Remember a few years back, when the first camera phones appeared on the scene? The world suddenly went mad for them, with early adopters shelling out thousands of rands for a phone that could take maybe six images of maybe 100 pixels each. Fast forward a decade or so, and we're not so easily impressed. With just about every smart phone now capable of taking thousands of pictures and recording reams of video, we've gone from marvelling at the technology to being blasé about it. It's no longer enough to simply take pictures; we have to make them perfect too.
Fortunately, developers have provided us with the tools to do almost that. There are literally hundreds of photo editing apps out there; from the sublime to the flashy and expensive. Here we round up our top picks for smartphones:
Simple, straightforward and effective, Snapseed allows you to manipulate anything from colour to warmth and image size with a slide of the thumb. It may not be the most in-depth app available, but it's very user-friendly and comes in both Android and iOS editions – good news for those fed up with Apple's dominance in the photo editing app market.
Available in both "free" and "pro" versions, BeFunky is an odd sort of meshing of Instagram and a serious picture editor. For some, the only tweaking they'll ever do is slapping some cartoon effects on images of cats; but the ability is there to manipulate in a more-straightforward way. It's perhaps no surprise BeFunky's popularity is growing so rapidly.
5. Adobe Photoshop Express
Despite the Adobe name, Photoshop Express for mobile is a very simple service; drawing on little of the advances that made its desktop cousin a must have for anyone with a camera. That being said, there's still plenty here to tempt even the most casual user: slider controls to tweak contrast, shadows, exposure and saturation; along with your basic cropping and red eye effects. As a bonus, extra effects can be purchased "in app", giving you the option of making your mini-editing suite that much more impressive.
Here's something for the Windows Phone devotees. Oggl may have started life as a bug-infested social networking tool, but a succession of updates has transformed it into one of the best image-manipulators on the block. Different lenses and effects come as standard, and a nifty bit of digital footwork allows you to upload to Instagram (something that shouldn't be possible on a Windows Phone). It's brilliant and easy to use.
Repix has long been one of the best apps available on Android. It allows you to manipulate images in creative ways, making them appear like paintings or highly-detailed drawings. Even if you don't go in for that sort of thing, it still comes with all the basic options, easily putting it on a par with Photoshop Express.
Unashamedly targeted at designers and professionals as a handy "quick edit" program to play around with, Aviary offers more editing options than most competitors – along with all the standard faux-Instagram filters. Extremely in-depth for a mobile app, Aviary is probably the closest a free app will ever get to the experience of using a decent desktop editor.
1. Adobe Photoshop Touch
There's little to say about Photoshop Touch except "oh, wow". Retailing at around R1 000, it's certainly expensive for an app; but it more than makes up for the price tag with what it can do. Put simply, Touch is like transferring Photoshop from your laptop onto your phone. The range of edits and filters available is unbelievable and the finished product is professional quality. The only downside is how slowly it operates. But then that's to be expected when an app is packing this much power. –? Gadget.co.za
Heather Green is a writer for treat.com and is a photography enthusiast.