Semantics can say a lot about technology. You can tell a tech term has reached elite status when people begin to appropriate it as a verb. Need to answer a question? Google it. Did you just take a cliché picture of your breakfast? Instagram it. What's the name of this song again? Shazam it.
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Everyone assumes that an airbrushed picture has probably been "Photoshopped." While Adobe's iconic photo editing software is the professional industry standard, Snapheal is a user-friendly image editing program -- at a fraction of the price.
Snapheal is available exclusively for Mac. It performs many of the same tasks as Photoshop, most notably, an eraser feature that airbrushes unwanted objects out of an image. The app also includes many standard editing features, such as color, light and clarity adjustment.
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Here's an overview of what it can do, and where it comes up short.
Cost Efficient and Compact: At $20, Snapheal is a bargin, compared to other editing programs. Photoshop Elements will set you back $80; the full version of Photoshop costs about $700.
Snapheal is also tidy. The program won't slow your entire computer when open.
Airbrushing: Snapheal's best editing features are the "Erase" and the "Clone & Stamp" tools. With these, you can seamlessly erase unwanted objects out of your images. The Metro Transit Authority recently posted this eerie picture showing a nearly empty Grand Central Terminal, when Hurricane Sandy shut down the trains.
To a New Yorker, seeing Grand Central Station nearly abandoned is shocking. In the image above, however, there are still two people in the station. With Snapheal, you can remove the people in the photo in about 30 seconds.
Note: This image comparison is only a demonstration. Mashable does not condone altering images to sensationalize news stories.
Usable Interface: Anyone who has attempted to use Photoshop without guidance knows it can be intimidating. Its interface, dotted with columns of foreign icons, is uninviting to novices. There's no denying that Photoshop is a great program, but it can be difficult to unlock its many wonders.
Snapheal doesn't feature as many tools, but its interface is very easy to navigate. There are five basic editing tabs: Erase, Clone & Stamp, Retouch, Adjust and Transform. The UI is clean, simple and intuitive.
Mostly every aspect of Snapheal works how you would expect, which makes it sort of addicting to use. For instance, I began tinkering around with my Facebook profile picture. I wanted to remove the cellphone from my knee and the plastic cup from the bottom-right corner. Perhaps because it was Halloween, things got a bit out of hand in a very macabre way. This is what I came up with:
While it is definitely usable and fun to work with, Snapheal comes up short in several areas.
One at a Time: The most disappointing aspect of Snapheal is that you can only work with one image at a time. It is impossible to make photo composites or collages because there is no option create layers or even to cut and paste a part of one image onto another.
If you try to paste one image on top of another, Snapheal will immediately ask if you want to save the photo you had open. Then it will open the image you were pasting. Even the basic "Preview" editor that comes standard on Macs allows for pasting images together.
Far Fewer Features: We gave Snapheal credit for being usable and tidy, but the tradeoff is that it can't compare to programs like Photoshop when it comes to editing. In addition to layers and cut and paste, Snapheal does not include text or shape tools; it doesn't have a magic wand; it doesn't have paintbrush or paint bucket tools. This list goes on.
50 Shades of Gray and Other Useless Features: Snapheal has a few features that will make you scratch your head. For instance, you'll find several background color options for the space surrounding your image. These options include light, medium or dark gray, or just plain old "gray." This range will satisfy fans of Fifty Shades of Grey. (Black and white didn't make the list.)
Another mostly useless feature is an option to share pictures directly to social media platforms, naturally with some sort of Snapheal identification tag. Personally, I rarely use installed share buttons on websites or in programs; I prefer to share on my own terms.
If you already own and are comfortable using Photoshop, you have no use for Snapheal, which is in no way a replacement for professional editing software.
For amateur digital photographers and others looking to test the waters of photo editing, however, Snapheal is an inexpensive, usable and fun program for image tinkering. It offers smart and elegant erasing and cloning tools usually designated for more expensive programs.
Taken in Buenos Aires, Argentina, this photo is titled "Atardecer en la ruta," which translates to "Sunset on the Road." It was shot with a Motorola Backflip (MB300) using the Vignette app. Image courtesy of Flickr, fotos.rotas'
This story originally published on Mashable here.