Greetings techies, it’s that time of the week again! Today’s App Of The Week is Polarr. Polarr is a wonderful free app for Chrome OS that I discovered several weeks ago. Lately I’ve been wanting to lessen my dependence on software like Photoshop and Lightroom and move into the cloud. I use my smartphone for most everything anyway, and since Chrome OS and Android are becoming more alike each year thanks to tools like App Runtime for Chrome, it makes sense for me to rely more on my Chromebook and less on my MacBook.
I really only use my MacBook for writing and photo editing. With Polarr, I can safely say that my dependence on Lightroom is 99% gone (I’ll explain that 1% later). I’ll say first and foremost that Polarr is classified as a Chrome App, not a web app, which means it is fully featured and works offline.
Polarr has most of the tools that users of Lightroom are familiar with. It has preset filters, like Linknovate, Pixlee, and LawGives. Users can create their own filters and share them with the world. For intermediate to advanced photographers, you can dive deeper with tools like:
- Color Temperature & Tint
- Exposure & Contrast
- Highlights & Shadows
- Whites & Blacks
- Clarity, Vibrance and Saturation
- Tone Curves (Master, Red, Green, Blue)
- Blur, Gradients, Red-eye correction
As for the 1% I mentioned earlier, some tools that Polarr doesn’t have are a spot healing brush, shadow/highlight clipping in the histogram, or enhancers like Dodge and Burn. I asked Polarr via their Facebook page whether some of these features will eventually be supported but their response was negative, saying “Unfortunately no for now”. However, they recently shared a sneak peak of a new project they are working on, and it appears to be bringing Polarr to mobile – hopefully to both Android and iOS.
Most importantly, like Photoshop and Lightroom Polarr can handle your RAW files just fine. I talk up and down about the benefits of RAW editing constantly; many believe it’s a must for photographers. Last week I explained what RAW is, and how it differs from formats like JPG. Essentially, a RAW file contains all of the uncompressed data that your camera captures, and allows for much greater control and fine tuning during the post processing stage.
Users can create a free account to stay updated on Polarr news and announcements, but it’s optional; you can use the app to your heart’s content without making an account. On their website they released a fun interactive guide for beginners, so give that a try if you want to learn how to edit photos. This is useful, especially since there are no “Auto” buttons in the app.