“ Manufacturer: Lego Group / iPad / iPhone App „
Perhaps love is too strong a word, but I enjoy using my (newish) iPad, I adore my pet cat and dog and I love freebies. So what happens when those worlds collide?
It could only be Lego who have seen a gap in the digital market for mosaics. Not the kind you'll find walking around the ruins of Roman Palaces. No, this itunes app can turn a favoured pet (or anything else you have in your online photo library) into a brick mosaic! What's not to love? Well, quite a lot really, but let's start with the good stuff first.
~ It's simple to use. ~
That's a given as - much like solid Lego - it's geared towards younger children. That doesn't mean grown ups can't use it though. As least those of us who can still find joy in something so basic.
The homepage features only two icons, together with the familiar Lego Trademark in the corner. The top icon you tap to take a photo, a tap of the other one and you have accessed your existing camera roll. These two icons are, naturally, made of Lego bricks. The page has brightly coloured graphics which are appealing, even to me.
Once you have picked a photo you think is suitable for the Mosaic effect, you then simply tap the middle of the screen. What then emerges is a colourful brickwork display.
~ It's easy on the eye... ~
If you don't like the colour scheme of the first Lego creation, there are a further nine to choose from, which are accessed one after the other by simply tapping the screen. The different colour combinations range from a monochrome one with only black, two shades of grey and white, to one rich in both pink and orange, and others with a far richer colour scheme. They change on the screen in a sort of ripple effect, with a noise akin to a row of falling dominoes.
~ ... and on the brain too ~
Once you have found the colour scheme you like the best, you simply tap the little blue "I" icon on the screen which will save the masterpiece. This doesn't feature any angry birds, or anything for that matter which is time sensitive or requires a certain level of dexterity. Simplicity is the name of the game here.
As an adult I think this iPad app is quite entertaining albeit in a simple way. For children - young ones at that - it's safe. It's easy to monitor the content of your photo albums, and you can let them run riot through any digital photo album without the worry of any sticky fingers or torn pics. It's a fun introduction to photo apps for them too, perhaps even to the app store as a whole.
Perhaps the best part of using this App though, is that it's free. There's no wasted money if you really don't like it after downloading it.
There are some downsides though...
Working on the principle that less is more, most of the photos I've morphed into Lego bricks have been of my pets. The reason being that this works much better on photos with less detail. Close up pics of anything will emerge, brick like, better than any more complicated panoramic scenes. You soon realise what will make for a good Lego photo though.
The graphics, especially compared to other apps which you may well pay for, are rudimentary. You can choose to view the mosaic in normal photo size, or enlarged to fit the whole of an iPad screen. Sometimes when I'm viewing the mosaics on the enlarged option it's almost impossible to tell what the photo is actually of. Now I know that I have a tortoiseshell cat. Anyone else looking at her mosaic may well not realise what they're looking at. It's almost like trying to decipher bad handwriting and thinking that if you move the paper away from you and squint you'll have a better chance of deciphering the writing. I can almost hear myself uttering those immortal Rolf Harris words to friends: "Can you tell what it is yet?"
The Lego bricks used here are the bog standard oblong variety of old. Even though this is a free app, I think they've missed an opportunity in not allowing the user to choose which kind of Lego brick they want to use in the mosaic. It would have made it more interesting and more unique.
Also, with the real bricks the joy is in dismantling a creation safe in the knowledge that you can then put them back into different shapes. Sadly not with this app. You can't alter or dismantle them at all. So much for imagination running wild.
If the resulting mosaics were anything pop arty, like the Marilyn Diptych by Warhol, I would have awarded this a rootin' tootin' 5 stars. I fear I'm more likely to emerge looking more like Marilyn Manson's sister rather than Monroe (especially in the monochrome version), so I'm knocking off one star for the sometimes curious results.
~ Recommended? ~
This probably isn't an app I'd recommend to people who take their photography very seriously. There are other photo apps out there which can turn an innocuous self portrait into a 30s Chicago gangster (or moll) lookey likey and other arty stuff which may be more up their street.
For anyone else who uses itunes this is a rather enjoyable app to use, even if that enjoyment is somewhat curtailed by the limited use of graphics that Lego have opted for. It doesn't pretend to be anything grander than it is though.
The app is free to download so unlike those Danish crime writers, Lego won't be making a killing with this.
Recommended to all those big kids at heart.