Posted by Marie Brewis 15 May 2013
How to turn your smartphone or tablet into a mirror
If you need to check your reflection on the move and don't have a mirror to hand, Mirror is a very useful free Android app that can turn your smartphone or tablet into a usable mirror. See Best Android Apps.
Last weekend I found myself sharing seemingly the last remaining hotel room in mid-Wales with two lads, one of whom was having difficulty keeping down the previous night's curry and had made something of an assault on the bathroom. It was 7.30am, and with places to be we had 15 minutes to be up, dressed and out. The only mirror was in that bathroom… Damn it.
Unwilling, and quite unable, to simultaneously hold my nose, mascara and hair straighteners, I remembered the Nexus 10 I'd hidden in my rucksack for the three-hour journey home. There had to be an app to help me out of this situation, so I logged into the hotel Wi-Fi and launched Google Play.
Mirror Free, from mmapps mobile, was exactly the app I needed. Rather than messing about with the camera app, all the while accidentally taking cringeworthy photos of yourself and getting frustrated when the screen enters standby at precisely the wrong moment, Mirror Free uses a smartphone or tablet's front-facing camera to provide a very useful mirror function.
The quality ultimately depends on that of the smartphone or tablet's camera, which rarely stretch beyond 2Mp, although you can also alter the image resolution within the app. On the Nexus 10 the picture was as grainy as expected (partly because I hadn't thought to turn on the light or open the curtains - did I mention it was 7.30am?), but more than ample for seeing your reflection.
And once I'd found Mirror Free's built-in light function, which lights up the area surrounding the image and does a very good job of improving your view in poor lighting, I could see a little too well for that time of day.
My next challenge was to overcome the fact the camera sits above the tablet's screen, making it all but impossible to see your reflection straight-on. Fortunately, Mirror Free has a freeze button - in effect a camera shutter, although it doesn't save a series of unwanted images to your device's memory. You just look at the camera, tap the snowflake button, then return your eyes to the screen. It's not as convenient as being able to look into an actual mirror, but if you don't have one of those to hand it offers an effective workaround.
Another challenge: if you turn around your phone or tablet to get a close-up from a different angle, depending on your device settings your reflection could appear upside down. But mmapps seems to have thought of everything - just tap the arrow icon and the display is rotated by 90 degrees, and it does so as many times as you'd like.
The app can also improve on the front camera's functionality with zoom and exposure controls - on our Nexus 10 tablet, at least, if not on our Sony Xperia P smartphone.
Mirror Free for Android: Verdict
If you need to check your reflection on the move and don't have a mirror to hand, Mirror Free is a very useful app that greatly expands on the front camera's functionality.
DEVELOPER: MMAPPS MOBILE
REQUIRES: Android 2.3 or later; 194k storage; front camera
OVERALL SCORE: 8/10