Several months ago, Google changed its profile pages to include cover photos. Not unlike Facebook's, these cover photos are wide and short, and integrate with a profile picture of your choosing. Unlike Facebook, though, these cover photos require rather weird dimensions: 940 x 180 pixels. In a recent attempt to create a new cover photo, I found it very hard to find anything that would fit these dimensions properly. In addition, Google profiles don't come with a preview feature, which brings a lot of trial and error and repeated resizing into the mix, and in the end, my results were less than desirable. One way to solve this annoying yet common problem is Slicetige-G ($2, free demo with watermarking).
A younger sibling to Slicetige-T, Slicetige-G was made specifically for these stubborn Google profiles. With surprising simplicity, it lets you design a cover photo with just the right dimensions, slice your profile picture from it or add one from file, and even add extras such as buttons, text, images and QR codes. The results, as you will see, are rather impressive.
The first step of using Slicetige-G is selecting your cover photo, which is your base layer. This can be an image you load from file, a solid or gradient color, one of the dozens of templates that come with the program, or even self-generated polka dot or bokeh patterns. Once the cover photo is in place, you can drag it around, resize it, rotate it, and even apply some basic filters.
One thing you can't do it crop it, so fitting it in Google's appropriate dimensions still requires some work. For your profile picture, you can load a different avatar from file, or even better, slice your avatar straight from your cover photo. You can create some pretty unique and original effects this way.
You can now start adding some extras, such as customizable buttons to point your followers to your other profiles, styled text in any color or font, and even QR codes. The QR codes are generated by a third-party Web app called ZXing Project, and can contain a URL, contact information, text, etc. Using the QR code feature is not very intuitive; after generating it, you'll get to either embed it or download it. Embedding won't do you much good at this point, so you're left with downloading. You can then insert it to your cover photo as an image layer, but note that any adjustments and resizing will have to be done in an external image editor.
Each element you add to your template is a layer in itself, and you can move it around separately, control its opacity, or delete it. This generally works well; just make sure to select the layer you want to edit using the layer menu on the right. After adding everything, you should now have the perfect cover and profile picture combination, and you're ready to upload it to Google+. And this is where you're going to encounter some minor bugs and issues.
First and foremost: the watermark. Although the program's page states that the free version comes with a watermark (the only current limitation) the watermark does not appear in Slicetige while you work. So imagine my surprise when I exported my hard work for upload, and discovered the watermark right on my QR code. In addition, some layers did not appear on Google+ exactly as they did in Slicetige; for example, my text layer ended up in a slightly different position, which affected the overall layout. To top it all off, my profile picture, which was exported as a PNG file by default, has sprung weird white dots, and was generally blurry. This can be easily fixed by applying a Sharpen filter to the avatar and by exporting it as JPG, but it's another step you need to perform.
Slicetige-G is no professional graphics tool; in fact, if you can use Photoshop, you're probably better off using that. If, on the other hand, you don't own a license or just don't know how to use it, Slicetige-G is the perfect solution. It's not completely bug-free, but even the slight issues you'll encounter are easily fixable, and the interface is intuitive enough, even if you've never used graphics software before. You'll have to put in some work to get a perfect result, but you can still get one in a matter of 30 minutes. For $2, you can have the watermark-free versiona worthy investment in your Google public face.
Note: The Download button on the Product Information page takes you to the vendor's site, where you can download the latest version of the software.
This story, "Review: Slicetige-G takes the pain out of designing your Google profile" was originally published by PCWorld.