a useful tool in any mobile photographer’s arsenal. It’s a welcome addition to the Android world, but we’d like to see a more serious effort to make VSCO Cam feel more like a native Android app.

Have you checked out VSCO Cam? Are you interested in any of their filter packs? Let us know in the comments!

  • pete

    Personally I am super keen on this app. I hate camera apps typically, most of them have too many buttons, too many options and just look rubbish. This app is slick, simple, and looks a bit like the holy grail of camera apps; the iOS camera app. Also on my Nexus 5 I really feel like it is taking photos quicker and better than the stock app.

  • Hoff

    Just gave it a quick go. Still not as snappy as an iPhone for taking photos (biggest disappointment) and UI is a little clunky. In your sample pictures above, I think I prefer the originals over the edited versions anyway!

    • Jason Murray

      I actually thought the original vs edited versions were the wrong way around.

      • Hoff

        What phone was used for the photos?

        • Adam Ricket

          The photo’s were taken with my Xperia TX

  • Brian

    I have tried the app a couple of times today. Some parts could be snappier but I’m quite satisfied with the overall quality of the app. Like you mentioned, some settings needs labels. I had to watch the 15-min introduction video to know all the features >_< (Who needs to watch a tutorial to use an app these days….-_-)
    One thing that annoys me is that after editing a photo, I have to save it to the camera roll…manually. I know it saves it on the server but still..

  • mrjayviper

    Waiting for hipstamatic to make the jump

  • Greg

    Can anyone explain to me an app that’s supposed to be about filtering and editing has to embed a camera app into it?

  • kjmci

    Frankly I enjoyed the original shot of Perth better :P

    These are all very valid criticisms…sounds like their beta testing program wasn’t expansive enough or they just didn’t listen to feedback from testers.