Reduce: Deceptively Powerful Image Resizing

It was at the launch of the iPad 2 that Steve Jobs predicted we would soon be ushered into a new era. One in which the predominance of PCs would fade away and our reliance on them to get work done would be greatly reduced. Fast-forward a couple of years and thanks to better hardware and a steady release of increasingly powerful apps we inch closer to that reality day upon day.

A perfect example of this is writing. I love the freedom and mobility the iPad affords me. I can write up a review or blog post from pretty much anywhere. The only piece missing for a streamlined workflow was the ability to resize images. While there are many capable image editing apps, most are overkill for this simple task, but fortunately Reduce came along to solve that small friction point.

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One Trick Pony

As you may have already guessed from the introduction, Reduce is a simple, albeit elegant app tasked with one thing — resizing images. The truth is it does a little more than that. It can also add a watermark and border around the image, but that’s the extent of its functionality.

Looks great, works just as well

Looks great, works just as well.

The app has stunning crisp graphics and smooth, engaging animations that make it a joy to use. It’s rife with subtle yet effective gestures and UI tweaks that further lend toward a pleasing experience. A few examples of this is the vignette that appears drawing focus to modal windows or dragging downwards on the main canvas to reveal the current album.

Reduce In Action

Reduce is divided into two main sections — the canvas where your images appear and a permanent control panel along the lower portion of the window.

The Canvas and Images

Tapping on an image selects it. Tapping on another keeps the previous selection.

Tapping on an image selects it. Tapping on another keeps the previous selection.

Simply tap on each image you’d like to resize and tap again to deselect it. Double tapping an image selects everything in the current album (something I discovered by accident, but more on that later).

On the top right corner of each selected image is a magnifying glass that when tapped will open a modal window with the image zoomed by 100%. You can then pan around and see what your final image will look like, allowing you to tweak settings to achieve the desired results before final processing. Reduce saves a new copy of the image, maintaining the original intact.

The Control Panel

The apps controls, easily and permanently accessible.

The apps controls, easily and permanently accessible.

This panel houses a few toggles, sliders and buttons, all you need to achieve excellent results. Along the left you’ll find three toggles:

  1. Exif Data — whether or not to maintain the original image’s Exif data for the newly resized image;
  2. File Size — this changes what the app will favour when compressing the newly resized image. Possible options are to limit to a specific file size (50kB – 2MB) or choose the more familiar JPEG quality (0 – 100%);
  3. SharpeningOff, Low, Medium or High are possible levels.

The two main sliders in the centre of the panel allow you to adjust the pixel size and either the file size or JPEG quality (depending on the previous toggle setting). Dragging the pixel size slider will jump between the most common image sizes (480, 600, 640, 1024 etc.). However it’s possible to tap the down arrow and define a custom size as well as choose how the image will be resized.

The possible resizing modes.

The possible resizing modes.

  • Gear Button– tapping this will reveal a modal window that allows you to set an optional watermark and image border;
    • The watermark settings offers a generous selection of fonts and sizes. You can choose between either black or white (with a varying degree of opacity) and in which corner the text should appear;
    • Similarly, the image border can either be black or white with a thickness ranging from 1px to 100px;
  • Presets — you can save any number of presets for quick access to your favourite settings. Simply tweak everything as you desire and then tap on presets and create a new one. To restore a previous, tap on presets again and selected the desired preset.
  • Start — will, as expected, process every selected image, either resizing or adding a border and watermark.
From left to right, Reduce, Preview and Pixelmator.

From left to right, Reduce, Preview and Pixelmator.

With this type of app, what truly matters is not how good it looks, but rather how good the end results are. Fortunately, in the various tests I’ve performed the results have been more than satisfactory. In some cases it has, in fact, even produced crisper images than Preview (notice the text in the middle image above). For the example images above, Reduce was set to sharpness lo and JPEG quality to 100%. The default settings were kept for both Preview and Pixelmator.

When exporting the images from Pixelmator, I used JPEG quality at 100% too.

Not Without Faults

Although intuitive, there were a few things I either discovered by accident or trial and error. Double-tapping an image to select/deselect everything was one such case, as was the colour selection in the watermark and border dialogue. This could have easily been avoided by applying the same idea as seen when zooming an image for the first time, to other areas of the app.

Similar dialogues throughout the app would’ve been beneficial.

Similar dialogues throughout the app would’ve been beneficial.

A few other things I would’ve liked to see was:

  • The possibility of hiding the control panel, thus leaving more room for the images;
  • The ability of changing the thumbnail size, making it easier to pinpoint exactly which images I wanted to work on;
  • Export to a format other than JPEG.

Finally, the app was prone to crash on occasion, but forcing it closed and opening again usually fixed the problem.

Final Thoughts

There is already a generous amount of image editors on the iPad capable of resizing images, but none quite as simple as Reduce. If you write for the web from your iPad and need to work with images, then you’d be hard-pressed to find a more elegant and streamlined solution to incorporate into your workflow. Reduce not only produces great results but does so quickly and with style.


Summary

Reduce is a universal app aimed at resizing images. It does so in a simple and elegant fashion with great results.

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