We all use our smartphones to take photos — probably more often than we make phone calls or maybe even send messages to our friends. But while we're all used to snapping away with the camera apps that our phones come pre-loaded with, there's a whole world of creativity waiting to be unlocked — if you just take a quick look into the app store. Here are five of our favourite apps for Android phone photography that will update the way you'll take, edit and share photos.
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Pixlr is a one-stop photo editing shop, but its chief appeal comes from the way that you can apply its filters and effects. You can combine two different photos for a double exposure, or create a collage and add text effects to turn your photos into image macros. If you happen to own a Chromebook, you'll probably already know how good the Pixlr app on there is. Pixlr also has an active community, and even if you don't want to participate you can share your work directly to Facebook, Instagram or Twitter as you wish.
Pixlr is entirely free from the Google Play Store.
If you had to download a single app for your Android phone that would completely change the way you take and edit and share photos, it would be VSCO CAM. Not only can it take photographs for you with a very simple interface that is nonetheless powerful, you can edit those photos afterwards by applying any of a huge range of image filters and adjusting their strength. There's also a social networking element, since you can see what other photos your friends are posting and explore the wider community of photo enthusiasts as well.
VSCO Cam is free to download from the Google Play Store, but has in-app purchases for the more nuanced and advanced image presets.
A lot of people like a lot of different camera apps for Android, but this one is our particular favourite at the moment. Even if your phone's camera app has a specialist Pro mode or lets you change the white balance or exposure in advanced settings, you can rest assured that Manual Camera does all that and more. It's the most manual camera app around. Crucially, with any supported phone you can also capture images in the RAW file format — which even on a smartphone's tiny sensor allows for some adjustment to shadows, highlights, colour and overall exposure.
Manual Camera is $4.09 from the Google Play Store, but it's a one off purchase and we think it's well worth it.
If you've taken photos on your phone, you know that they can sometimes be a little off sometimes. Not in a massive way, but maybe that landscape is lacking a little bit of saturation or that portrait of your friend isn't quite sharp enough. There's an easy way to fix this, whether you're snapping a normal JPEG image using your regular camera app or even if you're shooting RAW in something like Manual Camera. Snapseed is like a mini-Photoshop that lets you tweak exposure, saturation, sharpness, contrast and highlights, as well as cropping and adding effects.
Snapseed is entirely free from the Google Play Store.
Adobe Photoshop Mix
Photoshop Mix takes a slightly different approach to Snapseed in editing photos on your Android phone. Where Snapseed is all about the small, base-level tweaks to your image, Photoshop Mix throws that out the window to let you completely remove the backgrounds from an image and add in a scene from an entirely different photo — it's almost like creating a collage. As well as creating multiple layers, you can use proprietary Photoshop tech to take the blur out of shaky images and create fascinating double exposure photographs, all from your phone.
Adobe's Photoshop Mix is entirely free from the Google Play Store.