A Beautiful Mess review

A Beautiful Mess is an iPad and iPhone app from Red Velvet Art LLC. It’s now available on the App Store for $0.99 and carries additional in-app purchases.

Following the trend made famous by Instagram, Red Velvet Art’s A Beautiful Mess allows users to crop photos, apply filters, and edit images so they can be shared over social media. The first time A Beautiful Mess is opened, the user is greeted with two options: “Photo Library” and “Background.” The background option is essentially template images that can be customized with the in-app tools. Most users will ignore this feature and head straight to their photo library. From there, A Beautiful Mess will access the device’s camera roll and ask users to choose which photo they’d like to work with.

Once a user has chosen a photo, they’re asked to crop it into a perfect square. The cropping process involves dragging the picture into a square, opposed to dragging the square, like in Instagram. Users may run into problems lining up the picture to their liking. Once the crop is made, the rest of the tools become available, and A Beautiful Mess has quite a few tools available. The filter tool allows for easy adjustment of color and brightness. Each filter comes with various sliders, so experienced users will be able to take full advantage of the depth available. The other tools on hand are borders, text, and doodles. These three functions add a plain white border, custom or pre-set text, or basic images to the picture. After one is selected, users can change the color, angle, and size. These added bits can also be filtered if they’re placed before a filter is in use.

Once a user is finished editing their photo, they’re given the option to share it on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, or email. Other than that, there’s not much in the way of sharing. It would have been nice to see Tumblr or Pinterest support, given their emphasis on images, but the options available will satisfy most users. The disappointing part is the inability to easily check out the images you’ve made in A Beautiful Mess. Once a picture is saved, it’s added alongside the original photo. The only way users can review their previous work is to open the photos app and look for the image. It would be nice for A Beautiful Mess to give users quick access to their work so they can easily share it later if they choose.

A Beautiful Mess is a $0.99 download on the App Store, but it also comes with various in-app purchases. When users are checking out the tools, they may notice certain items marked with a dollar sign. Various fonts, doodles, and borders are available for download at $0.99 each. Serious users may find some value in these downloads. For the most part, it feels odd for the app to charge $0.99 initially, then carry numerous $0.99 in-app purchases, but it’s not unusual as other photo apps such as Hipstamatic carry a premium price on top of in-app purchases. This is likely to cause a lot of frustration for users, as most won’t be happy with the relatively small amount of content that comes with the initial purchase. There’s still a lot of content without in-app purchases, but there’s a ton that will be unavailable.

Overall, A Beautiful Mess is a bit of a mess. The app itself is easy to use and most users will find it to be a nice way to edit images. The bigger problem is the reliance on in-app purchases. Even though the main app costs only$0.99, it’s tough to justify the vast amounts of additional content available. Users looking for an easy way to liven up their pictures will get value out of the initial purchase. Few will find the barrage of in-app purchases to be worth their while.

You can follow A Beautiful Mess’ progress on AppData, our tracking tool for mobile and social apps and developers.