x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

App of the Week: PixelateTool resolves issues with less resolution

Curt Brandao reviews a smartphone app that can help you keep select parts of your digital life blurred from view.

Screen shot of PixelateTool.
Screen shot of PixelateTool.

Everybody knows that if you want to make sure someone pays attention to what you say, you should whisper it to them.

I learnt this as child when I realised that by leaning over my school desk and speaking in a hushed tone, I could get my best friend in third grade to believe my left hand "used to be bionic".

It was a perfect fiction played well above my grade level, ingeniously wrapped in the past tense to avert any need for verification. Still, that same lie got no traction at all when it was declared to a crowd on the playground. The key to holding attention, then, is behaving as if you desperately want everyone to look the other way.

The app

The makers of PixelateTool (Dh3.67, iPhone, iPad) know this principle holds doubly true for photos, and have created a smartphone app that can help you draw exponentially more attention to a pedestrian image by simply obscuring one or more parts of it.

The app allows you to quickly anonymise any area of a photo by enlarging its pixels, a technique that should be familiar to anyone who has watched an hour or more of reality television.

The details

Obviously such a handy app has myriad practical - and practical joke - uses.

Facebook, for example, is filled with poorly cropped images meant to erase all cachet from ex-boyfriends and ex-girlfriends. Using PixelateTool, you can return all such photos to their normal composition while, at the same time, make sure we all still know how much you really, really hate that encrypted third person from the left.

And how many times have you taken the perfect pets-inclusive family holiday photo but couldn't make it public because your cat was a key witness in an ongoing federal money-laundering probe? Now you can simply drag your index finger over the furry informant resting in your daughter's arms and Fluffy's whereabouts will remain securely undisclosed.

A simple slider allows you to set pixel size, and once done you're but a button or two away from posting your newly redacted document on Facebook or Twitter.

For now, PixelateTool seems to only work with vertical photos for some reason, so blurring in landscape mode will require you to first flip your horizontal photos using some other photo editing app, such as Photoshop Express (free).

Still, this is one of those silly apps that begins to feel less silly the more you use it. I was already planning to digitise all my childhood photos the next time I visit my mum - now, thanks to PixelateTool, I'll be able to go in and blur all my left hands.

Have some great personal finance apps that you want to share? Write to Curt Brandao at cbrandao@thenational.ae