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13th Aug 2018

Best Photo Editing Apps for Android

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Once upon a time, phones were just phones.

But then one day, developers realised how valuable and useful it would be to incorporate a camera into their phones. The ability to take pictures and videos at any time and anywhere was a game-changer. This was the birth of the camera phone, a small idea which has skyrocketed into a global phenomenon, directly leading to the success of video site YouTube and the popularity of photo and video-based platforms like Instagram and Snapchat.

These days, having a camera in our phone is not only commonplace, it is absolutely expected. Smartphone manufacturers battle it out to incorporate the best cameras on their devices, improving and enhancing the hardware more and more. In 2018, modern smartphone cameras, especially on flagship devices (such as the Samsung Galaxy S9+) surpass even many stand-alone digital cameras in their quality and capability.

Taking great photos is one thing, but smartphones also equip us with the software to turn our images into works of art. You needn’t venture further than a photo editing app to create something beautiful and amazing. Got an Android device? There are dozens of photo editing apps available for Android smartphones, but there are some that stand out as the very best. Read on to discover the best photo editing apps for Android, and get ready for the most professional-looking pictures you’ve ever had.

Lightroom CC

Photographers who have experience using Adobe’s Lightroom on a desktop will love using the Lightroom CC app on their mobile Android device. While the app doesn’t quite offer the full realm of options as the desktop program does, the app is exceptional for photographers looking to apply professional edits on the go.

The Lightroom CC app allows you to make your edits with precision. There are options to carefully adjust light and colour, including the Color Mix tools where you can isolate and alter individual hues on the colour spectrum. Using the tone curve you can execute advanced edits on an image’s tone, exposure, colour, and contrast.

If you would rather edit quickly with a predetermined editing style, Lightroom offers a selection of presets to instantly enhance your photos with just one tap. These are generally subtle and realistic-looking: what you might expect from a professional brand such as Adobe.

Once you’ve created a signature style with your photos, you can copy your edits and then apply them to different photos. This is ideal for the photographer looking to build a consistent Instagram feed or a portfolio of highly similar images. The Lightroom CC app also has an inbuilt camera which enables you to capture images directly in RAW format, which allows for deeper, more intricate edits.

The basic Lightroom CC app is free, but a premium subscription provides additional features such as selective edits, syncing across devices, the healing tool, and more. For only a few dollars a month, it may be worth the upgrade.

VSCO

If you’ve spent any amount of time browsing Instagram in the last several years, chances are you’ve seen a number of photos edited with the VSCO App. VSCO became popular because of its beautiful, subtle presets that imbue photos with a film-like look. The soft, subdued results of a VSCO-edited image can be found all over Instagram, as that retro vibe has been in vogue in recent years.

But aside from the vintage style, what makes VSCO a great Android photo editing app?

The advantage of VSCO is that there are so many possibilities with the app. Unfortunately, while the app itself is free, you’ll need to pay to have access to the full array of great presets---and there are many.

On the free version, you’ll be able to use a handful of included presets, but you’ll have the basic editing tools, also, which are very easy to use with VSCO. This makes the app a good go-to solution for quickly editing images on your smartphone. From the main menu, you can adjust exposure + contrast, increase saturation, alter tone, change the white balance, fix skin tone, add grain or a vignette, fade the image, and more.

VSCO makes it a breeze to apply the same edits to multiple photos, another option for creating a consistent look. All you have to do is start in the gallery screen, highlight an image, click the dots in the lower right-hand corner, and select Copy Edits. You can then highlight one image (or several) and select Paste Edits. Your edits will be applied accordingly.

Another interesting aspect of VSCO is that it has its own community. Much like Instagram, you can share your photos straight in the VSCO app and follow other users. The space is less crowded than Instagram, so you might find you prefer interacting in VSCO.

A Color Story

Another terrific app for your Android photo arsenal is A Color Story.

This has an extremely straightforward interface, so the user experience is very positive. Easily navigate between Filters, Effects, and Tools, sort through your Saved images. or Shop for new, fun filter packs to add to your collection. While A Color Story is free to download, to get the most out of this app, you’ll want to purchase a few of their unique and vibrant filter packs. These packs offer some serious colour and are very distinctive filters that you won’t find on other apps. A few of the currently available collections are called Boho, Seasons, and Stardust. There are always new ones being released, too, so the potential for new looks just keeps growing.

The Effects features of A Color Story are another standout item. While other apps give you more control over the tiny details within photos, A Color Story lets you make big, interesting changes with just the click of a button. Add an instant glow or burst of light to your shot, or change the texture of the image with quirky overlays. Like the filter packs, you can also purchase additional effects for your use.

A Color Story offers the same range of critical editing tools as other apps, such as brightness, saturation, and sharpening. There are a few extras in the mix, too, like Hue Shift and Curves, which give you greater precision when editing.

Finally, Instagram fans will be especially drawn to one feature of the app, the Grid. As you edit and save your photos, you can then view them in a grid formation, visualising how they will appear on your Instagram grid. If you connect your Instagram account, you can see your current grid alongside your newly edited images. This makes planning a breeze.

Photo Mate R3

Photo Mate R3 is one of the lesser-known names in photo editing apps, but it’s a good addition to the list.

Points are gained for organisation. You can store your images in the app’s photo library, and categorise based on various metadata including keywords, ISO, and aperture. You can custom label images as well, so you can find them quickly. If desired, you can edit IPTC-Information on an image, such as Title or Description. This is something that you won’t find in other mobile photo editing applications.

Like to shoot in RAW? Photo Mate R3 supports this with a “non-destructive” editing process. This gives you superior control over the editing of each of your images.

While some of the apps on our list have a lighter, more casual layout, Photo Mate R3 has a serious, professional-looking interface. But that doesn’t mean it’s too difficult to use. There is a slight learning curve at first, because of the variety of options available, but the basic editing tools are straightforward once you’ve gotten the feel for where to find each tool. The Color-Adjustment Category is especially easy to use and visually appealing.

There is plenty offered in Photo Mate R3’s free app, but if you upgrade to premium you do get a lot more. Additional features include things such as custom export presets, full library organisation capabilities, custom watermarks, and layer editing. For the professional or even semi-professional photographer, these could be valuable elements to consider.

Snapseed

Snapseed is another solid app earning a place on this list. Even as a free app, it offers a great deal of customisation so you can create winning edits. More than 50 million downloads of Snapseed have been completed via the Google Play store, too, so you know it’s a well-loved option.

Take a look at all the tools Snapseed offers! It’s almost overwhelming. Within the Tools, you’ll find a number of choices that let you transform an image with just a click. These are found under titles such as Grunge, Drama, and Retrolux, and help you create a mood. In addition to these ready-made filter options, you can adjust selectively, to change the usual suspects such as lighting, colour, and warmth.

Snapseed has a slightly more intuitive interface than other photo editing apps, and it’s simple to undo your last edit by simply clicking a button in the upper right-hand corner. With that in mind, feel free to play around and go crazy; you can easily backtrack and try out the entire range of creative possibilities.

A couple of notable features of Snapseed include its sharpening tool, which enhances an image’s detail without the risk of increasing grain, and the Selective Adjust feature. With Selective Adjust, you can scrutinise a small, specific area of a photo and finetune its colour, lighting, etc. This is excellent for helping you a highlight part of your photo that you want to draw the viewer’s attention.

Pixlr

Not every photo editing app needs to help you create a photo worthy of an art gallery Sometimes, you just want to have fun and create something quirky! Pixlr is an Android photo app that allows for both. In addition to the major editing tools for lighting, colour, and other critical elements, Pixlr has a huge variety of effects and overlays that you can instantly add to your shots to shake things up. Some of these effects don’t necessarily have the most “realistic” look, but they are heaps of fun.

With Pixlr you can...turn a regular photo into an artist’s drawing. Enhance your shot with light flares or shaped overlays. Create an Andy Warhol-style presentation of your favourite photo. Or use one of the dozens of filters to transform your picture into a truly distinctive image, perhaps with an old-fashioned glimmer or a radioactive gleam.

Want to see how your photo has changed? Hold down on the shot to see a quick before and after look. This shows you just how your edits have altered your image from start to finish.

After playing around with all the built-in filters and features, you can spend more time working with the tools. There’s a lot to explore here in Pixlr, including red-eye correction, splash effects, smoothing, and double exposure.

Want to change up your photos even more? Instal a border, build a collage with multiple photos, or add stickers, including a number of ready-to-go inspirational quotes and words of wisdom.

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No matter which of these Android photo apps you try, they will all give you the result of an awesome image that’s truly your own. You may want to sample a few of the apps to see which has your preferred user interface, or which offers the filters you like the most.

Download one of these apps, or download them all. You don’t need just one. Why not combine your favourite features from each to develop your perfect images?

Happy editing!

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