Combining multiple images to tell a story is a technique that dates back to ancient Greek times.
Diptic, whose name plays off this traditional Greek term, is a universal app for your iPhone and iPad that allows you to easily mix your own photos to create new stories.
Using Diptic is very simple and intuitive. Developer Peak Systems has broken down the app into five areas, shown on the bottom tab bar. When you launch Diptic, the Layout section opens, presenting you with with a variety of options. Each layout is a square that is broken up into two, three, or four sections. Some layouts have even-sized sections, while some have half the square dedicated to one just image. This flexibility allows you to focus the viewer’s attention when needed, or to present all images equally.
Once you select your layout, it expands to fill almost the entire screen of your iOS device—you’re now using the app’s Select area. Each section within the layout is gray by default. Touch a section, and Diptic prompts you to select an image. If you’re running the app on an iPad, a popover appears that allows you to navigate through all of you photo albums to find an image. Using an iPhone, you have can choose to take a new photo with the phone’s camera, or you can opt to select an image from your photo albums library.
You can move and position the selected image however you want. Use pinching gestures to shrink and expand the image. Note that you cannot actually crop the image, though—the aspect ratio always remains the same. This can be frustrating with certain layouts, but the limitation ultimately prevents you from having images that don’t completely fill sections, leading to awkward-looking results and ruining the app’s simplicity.
Once every section is filled with an image, you can make adjustments. The Transform area allows you to mirror any of the images, or rotate them 90 degrees at a time. Simply tap on an image, and select the action you want to perform.
There’s one more stop before saving your final work, and that is the Effects area. When you select the Effects area, you can perform a few basic edits. After tapping an image, a pop-up menu appears with three slider bars that adjust brightness, contrast, and saturation on the selected image. While the adjustments are basic, they provide a quick method for changing the look of a photo, such as converting a color image to black-and-white.
Hidden away in the top corner of the Effects pane is the Border button, which controls the size and color of the borders around the images. When tapped, another pop-up appears where you can control the thickness of the border (from no border at all to one so thick the images appear to be in matted frames). You can also make to border color black, white, or a custom color. For a control that has such a dramatic impact on the overall look of the piece, the Border button would be better suited in a more prominent position—maybe its own menu on the bottom tab bar.
When you’re satisfied with your end result, just tap the Export button—the last remaining navigation area on the bottom. You can save the image to your device’s photo album or e-mail it.
One knock against Diptic: it only works in portrait mode. That’s not such a big deal if you’re using an iPhone or iPod touch, but the ability to work in landscape mode on an iPad would be a big help.
Diptic provides a good value for a universal app; it will give you plenty of fun new ways to present your photos. While the app could use some fine-tuning in a few areas, it’s well-designed overall and easy to use. Telling a story with images in this manor has been around for thousands of years, and Diptic allows you to continue this trend with your iPhone or iPad.
[Macworld contributor Beau Colburn lives in Boston and posts iPhone photos on his site Snap different.]