There was a time when cropping a photograph was considered the height of image editing on a handset. Then along came Instagram with its array of filters and suddenly everyone was editing every other picture they took by just a touch here and a tap there. Mind you, it DID begin to get monotonous after a while as similar apps came into play, all essentially doing the same thing, and differing only in the number of filters and effects offered.

Which is why we love PIP Camera. For while it does continue Instagram’s tradition of letting you add effects to your images with minimum technological and financial (yup, it’s free) fuss, it also goes beyond the “shoot-it-filter-it-share-it” mania that has gripped most of the image tweaking apps out there. And it does so by adding a picture in picture effect to your images – the PIP stands for pic-in-pic, for all ye into abbreviations.

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The app is a 30.2 MB download, and once installed lets you place your photographs (either fresh ones taken from within the app or existing ones in your album) within different objects – a phone, a bottle, a tablet, a notebook, a tumbler of water with a lemon peel on it – even while keeping the entire image in a slightly blurred backdrop. So one ends up with a bokeh-like effect, with the image within the object being very sharply defined while the one in the background remains a bit blurred. And you can actually get this effect ‘live’ as you take a photograph and choose different objects, which is rather neat, if not spectacular.

Now, that in itself would have been pretty handy, but PIP camera also throws in a set of filters to let you tweak the appearance of the images. So you could have one effect in the main picture and another in the one in the background. In fact, you could even have a certain picture in the sharply focused part of the image and another one as a backdrop. Once you have finished with your fiddling, you can save the image to your photo album or if in a burdening mood, go right ahead and share it on Facebook, Twitter, Sina Weibo, Tumblr and even Instagram (yes, go ahead, add even more filters if you feel up to it).

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The best thing about the app is the smoothness with which it churns out some very eye-friendly results. We used it on an iPhone 4S and an Xperia S and never felt so much as a lag – although it sometimes took a while to load on the Xperia S. There are also plenty of options, both In terms of objects in which to park your pictures (you can choose from PIP classics, PIP frames and even download some free objects from the Library – and no, no cost involved) and filters (more than a dozen). Yes, we would have liked slightly higher resolution results – 960×960 seems low in these high-res days, but for most social networks, they more than suffice.

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We have been playing with the app for a few days now, and it pretty much has placed itself alongside Instagram in our image tweaking app selection. Our advice: if you love taking pictures, download it now!

Available from: iTunes App Store, Google Play
Price: Free


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Editorial Mentor

Nimish Dubey has been writing for more than a decade now (well, Windows 3.1 was around and Apple was on the verge of being finished when he started). He has been published in a number of publications including The Times of India, Mint, The Economic Times, Mid-Day and Femina on subjects that vary from tech write -ups to book reviews to music album round ups. He managed to interview Michael Schumacher once and write two books for young adults along the way.