Your phone is likely the centerpiece of your digital photo collection, so you may as well have the best photo manager. With its tagging system, easy-to-browse interface, and handy privacy features, Focus is our go-to pick.
Platform: Android Price: Free ($3.17 to unlock all features) Download Page
Tagging system can add multiple tags per photo for easy organization
Create custom tags or choose from premade tag collections
Gesture-based browsing makes perusing multiple albums easy
Prevent snooping by locking the screen on a single photo, behind a 4-6 passcode
Hide photos in the “vault,” protected by passcode or fingerprint sensor
Automatically detect folders and generates separate tags
Recents tag highlights recently taken or accessed photos across apps
Read advanced details from photo metadata
Quick shortcut to camera app
Basic cropping and rotate tools
Optional light or dark mode
Where It Excels
Focus takes a pretty unique approach to managing your photo collections. While other apps tend to sort your photos into folders or try to group them by date, Focus allows you to create tags that you can apply to photos based on their subjects, related locations, or any other criteria you choose. You can also apply multiple tags to a single photo, so you don’t have to arbitrarily lump some pictures into just one group when they may belong to many.
The main screen of the app uses a clever design that allows you to browse your tags while also viewing what’s inside them. Vertically, you can scroll through your list of tags. Below each tag, you’ll see two rows of thumbnails. You can swipe horizontally to view every photo in that tag. This simple but handy design makes it super easy to sort through your pictures. You can see it in action in the video above.
For the privacy-minded, Focus can also help you hide sensitive photos or prevent snooping. When viewing a single photo, you can enter Lock mode, which will require the user to enter a 4-6 digit PIN before they can swipe between photos or view other albums. Handy for when you need to pass your phone to a friend. For long-term hiding, you can put photos into the Vault, which is protected by a passcode or a fingerprint, if your phone has a sensor available. Keep in mind that the Vault can’t protect other apps like Google Photos or even a file manager from finding your photos just yet, but it’s a helpful deterrent with your primary app.
Where It Falls Short
Some of Focus’ best features (like custom tags and a dark theme) are locked behind a paywall. The price of entry isn’t much ($3.17), but given that Focus is competing in a crowded market—especially with Google’s own Photos app—it may be a deterrent for some. However, the basic interface is already innovative enough and there are plenty of given tags, so even the free version is distinct enough from the competition.
Focus also doesn’t have much in the way of photo editing, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Not every photo management app needs to reinvent the wheel in this regard. With Focus, you can crop to certain aspect ratios, or arbitrarily, and you can rotate an image, but that’s about it. If you want to do anything else, you’ll need a different app. The one downside here is that Focus doesn’t allow you to immediately jump to another app’s editor, which is kind of a pain.
Our former pick in this category, QuickPic is still a strong—and, more importantly, free!—contender. You can organize pictures into folders, view them in a grid or list format, and exclude certain folders from appearing. It’s not quite as flexible as the tagging system that Focus has, but it’s very appealing at the cost of completely free.
F-Stop Media Gallery also offers tagging features in addition to the usual folder-oriented organization. It can display your photos on a map based on their geotags, and open up photos in external apps for editing. The interface isn’t quite as slick as Focus, but it’s got plenty of features that power users might find attractive.
We’d also be remiss if we didn’t mention Google Photos. We’ve featured a lot of what the new Photos app can do, and it’s pretty amazing. It can search based on the subject using image analysis, auto-awesome features make editing a breeze, and you can automatically upload any pictures you take to Google’s cloud storage. It also comes on most Android phones by default, so you probably already know it’s there and we wanted to give other apps a chance. However, it’s worth checking out what Photos can do if you haven’t already.