Android Photo Apps That I Use

Inspired by Chris Betcher’s excellent blog post Snap Happy, which out lines some of the great apps available for the Apple iPhone. I decided to write one outlining some of the great apps that are available and the Android platform.

After witnessing the success of some of my twitter friends completing the 365 project for 2010. I thought I would give it a go for 2011. I had attempted to do it a couple of years ago but failed by the 5th day. I put this failure down to not having a camera at hand at all times and also not having a smart phone. My previous phone was a camera phone but it lacked the slick user interface (UI) and access to an Apps Store/Market Place that my current smart phone (HTC Desire HD) has. Having access to a multitude of apps that lets you tweak, manipulate and transform your images without having to use a PC is what I put down to progressing beyond day 5. My inner Geek also relishes the discovery of what various apps can do.

I love the Android platform. I also like Apples iOS as well after having used an ipod touch for the past couple of years. Yeah, I know  I wasn’t getting the full experience that you get from using an iPhone but it was close enough to get a good feel for it. Android 2.2 codenamed Froyo is easy to use and just as intuitive as iOS. However, it did take me a little while to get used to it after having used my itouch. My Desire HD is a great phone and like the iPhone it has its limitations. It has a good camera and wonderful 4.3 inch LCD display. Multitasking and the screen tend to drain your battery quite quickly. It’s a good idea to use a task killer. I get about 7-8 hours of life but if you are going to use the GPS, wifi, bluetooth and several apps simultaneously then you better not stray too far from a power source.

The Android Market Place is great. Not as good as Apples App Store because of the sheer number of apps available, but the Market Place is continuing to grow and I believe that once developers see that there is as much money to be made on the Android then it will soon match Apple. There is a positive spin off from this and that is there are a lot of free apps and often free versions of what you would pay for on iOS. The Android Market Place is more open than Apples App store which has its advantages and disadvantages. Advantage are the availability of innovative apps that might not get through Apples vetting process. Disadvantages are you get some crud. To combat this I have used app curators such as App Brain and App Bucket. However, since the Market Place is now available as a browse-able web page, I have found that the cream does rise to the top and the top reviewed apps are generally in the top 10.

I am amazed at the creativity that some of the camera apps offer. Before I would have had to download into iphoto or import into Photoshop to get the same effects and results. Now I can do most of these things on the phone. Discovering what some of the camera apps can do has been the most enjoyable aspect of the 365 project. Below are some of the apps that I have found to be very useful.

My 1st port of call is the Desire HD’s built in Camera and Gallery effects. Here you can easily Crop, Rotate, and add a variety of effects. Such as, auto enhance, cinnamon (colour wash leaving browns), High contrast, sepia, over exposed, glimmer (like a colour vignette), vintage, and bleak just to name a few. It also enables you to create a basic white frame.  You can also use the camera’s built in effects on the fly and often I have used the vignette or Depth of field effects. However, the built in camera effects are limited in that they are one click effects and have no ability to tweak the amount of effect desired.

Picsaypro is an amazing app. It is so versatile its like having many apps rolled into one. Its 52 effects allow you to do almost anything. The UI is a slider that allows you to make slight  adjustments to standard photograph elements such as contrast, saturation, exposure, temperature etc. It offers a range of distortion effects like you see in Photobooth, a range of Colour adjustments from creating a subtle hue to an extreme Duetone and rainbow effects. I love the Artistic effects. Here you can make your image look like it has been posterised, pencil sketched, or light up like a neon sign. Picsaypro gives you access to photo effects such as High Dinamic Range (HDR), lomo, invert,  and a soft glow. It also offers a myriad of filters and frames where you can also change the colour of each. But that’s not all folks! In Picsaypro you have access to variety of novelty stickers to create humours or cartoon like images. You can also apply a range of different speech bubbles and balloons as well as an array of funky coloured text and titles which then can be transformed into any shape you want. Very similar to Comiclife. Picsaypro has great potential in the creative classroom. I can see students really enjoying this app and I would love to see it on an Android tablet. If you have an android phone this is one to invest in.

Photoshop espress is a good app but not as powerful as Picsaypro but its free. The reviews suggest that the App Store version is better. It does all the usual stuff like crop and rotate, adjust colour, exposure, black & white and brightness. Photoshop express also offers a range of funky effects such as pop art, vignette blur, warm vintage and rainbow to name a few. In Photoshop you can choose from a range of black and white borders. Photoshop’s UI is quite funky, to adjust the amount of effect just slide your finger across the screen.  If you have a Photoshop.com account you can upload your photos instantly. I wouldn’t bother if you have a Picasa account, its just as easy to upload and is integrated into your Google experience.


Retro Camera is a limited but fun and easy app to use. It offers about 5 different cameras such as a pin hole camera to your typical polaroid camera. It will create retro style reproductions of the images you shoot.  You can choose between black and white or colour. It has a funky UI which lets the user view the image through the camera they choose. The Gallery Viewer is cool too.

Camera 360 Is an interesting app. Like other apps it allows you to take images using a myriad of preinstalled effects such as: Black and white, HDR simulation, Night Enhancement and a number of nostalgia effects. Depending on your phone hardware you can set the images size from 272×272 to a whopping 3264×2448. It can record your location whilst using your GPS and images are easily shared to the cloud via the export function. One stand out feature is the ‘Scenery Mode’. When in this mode you can choose from a variety of scenes in which your image is placed. For example an artist painting a portrait and your image is place on the canvas or on the back of a magazine. The free version offers only one pre-installed scene, if you want more you have to purchase them.

FX Camera Another novelty camera app that allows you to take images using a variety of effects. These are Toycam, Polandroid, Fisheye, Symetrical, and Wharhol. In normal view you also have access to a number of changes such as sepia, mono, negative, posterise and solarise. It free with adds, easy to use and can turn what might be a mundane picture into something more interesting.

Vignette this is another powerful camera app that offers and incredible array of effects. Similar to the others mentioned above you use this app to take your photographs and overlay them with a series of preset effects. Unfortunately, you don’t get to preview the effect before you take the image. It’s huge choice of effects and customisation will mean that spend quite a bit of time looking for or creating the right effect. Once you have done this however, you can then save it as a preset effect setting or you can save it as a widget to your home screen. Check out the link to see a list of preset and customisable effects. For $4 it maybe on the little expensive side but worth the packet of chips for the choice it offers.

Above is a list of some of the photography apps that I have used that is available on the Android platform. Obviously if you check the Market Place you will see that there are a lot more. I am glad that I am participating in the 365 project not only because I am documenting some of the images of my life but also because I have learnt quite a bit about some of the creative tools that are available for people with mobile devices.
Are you participating in the 365 project? Are you using a smartphone? What apps would you recommend using?

One thought on “Android Photo Apps That I Use

  1. Pingback: Ed Tech Crew » Ed Tech Crew 173 – The Big Android Show

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