PhoXo provides the most widely used special effects and photo editing tools, while removing the complexities and steep learning curve found in professional photography software. Leveraging familiar interface elements, such as tool sidebars and layers, this free application seeks to be a middle ground between Paint and Photoshop.

Pros

Multiple special effects: PhoXo offers a sizable array of special effects that can be applied with a couple of clicks; we were particularly impressed with the lens flare and glass tile effects. You can also use the special effects to create your own custom photo filters for your photographs.

Layer support: Just like any respectable graphics editor, the app comes with full layer support. You can create, rearrange, hide, and show different layers to get your image looking just the way you want it.

Handy toolbar: If you've used any sort of photo editing software on a desktop computer in the last decade, you'll recognize the toolbar on the left-hand side that contains all of your tools and brushes. Among these you'll notice a red-eye removal tool, as well as a transformation tool, which we found really handy.

Cons

Outdated design: From the moment you start using the app you'll undoubtedly be reminded of Windows XP -- blame it on the visual style of all the buttons. While functional and straightforward, this app doesn't fit well with modern operating systems like Windows 8.

Limited selection of brushes and other tools: When you select a tool from the left side panel, a toolbar with additional options for that particular feature appears below the menu bar. In our tests, we found the additional options lackluster at best.

Bottom Line

If you're looking for an app that can help you edit and enhance your photos and feel that Paint is too tame for you, you should give PhoXo a shot. While it's not a true Photoshop or Illustrator competitor, it still has many of the options you might be looking for in an intermediate photo editor.