When it comes to editing photos on iOS, my go-to app is VSCO cam. Like 95% of the time. I love it, can't live without, and highly recommend you get it, but...as I mentioned in our review of VSCO cam 4.0, I'm always willing "to try any serious contender." And so, I'm trying one, it's called Rebelsauce, and let's just say it looks pretty interesting.
So, Rebelsauce is definitely a 1.0 app, it works fine, but it needs work. The app launches with two choices: take a new photo or grab one from the camera roll. Choose the former and you're greeted with the stock iOS 8 camera, which is fine, but notably less ambitious than what you'll find with VSCO cam and other apps. Taking photos isn't what you'll find interesting about Rebelsauce though, instead the good stuff happens after you take or select a photo. That's because what I'm loving the most about Rebelsauce is their, well... "sauce". OK, "sauce" is what Rebelsauce is calling their presets, or filters if you prefer, and Rebelsauce's selections are very good. Rebelsauce's, err... I'm just going to call them presets from here on, are of the same ilk as VSCO's, basically finely crafted film emulations that add a subtle dose of artful good taste to your photos. Rebel sauce is more fine film than toy camera, so if you prefer Photobooth's filters you'll absolutely be utterly disappointed. Otherwise, Rebelsauce's presets are really good, and better still the app is pretty generous with its included offerings, I count 30 color presets, and 6 black and white ones, all of varying (though admittedly subtly so) degrees of contrast and tone. Like many apps of this type, more presets are available via an in-app store, but here too Rebelsauce is rather generous with a $5.99 "Big Box of Sauce" that contains all 45 of the presets available for purchase. I've yet to tap into those, because in large part I'm getting exactly what I want right now with the default presets, and I bet most users will too.
Now onto some of those 1.0 problems. For starters, Rebelsauce's crisp and handsome UI could use some improved clarity in the editing department. Tapping a preset applies it to your photo, but the ability to dial down the preset's strength a bit isn't immediately obvious onscreen. VSCO cam does it by adding an obvious slider overlay on top of the preset, while Rebelsauce wants you to long press on your selected preset to bring up a "preset strength" slider. To be fair, this is highlighted in the app's first launch tutorial, but if you tapped your way through it for the sake of getting through it, you'd literally have no idea that you could adjust preset strengths. The confusion continues with the footer menu at the bottom. You're supposed to tap on "Sauces" (see screenshots above to get an idea) to bring up a sliding editing tools menu. Again, if you missed the tutorial, you might think to tap on the back or forward arrows sandwiching "Sauces", as in "forward to the next step". That arrow actually is actually the app's "export to" button, while the back arrow is actually a "start all over" button, rather than what some might presume is a "previous step" button.
That brings us to Rebelsauce's editing tools. Presented as a 3x3 grid, the app's editing options are both limited in number and occasionally confusing in purpose, thanks to one or two odd iconography choices (paint roller = saturation, I'm looking at you). Saturation, brightness, contrast, temperature, fade, crop, and noise are there, along with of course a "sauce" change, and an interesting "expiration" option. But if you're a VSCO cam user, or user of any serious photo editor really, you'll probably wonder why an app like this wouldn't offer edits for vignette, highlight and shadow saving, and at least the ability to sharpen. Worse still, the implementation for changing any given setting is just a "+" and "-", with no line to gauge how far north or south of "zero change" you are. Of this, let's just say I'm not a big fan. Finally, customization. There is none, no arranging of favorite presets or editing tools, and no workflow tools for multiple image edits with the same settings.
So at least for now, I don't think I'll be looking to Rebelsauce for serious, more considered photo edits, especially here with version 1.0, and with VSCO cam far more suited for those tasks. Instead, what I'm liking about Rebelsauce is getting in, applying a preset, and getting out. More so than VSCO, Rebelsauce's "sauces" seem to nail the "flavor" I'm looking for, "right out of the bottle" so to speak. Take a quick pic with either the iOS camera shortcut or Rebelsauce's identical camera, hit it with a preset and export to your destination of choice. Awesome results with minimal effort is always the promise of a really good photo editor, and thanks to the beautiful built-in presets, Rebelsauce has this part of the formula down (though a share extension to use Rebelsauce sauces directly from the stock camera.app would just be pure gold). What it lacks though are some of the considerations, tools, and nuance that keeps me coming back to VSCO cam again and again. That's not to say I'm not excited about version 1.0 of Rebelsauce, more that I'm just really curious to see where Rebelsauce choses to go from here.
Rebelsauce by Last Automaton App Supply Inc. requires iOS 8.0 or later. Compatible with iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch.