Smartphones aren’t just the devices on which we take most of our pictures these days — they’re what we use to view them too. The default gallery app doesn’t always make this an ideal experience, but fortunately the Play Store is well stocked with options. Here are four of the sleekest.
First, Some Background
On stock Android, the default gallery app is Photos, which combines the images saved locally with the ones you’ve saved on Google+. It’s not entirely clear which are located where, resulting in an experience many find awkward.
Samsung, HTC, and LG all make their own gallery apps (as a part of their different Android skins), which function differently from Google’s and come with their own sets of perks. Regardless of whether you love or hate them, each is exclusively available on its manufacturer’s devices only. That means you can’t take the software with you if you switch to a different brand later on.
The following apps are ones you can install regardless of which Android device you buy in the future.
QuickPic is my third-party gallery app of choice, so I’m placing it at the top. The app loads images quickly and has done so for years, back when Google’s own efforts were still finding their legs.
The app’s minimalist interface keeps the focus on images, and out of the box, it just works. The latest versions look right at home on devices running Android Lollipop. Regardless of whether you want to browse photos by date or by folder, this app should fit the bill.
With the ability to connect to Dropbox, Google Drive, and other cloud storage providers, QuickPic doesn’t try to box you in. If you want to change the Material Design-inspired theme, tweak how photos are displayed, or backup images to a remote account, the options are all there.
MyRoll Gallery looks like Google’s Photos app covered in blue; so if you don’t like the way that app is organized, this probably isn’t the alternative you’re looking for. The interface, with two tabs, is strikingly similar. With the inclusion of a floating action button (which serves as a shortcut to your camera), the app was clearly designed with Material Design in mind.
You can organize photos by events, date, time, and location, but you can’t group things into folders. By automatically sorting your photos into “Moments,” MyRoll can make it easy to relive precious memories without having to make the effort of organizing things yourself. It’s a good option for people who like the Photos app but don’t want to deal with Google.
MyRoll doesn’t integrate with any of the major cloud storage providers, but it does play along with social networks, making it a decent way to create Facebook albums from your phone or tablet. MyRoll also integrates with Android Wear devices, letting you view, access, delete, and share photos from your wrist.
The Cyanogen Gallery comes to us courtesy of the CyanogenMod project, the most popular custom ROM that has ever graced an Android device. That said, you don’t need to worry about flashing the operating system to your device to make use of the app. It’s available in the Play Store for anyone to download.
The Cyanogen Gallery’s interface looks more KitKat than Lollipop, but considering most Android phones aren’t running lollipop, that’s not a big deal for everyone. The app is stylish nonetheless, thanks in part to its distinctive blue sidebar. It organizes photos by date, album (or folders), and moments. You can browse images saved online, as long as they’re on Dropbox, Google+, Flickr, or Facebook.
A+ Gallery pitches itself as the ideal combination of Android and iOS, with the app offering a Material Design-inspired interface that borrows from what iPhone users are accustomed to. That’s not to say the experience will feel unfamiliar to Android users. Even if you’ve never used an Apple product, A+ Gallery won’t take long to learn.
Like MyRoll, A+ shares similarities with the Photos app, such as the use of a tabbed bar across the top. In this case, there are three: Photos, Sync, and Albums. The first lists images by date. The last lets you browse them by folder. As for the middle, it only applies to Facebook. Don’t come here looking for support for other sites.
One cool feature A+ rocks is the ability to browse photos based on color. The icon in the top right lets you select one and watch as all of the images on-screen filter out except for ones that most closely match your selection. It’s not 100% accurate, but it’s amusing, and it can help you track down photos that are easier to recall visually than by time or place.
Photo Gallery & Editor comes with, you guessed it, a built-in editor. While most of these options let you do some basic cropping and rotation, this one lets you do a little more without installing a separate app.
Which app do you use for viewing photos? The options are changing all the time, so don’t hesitate to give your favorite a shout out in the comments.