Best Android photo editing apps [February 2013]

by Jared Peters on
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As Android devices become faster and more capable computer-replacements, we’re expecting them to do things our traditional computers do, like photo editing. While Google provides a bit of support for effects on your pictures, and many OEMs provide some basic photo editing functionality in their software, sometimes it’s not quite enough, especially if you’re used to more in-depth editing on your desktop. That’s where this guide comes in; we’re going to list some of the best photo editing apps available for that supercomputer in your pocket.

PicSay Pro

PicSay Pro is a very powerful, easy to use photo editor. It’s got all the traditional touch-up effects and tools you’re used to, like adjusting the exposure and contrast, cropping and straightening, and red-eye removal. It also has a large selection of fun effects to use, including some fancy frames and filters that give Instagram a run for its money. PicSay’s biggest selling point, though, is its large catalog of stickers and text bubbles to add a bit of humor to your pictures. Do you think your dog needs a new hat and a mustache? PicSay has you covered. Want to try to portray your artistic side as a comic book superhero, complete with action sounds and dialog? PicSay won’t judge. And for the social media enthusiasts out there, PicSay also provides options for exporting edited pictures directly to Facebook, Twitter, or even Instagram, on top of the standard

If you’re looking for a versatile editor for serious and playful use, it’s hard to beat PicSay. They offer a free version with fewer effects and adjustments to see if you think the app is worth the $3.99, but if you give a shot, I’m sure you’ll think it is.

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Play Store Download Link (Free)

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Play Store Download Link (Paid)

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PicsArt

PicsArt is Android’s self-proclaimed #1 photo app. While that’s debatable, it’s hard not to argue that PicsArt is a fantastic, easy to use application for touching up a few of your photos and adding a few effects here and there. Compared to PicSay Pro, it doesn’t quite have as many wacky hats,fonts and effects to stick on your photos, but it makes up for that by offering a few features that you won’t find in any other photo editing app. The app even has a built-in live wallpaper with some pretty entertaining squiggly lines. Does it make the application better at editing photos? No. But it’s certainly a lot of fun, and PicsArt strives to make editing your photos fun.

The interface gets a thumbs up for a simple, clean, and intuitive design. Applying effects and stickers is easy to figure out; no need for complicated tutorials and thumbing through the app to try to do something simple. The developers also offer several extra plug-ins and effects that you can download straight from the Play Store to integrate into PicsArt.

To top it off, PicsArt also has it’s own pseudo-social-media service built into the app, so you can share your photos with others and search for popular and interesting images, whether for entertainment or your next great mobile masterpiece. Most impressively, this feature-rich application is free on the Play Store. If nothing else, it’s worth trying out for a few days to see if it could be your go to editing app.

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Play Store Download Link

 Snapseed

A relatively new application on Android, Snapseed was an extraordinarily praised photo editor on Apple’s App Store that was just recently bought up by Google and released in the Play Store. An app that received Technical Image Press Association’s 2012 Best Mobile Photo App award hardly needs to be hyped up, but we’re going to go into some of the nifty little things Snapseed can do.

The biggest draw to Snapseed is its fantastic interface. All of the image enhancements work by swiping gestures, which is a great way to fine-tune adjustments and is extremely easy to get used to. Sliding your finger up and down changes the type of adjustment you’re making to the photo, and sliding left and right applies the effect on a -100 to 100 scale, with far left being -100 and far right being 100. This makes those precision edits much easier to apply. And speaking of those effects and adjustments, Snapseed has a ton of different tools you can use to edit your photos to perfection. From adjusting the focus point of a photo to fine-tuning that perfect blur effect, Snapseed can do it all. It even offers a few different frames and filters for finishing touches.

Snapseed can’t quite match the humorous effects you can get from other editors like PicSay, but it more than makes up for it with it’s in-depth, powerful photo editing abilities. It also offers one-touch sharing to Google+. For a free app, you can’t go wrong with Snapseed.

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Play Store Download Link

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Photoshop Touch

It’s hard to get all the power of a desktop photo editing program stuffed into a mobile application for tablets. While Adobe didn’t completely recreate Photoshop for Android devices, they got extremely close and managed to nail most of the powerful features you’re used to in a well-designed, polished application. Many popular features from the desktop version of Photoshop made it into the mobile app, including different filters and layers, as well as a ton of essential tools that help to really push photo editing to the next level. It’s also designed to be used with a finger, instead of the traditional mouse and keyboard. That sounds like it should be a given, but it really does add an element of polish to the app.

Now, for the drawbacks of the app. First off, the price tag on Photoshop Touch is pretty steep compared to most apps. It’ll run you $10 to get this fantastic photo editor loaded on your tablet. Oh, and there’s the second drawback here; there’s no phone version of the application. It’s not a huge deal, because Adobe was clearly trying to recreate a mobile version of their program, and they would’ve had to sacrifice some features to crunch it onto a smaller screen. (Although it’d be nice to see them accommodate some of the bigger phones we’re seeing lately.)

Originally, PhotoShop Touch launched with some painful limits on the size of your pictures you could import into the app. Fortunately, they’ve upped that limit to accommodate up to a 12 megapixel shot, so it should be more than enough for most users’ editing needs. If you’re looking for a very in-depth, powerful editor for your tablet, or if you’ve already got some Photoshop experience, PS Touch is a worthwhile investment. There’s no other alternative that gets as close to the real thing as this application does. If you just need a quick editor for your phone, this isn’t your app.

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Play Store Download Link (Tablets only)

» See more articles by Jared Peters


  • Michael Portuesi

    This article nearly commits a crime by overlooking Pixlr Express, from Autodesk. Pixlr Express includes a wide range of decorative, Instagram-style effects, but also includes the basics you need for serious photo enhancement. I use Pixlr Express to process camera photos for posting to my blog. I prefer it over the imaging apps I have on my desktop computers because it’s so easy to accomplish a lot with just a few taps. Plus, Pixlr Express is free.

    • deano

      i was thinking the same about Pixlr Express

    • Del

      Good point. I love Pixlr Express.

    • cogase

      me too

  • cambridge

    this list sucks

  • http://twitter.com/villich Villi C

    I was just about to try Snapseed but turns out it’s not compatible with my phone.

    • Tula

      Snapspeed, the best and awesome photo editing software for android.

  • vatsal

    pixlr and pics art r the best

  • manny

    pixlr express is by far the best in my opinion. It’s fun to use and a wide variety of effects.

  • laviniayang

    Snapseed is the best in my opinion. Pilxr express and Aviary are good as well. But there are some other good apps. Snapseed is the most used app for me.

  • Kavanaugh

    Smoothie Photo Editor is my favourite.

  • Maciek Król

    I invite all of you to try out free version of the app “Smoothie Photo Editor” on android! Smoothie Photo Editor is the best photo editor I ever had. I will be very grateful if you download it! If u like the app thumbs up!

    Kkrol7

    • Maciek Król

      I Invite you all to try out the app “Smoothie Photo Editor” on Play Store.
      Lite version is for free!!.
      I encourage everyone to try.
      I’ll be very grateful!.
      Kkrol7

  • Shen

    I don’t know why this isn’t on here, but Aviary is such an incredible free app that I highly recommend. And for collages you can never go wrong using Photo Grid. They are both free. Although, with Aviary there are extra filters and such that are from $0.99 to $1.99 but I don’t even think they are needed. It is such an incredible app.

    • ShâħƄaƶ AħɱƏđ

      just download Black Market Alpha to download free apps which r paid apps on playstore

  • Fidsan

    Hi can anyone recommend an app that removes the background of photos? Primarily for product shots for my online store where I just need a clean white background so the products remain the focus. Thanks.

  • http://www.wisestep.com/ WiseStep

    I love this site thanks to the photo editing software’s shown above, please help me out i need a photo editing software that can remove or change any photo background!!

  • funkyfrog56

    Can anyone recommend a good app that resembles the ios Halftone 2? I don’t mind paying. Thanks :-D

  • Justin

    What I’m talking about is taking a picture with a crappy background (like dirty laundry) and changing the background to a color or pattern. Is that possible?

    • Sche

      Would be simpler to remove the dirty laundry from the background.

  • joydeb

    pixlr express is just awesome,

  • Cowicide

    I’m still waiting for someone, anyone to make an app on Android that allows me to use bezier path tools (like the Photoshop Pen Tool) to select elements in photos with smooth edges. Photoshop Touch (crazily) doesn’t have it yet, nor do any others I’ve tested. I was in a pinch the other day without my computer and it would have been great to have this tool. I honestly can’t take tablets seriously until this vital tool is available on them. The only thing I’ve been able to do is install GIMP which has bezier path tools, but I have to hook up external devices to make it work (mouse, stylus, etc.) and it’s slow, of course, since it has to run within a Linux VM.

    Sketchbook Pro is probably the closest in that you can load up an image and then trace around it with bezier paths fairly intuitively, but as far as I can tell it doesn’t convert the paths to a selection like you can do with the desktop Photoshop Pen Tool.

    I tried another app called Infinite design and was able to put a photo on a layer and trace around it with a Pen Tool, but once again, no way to convert the path to a selection that I can tell. I also found the Pen Tool with ID to be incredibly difficult to control, but I’m going to see if I can figure that out better down the road.

    I suppose I could jump through hoops and use the magic wand tool or something after making the path by bringing a rasterized vector path (bright red or something) into Photoshop Touch, but I’m really looking for something that would be much faster than that cumbersome multi-step process. Pretty much just want it to work like it does with Photoshop. I know it technically can work on my tablet since the bezier tools work and selections work. I’m just shocked that no developer including Adobe has worked to bring those two together by now. Using vector bezier paths to smoothly cut out elements from photos is vital for professional work and until tablets have this, it’s just a toy to me when it comes to design (in this regard).

  • srijan

    my ipod app is instaglass app.