Software

Five Android apps for adding special effects to photos

If you need to up your marketing game with photos, but you're not exactly a Photoshop guru, worry not. These five apps make it easy to enhance your pics.

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Image: iStockphoto.com/scubaluna

If a picture is worth a thousand words, a picture with the right effects is worth a million. And those million words could translate to social media shares... which could turn into business. That's right: From a standard photo to viral sharing, all thanks to a few photo effects.

But how do you apply those effects? You turn to your Android device and the Google Play Store. There, you'll find plenty of tools that can give those photos just the right look you need to make your product, company, or service even more likely to go viral.

Be careful, though: This category is a minefield of bad apps that either don't do what they claim or that are filled with so many ads they make the app useless. To help you winnow out the bad ones, I picked five of my favorites. Let's dive in and see what apps are the best and what they can do for you.

Note: This article is also available as an image gallery.

1: Paper Camera

Paper Camera (Figure A) is actually a full-blown camera app that offers some amazing effects. But just because this app is also a camera, don't think you can't apply the included array of effects on previously taken photos. You can. The effects include cartoon, sketch, comic book, half tone, noir, neon, and more. Paper Camera can work on either front- or rear-facing cameras (and does an outstanding job with either).

Figure A

Figure A

The one thing you must remember with this app is that as the name implies, it's all about paper sketches—so that's the type of effects you can expect. However, Paper Camera does them better than most other apps. Paper Camera isn't free. But the low price of .99 cents is worth every piece of pseudo copper you lay down.

2: Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Mobile

If you're looking for an app to really punch up your photos, how can you go wrong with an industry standard the likes of Adobe Photoshop Lightroom? Believe it or not, Adobe made this app available for Android and even made it free (which is astounding, considering how powerful the app is). With Photoshop Lightroom Mobile (Figure B) you can work with the coloring, white balance, temperature, vignetting, tone curve, and more. The app is fast, offers a wonderful (and surprisingly easy to use interface), and can take your photos to a level you might not be able to reach otherwise.

Figure B

Figure B

Once you're done working with your photo, you can save it to your collections or even share it through the standard Android sharing mechanism. You can use this app without an account, but if you sign in with an Adobe ID you'll get additional features (such as real-time syncing). You can also sign up for a free trial. I have found working with Lightroom without signing in to be all I need.

3: Pixlr

Pixlr (Figure C) isn't just a web-app wannabe replacement for the likes of Gimp or Photoshop. It's also a mobile app that does an outstanding job of adding effects to your photos. Some of the effects you might find a bit on the cutesy side, but those that aren't can really help make those images pop.

Figure C

Figure C

One of Pixlr's really cool features allows you to create easy collages with existing photos (great for marketing purposes) and even apply effects to those. Pixlr is free, but does include ads. At times, the ads can get a bit intrusive, but given the amount of awesome you get with the apps, the ads are worth dealing with.

4: Cupslice

There's one thing you have to understand about Cupslice (Figure D): Its primary target audience is the selfie-addicted masses. But the fact that it contains stickers and frames shouldn't distract from its numerous photo effects, all of which do a great job of helping make minor adjustments to your photos to give them a polished look. This is a simple app that anyone can use. You can even download new stickers (if that feature appeals to you) from the in-app store.

SEE: Five great keyboard alternatives for Android tablets

Figure D

Figure D

Some users will really appreciate one feature in particular. Because you can add text to the images, you can insert your company name and adjust the transparency to create an easy watermark. Cupslice is free and serves as a great way to learn how image editing can happen on a mobile device.

5: Fotor Photo Editor

Fotor Photo Editor (Figure E) is surprisingly sophisticated, especially considering it's now a free app. Fotor gives you a lot of control over your photos, with enhancements, scenes (with regard to lighting), effects, and much more.

Figure E

Figure E

From within its advanced controls, Fotor allows you to edit the vignette, shadows, highlights, temperature, tint, RGB, and curve of the image. You can rotate, crop, add frames and stickers, pixelate, and even alter the image focus, giving it a somewhat tilt-shift look. The Fotor interface is easy to learn. There are no ads to this app, but you can purchase in-app effects, fonts, frames, stickers, and collages.

Your picks for pics?

If you're looking for the right apps to help you get the most out of your images, this list will do the trick. Each of these apps offers a unique set of filters and effects—and all of them will get the job done without you having to climb a steep learning curve.

Do you have a favorite app that didn't make this list? Share your recommendations with fellow TechRepublic members.

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About Jack Wallen

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website jackwallen.com.

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