When cell phone manufacturers began installing digital cameras into their devices some 15 years ago, a quantum leap occurred regarding the device’s functionality. Before this revolution, a cell phone’s role in anyone’s daily life consisted of merely making phone calls, sending text messages, and drafting emails. Today, everyone has a supremely high-powered digital camera in their pocket or purse, capable of taking stunning panoramas at the swift touch of a finger.
Though what good is a smartphone camera without the proper applications to get the most out of your photos? While the stock camera application on any Android-based smartphone provides an extremely easy way to snap and save pictures, it doesn’t offer much in the way of sprucing up those ordinary photos with filters and effects. A simple trip to the Google Play Store reveals an abundance of available photo and editing apps, but it isn’t always easy to find the best of the bunch. To help, we sifted through the sea of available programs and curated the following list of our favorite Android photo-capture and -editing apps worthy of a download.
One of the world’s most popular photo applications – and the world’s most popular photo-sharing social network – remains one of Android’s greatest resources for capturing all of life’s picturesque sunsets, peculiar landscapes, and delicious dinners. With access to a host of creative tools and filters, Instagram gives users supreme control over the taking and editing of photos. Once the photo receives its fair share of filters and fades, it can then be uploaded to social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, or Tumblr to amass even more likes and Internet karma. Aside from snapping and sending snazzy pics, Instagram users can follow their friends’ accounts – or celebrities and hilarious grandmas – to have a constant rotisserie of new pictures streaming through the home feed.
Seems fitting to include a Google-developed application here, but Google Camera is actually a strong photo app for Android smartphones. With an easy-to-use interface and intuitive controls, even amateur photogs have the ability to take stunning pictures without much of a learning curve. Google Camera’s impressive list of features include a High Dynamic Range function, the ability to create gorgeous panoramas with its photo-stitching technology, and the option of manipulating your camera’s depth using Lens Blur. Google Camera also touts Android Wear compatibility, allowing you to control the smartphone camera remotely through a wearable.
A social media-themed camera application without the fuss of likes and comments, VSCO Cam provides photography lovers a great outlet to share and inspire. With a wide range of presets and photo-altering tools, anybody has the ability to turn everyday landscape shots into a stunning finished product. The app also boasts its own unique processing technology that promises dazzling results not previously seen on Android-based devices. When editing photos, a simple click of the phone’s screen changes the viewer’s perspective between the original shot and the edited final product, allowing for easy before and after comparisons. After editing, users then have the option to share photos across a number of popular social media sites such as Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.
Developer Moment’s Little Photo remains one of the highest rated photo apps on the Google Play Store, featuring an extensive list of effects and filters not typically seen within a free application. Little Photo currently touts more than 70 effects and tools, and promises to continue to add to its enormous list with each subsequent update. Users have the ability to stack multiple filters while editing, allowing for a near infinite amount of possibilities and finished products. For added control Little Photo lets users choose between applying a full filter, or just half-applying the intended effect to achieve vastly different results. Little Photo’s easy to use interface and bevy of available effects and tools doesn’t disappoint; this app is a winner.
For a powerful camera application with professional-quality editing tools, look no further than Google’s Snapseed. With a massive amount of editing options, users won’t have a hard time making even the most mundane of photos jump to life. Snapseed gives users ultimate control over their images by including a host of sliders capable of altering a photo’s vignette, blur, temperature, and many others. The app also satisfies fans of the vintage look by providing the option of applying grainy overlays, ’60s-style film reel effects, or its unique Retrolux filter. Snapseed also allows lets you stack effects on any photo, similar to Layers in Photoshop, making it easy to produce a brand-new result each time you edit a photo.
Taking photos is the easy part, it’s the editing that typically causes headaches and frustrations. Luckily there exists a wide range of available photo editors – and yet again, these cost nary a dime – on the Google Play Store, designed to help photographers of any skill level achieve professional results. What follows are our picks of the best photo-editing applications for Android-based smartphones, capable of making even the dullest of photos pop with vivid color and life.
While most applications on the Google Play Store – photo-specific or not – typically feature a bevy of annoying ads and click-bait, Autodesk’s Pixlr photo editor keeps its interface clean and clear of any of these annoyances. What this allows for is a seamless editing experience, helping users focus solely on what matters most, the photos. Pixlr touts hundreds of effects, powerful editing tools, and handfuls of collage options that support absolute creative freedom. The app even provides a “favorites” button to create presets and save them easily in the app’s settings. You don’t typically find a photo editor this powerful available in the palm of your hand.
Incredibly easy and simple to use, Cupslice Photo Editor is perfect for novices. With a long list of available effects, tools, and photo configurations, this app makes it an absolute breeze to turn ordinary photos into stunningly beautiful images. Cupslice allows users to upload any completed photo to a host of social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, as well as chat applications like WhatsApp and Line. Photo editing apps don’t get much easier to use than Cupslice’s impressive offering.
Aviary’s Photo Editor gives photography fanatics a quick and easy method for any editing job, big or small. With one-touch controls, applicable stickers, and a slew of filters and effects, this editing application turns a smartphone into a premier photography studio. Perhaps its lone downside is the fact that, while free to download and use, Aviary does make users shell out some dough for a few of its effect packages. With that said, the ordinary application – sans updates – carries enough editing power to remain incredibly useful on its own.
Adobe’s software have long been considered by many as the preeminent solution for editing pictures and photos, and its Lightroom application for Android is no different. Though it requires users possess the desktop version of Adobe Lightroom 5 – as well as an Adobe Creative Cloud account – it packs a serious photo-editing punch capable of putting others in its class to shame. Users have the ability to not only edit photos taken with an Android smartphone, but also any DNG RAW camera images and any photos saved to the Lightroom 5 desktop program. As always, Adobe provides an incredible amount of effects, filters, and tools, making this a worthy companion for any expert photographer.
An Adobe photo-editing app that doesn’t require a mandatory subscription? Yes, please. With Adobe Photoshop Express, users gain access to Adobe’s library of impressive editing features including Blemish Removal, one-touch filters, and Adobe’s new image rendering engine. The app does offer a selection of in-app purchases such as access to permanent albums to save photos, advanced editing features, as well as additional image filters and effects. When budget holds you back, Adobe’s Photoshop Express remains one of the best options for gaining access to professional-quality photo editing software.