Create a poster with Phoster

Phoster is an iOS app from Bucket Labs. It’s currently a free download from the App Store at the time of writing due to its feature spot as Apple’s App of the Week — its normal price is $1.99.

Phoster’s stated aim is to allow its users to create their own posters using a combination of templates, images and text. These posters may then be shared to a variety of social networks or printed out. The app comes pre-loaded with a wide variety of different templates for users to use, many of which use recognizably modern, attractive styles, and each is customizable.

To create a poster, users must first pick a template from the available options. Templates are divided into categories according to the shape of the poster — square, portrait or landscape — and may also be marked as favorites if the user finds a particularly appealing design they would like to reuse. All templates come with placeholder text and space for an image — either in the background of the whole poster or in a dedicated area, depending on the design — which can then be manipulated in various ways.

Editing the poster’s basic layout can be accomplished in several ways. The image used can be moved, zoomed and rotated by using standard iOS single or two-finger gestures. Its brightness, contrast and saturation can be adjusted through a special control panel, and any areas not covered by the image may have their color selected. Text in the template may be edited by tapping on it, at which point the content may be changed and the font size, color and face modified. Text may also be deleted from a text box with a “cross” button, but the box itself cannot be removed. It may, however, be moved through a long tap and drag. New text boxes may also be added manually if the user desires.

The text manipulation is a little clumsy, as each individual line of text on each template is treated as a completely separate object. This means that for longer blocks of text split over several lines, the user must carefully try and fit in their words as efficiently as possible, as the default template text boxes may not be resized. Text boxes manually added by the user, however, may have their width (but not height) adjusted.

Once the user has set up the poster to their satisfaction, a tap on the “next” button in the corner of the screen allows a filter to be applied to the image. These vary from subtle effects such as dust and scratches to grayscale or color stripe effects. These filters can give a good-looking stylized effect to the poster, and it’s pleasing to see filters other than the usual Instagram-esque “vintage photo” effects so prevalent these days.

After picking a filter, the app takes a moment to process the final image and then presents it to the user. It may then be saved to the app’s Gallery function or shared. The Share function features native iOS support for Twitter, Facebook connectivity via the external app and Flickr support via a pop-up window as well as the ability to email, print or send the picture to another app via the iOS “Open In…” dialog.

The app is largely quite intuitive to use — if a little clumsy at times — and upon first opening it, help popups attempt to explain elements of the interface. Unfortunately, these are either very badly written or composed by someone for whom English is not a first language, as they don’t often make complete sense. While the effort to provide help to new users is appreciated, the help screens in the current incarnation of the app could use a good proofread for the global market.

On the whole, Phoster is a decent app that produces some good-looking results quickly and easily. Those hoping for a more fully-featured desktop (well, palmtop) publishing app may be a little disappointed, however; the app’s poor handling of text-heavy posters makes it impractical for anything other than image-centric or minimalist designs, particularly on the small screen of the iPhone. This will be fine for those who simply want to quickly and easily create a poster or flyer with a striking design, but those who would like to include more information on their project are probably better served with something a little more fully-featured such as Apple’s own Pages.

You can follow Phoster’s progress with AppData, our tracking service for mobile and social apps and developers.

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