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Do more than just shoot pictures

We’re awash with great cameras on phones. The Galaxy S7 line, Note7, LG V20, and many others vastly outperform what phones could do even just a couple of generations back.

But more complex and creative editing has usually been relegated to the desktop where you can get your hands on more advanced tools. That’s no longer necessary. Not only are there good editing apps, but there are many that let you get creative and really go for some out-of-the-box designs.

That’s why I landed on these five options, as they allow you to really turn an image into something more artful. Check them out and see what you think, and be sure to let us know if there’s another gem worth trying.



You can’t go wrong with all of the possibilities from Google’s Snapseed. The free app offers a number of specific controls that you usually have to pay for in more advanced editing applications and easy-to-use options that even amateurs (such as myself) can learn to use. With just a little bit of practice you’ll be making granular adjustments to the brightness, contrast, warmth, shadows, and other components of pictures.

The app makes clever use of the touch interface. You slide up and down to change parameters and then left or right to adjust it. Then a button at the top lets you quickly view the original image for a comparison. Google has kept a fairly strong development pace to it’s getting better all the time.


snapseed bear


Snapseed – Make objects disappear


One of the magic tricks you normally perform with a desktop-style editing application is making people or other objects disappear. You can do that right from your smartphone with Snapseed. As you can see from the image, I used such a command to make the bear disappear (this wasn’t available in real-life, though fortunately I was inside a bus when the fuzzy friend appeared).

Try this out in different images to see how well it does, as you might be able to finally re-use some of those pictures with that annoying relative that likes to photobomb every time you take a picture.


snapseed black and white


Snapseed – Filters

Filters are a dime a dozen, but you still beat a great black and white image. I find that Snapseed does this exceptionally well, turning this shot looking out from Ghiradelli Square into a more atmospheric image. You have various options from the black and white collection to let you change up the look. Once you do that, you’re able to tweak the brightness further to achieve just the right look. Look for the other filters if there’s a different look that you want to try out.

polarr brush

I first discovered Polarr when I was looking for a desktop alternative to investing time into learning Photoshop. But my laziness is your gain, as Polarr also offers an excellent photo-editing app for Android. This view shown here is where you can play with the radial, gradial, color, and brush mask. These can add in some nice details to this photo of the adorable toddler. The brush mask adds a fresh coat of paint and helps the portrait really pop against the background.


polarr white balance


Polarr – Temperature, tint, and more

This is one of the Polarr sample photos, but I opted to use it here because the diversity of colors in the picture illustrate well how you can adjust the temperature, tint, vibrance, and many other different parameters with Polarr.

You’ll notice on the left of the screen a nearly complete circle with a number – that’s to let you go back to the three different edits I’ve made. The scale on the right makes it easy to make very fine adjustments and observe right away how they turn out.