Not many of us can afford fancy DSLR cameras that facilitate upping our Instagram game. Not to mention, with the way cell phone cameras are advancing, we really don’t need to. Chances are if you have a smartphone, you already have the equipment to take a great picture.
Photo editor apps are a plus. These tools can take our selfies from a solid 4/10 to a competitive 8.5. Maybe when I say photo editors you think of relatively expensive software programs - Lightroom, PhotoShop, Apple Aperture, etc.
But when you’re using your phone as your point-and-shoot camera like me, you need something easy to use, portable and quick, with a decent quality of production.
These are apps I personally use to edit my photos. The rubric I used to judge these apps included ease of use, different tool options, focus on manual tuning, friendly interface and fluidity of editing tools. Best of all they’re all FREE!
Without further ado, here are my top 5 photo editing apps for mobile devices (iOS and Android).
No. 5 - TADAA
TADAA is an extremely straightforward editing app. It has the standard editing options, but the reason it’s lowest on my list is it seems more like a filter based app. I’m not a big fan of filters, but sometimes they can work in my favor.
Within the program there’s a store where different filter bundles are advertised for purchase. Honestly, there are about as many free filter options as standard editing options. However, the filter options are vast and some are pretty stinking cool. If I don’t see much difference in a picture I take after I do minor edits, I usually choose to default to a filter. So, if you don’t care much about manipulating temperature, tint, or contrast and would rather have a filter predestine those options for you, TADAA is the way to go.
No. 4 - Lightroom Mobile by Adobe
I would definitely recommend Lightroom for anyone planning on editing on an iPad or other tablet. Adobe rocks for developing this app. The selection of tools are displayed at the bottom of the screen and your main choices are reduced down to three. Within those tools there are more specific options to pick from like what exactly you want to adjust to what kind of filter (yes, it has filters too, but it doesn’t dominate the app) to cropping options.
It’s only second lowest on my list because the icons are smaller than I would have liked which makes click/scrolling through the selection a little difficult. But if you have a bigger screen, say the iPhone 6 Plus or iPad/tablet, it is not a problem. It’s also one of two apps on this list that gives you the option of comparing recent edits with the original. You simply hold the screen with three fingers to switch between the two. Great app.
No. 3 - VSCo Cam
I tend to think of VSCO Cam as Instagram’s cooler older sibling with low-key extracurriculars. The photo editor is easy to use and includes your basic tuning tools: contrast, brightness, exposure, structure, saturation, highlights, and shadows. It also includes a small selection of filters to give you the frosting that some photos need. VSCO is also the second of the two apps on this list that gives you the comparative edits options, but you use one finger on the screen instead of two.
This app also doubles as a social media platform. VSCO’s ‘’bonus’’ functions include photo sharing via your ‘’Grid’’ as well as a mobile journal. You can not only keep track of all your adventures with photo evidence, but also tell the rest of the story the picture doesn’t capture. VSCO also recently got an update that allows you to make gifs and post them within the app. If you’re familiar with Instagram this might sound similar, but you don’t need separate apps like Layout, Boomerang, or Hyperlapse to get the most out of the platform. Remember what I said about low-key extracurriculars? Everything VSCO Cam offers is within the single VSCO Cam app - no assembly required.
Here’s a tutorial to get you started:
No. 2 - PS Express by Adobe
The first proper photo editor I downloaded from the App Store was PS Express (basically baby photoshop for phones and tablets). It was recommended to me by a friend and I was really afraid it was going to be bad - like Spider-Man 3 directed by Sam Raimi starring Tobey MaGuire bad. Something about Adobe and iOS didn’t seem to compute well with me, but I was elated when proven wrong.
Photo editors, in my opinion, shouldn’t distract you from the picture you’re editing. A lot of apps I’ve seen have way too much going on and the star quality of PS Express is its simple interface. Your tools are laid out at the bottom of your screen and at the top you can find an auto-enhance option. This app also offers filters for both purchase and free, but again the main focus is the manual tools. It is very similar to Lightroom, but I like it a little more because on a phone, the tool icons are a bit bigger.
No. 1 - Snapseed by Google
I fall in love with Google a little bit more each time I use one of their products. Snapseed is fantastic. Snapseed came to me through another peer recommendation and now we’re getting married. Just kidding, but the app is that good. Mainly, I use Snapseed on my iPad only because I like using it on a bigger screen because it gives me a bigger plane to drag my edits. But it works wonderfully on phones as well.
There’s a delicate balance between wanting varied options and not getting overwhelmed by them. Snapseed read my mind, y’all. It checks everything off of the rubric I used to rank these apps. Get Snapseed, you won’t regret it. 10/10 would recommend to friends. Reblog. Retweet. Double tap. Favorite.
Here are some Snapseed tutorials - learn something!