The Best Android Photo Filtering and Creative Editing Apps

BY GreenBot Staff

Published 11 Oct 2016

Do more than just shoot pictures

We’re awash with great cameras on phones. The Galaxy S7 line, Note7, V20, and many others vastly outperform what phones could do even just a couple of generations back.
But more complex 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 go for some out-of-the-box designs.
That’s why I led on these five options, as they allow you to turn an image into something more artful. Check them out and see what you think, be sure to let us know if there’s another gem worth trying.

Snapseed

You can’t go wrong with all of the possibilities from Google’s Snapseed. The free app offers several specific controls that you usually have to pay for in more advanced editing applications, its easy-to-use options that even amateurs, such as myself, can learn to use. With just a little practice, you’ll be making coarse adjustments to the brightness, contrast, warmth, shadows, and other components of pictures.
The app makes clever use of the touch interface. You slide up or down to change parameters, then left or right to adjust it. Then a button at the top lets you quickly view the original image for comparison. Google has also kept a reasonably strong development pace; it’s getting better all the time.

Snapseed

Snapseed – Make objects disappear

One of the magic tricks you usually 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 photo bomb every time you take a picture.

Snapseed

Snapseed – Filters

Filters are a dime a dozen, but you still can’t beat a fantastic black-and-white image. I find that Snapseed does this exceptionally well, turning this shot looking out from Ghirardelli Square into a more atmospheric picture. You have various options from the black and white collection to let you change up the scene. Once you do that, you can further tweak the brightness to achieve the right look. Ok, for the other filters, if there’s a different look that you want to try out.

Snapseed

Polarr

I first discovered Polarr while looking for a desktop alternative to investing time in learning Photoshop. But my laziness is your gain, as Polarr offers an excellent photo-editing app for Android. This view lets you change the radial, gradient, color, and brush mask. These can add some lovely detail to this photo of the adorable toddler.

Polarr

Polarr – Temperature, tint, more

This is one of the larger sample photos. Still, I opted to use it here because the diversity of colors in the picture illustrates well how you can adjust the temperature, tint, vibrance, and many other parameters with Polarr.
You’ll notice a nearly complete circle on the left of the screen with a number to let you go back to the three different edits made. The scale on the right makes it easy to create beautiful adjustments and observe right away how they turn out.

Polarr

Polarr – Fixing or adding distortion

Polarr goes deep into several areas, including distortion techniques and other enhanced effects. Some options will be behind the paywall; for $10 per year, you get the complete package of features.
This space scene is ripe for distortion as it’s the suitable canvas to start something that can turn into a good abstract. The annual fee doesn’t include the desktop software, but it’s a low price for a solid set of editing tools.

Polarr

Adobe Lightroom

Adobe’s Lightroom is the top name when it comes to photo editing. The app has progressively improved, making it an excellent option for someone who wants to do most or even all of their editing on a mobile device. You can import images in that format to go deeper with your editing for phones that even shoot in RAW.
For this example, you can get a general sense of the layout and the tools you have to enhance any great picture. You can move the dial to improve a particular feature of this image, in this case, the clarity to help amplify the focus on the Aurora Borealis. You can go deep with Lightroom, though it takes some time to get to know it better.

Adobe Lightroom

Adobe Lightroom – Fine tuning

Another element that I really like about Lightroom is that I can pick a black and white filter, but easily make a number of other adjustments. It’s better than just grabbing a filter posting it to Instagram. Here you can tweak the temperature, tint, other effects. You’re also able to select the image as it was shot or after some automatic enhancement was performed.

To get the full impact of Lightroom, you’ll need a Creative Cloud subscription after the trial period. So try out the full feature set to see if it’s going to be worth it for you.

Adobe Lightroom

Adobe Lightroom – camera

Another good aspect of Lightroom is that it includes a separate camera app. You have a lot more customization options than what probably comes with your smartphone, perhaps the exception being the current Galaxy lineup, which has rather good camera settings.

You can shoot in Adobe’s DNG format or JPEG, control the white balance, set a timer, do a lot of other more advanced options. If you use Lightroom for your editing have a Creative Cloud subscription, it’s an option worth looking at. Be sure to put the Lightroom camera widget on your homescreen so you can jump into it right away.

Adobe Lightroom

Pixlr

Pixlr is well suited if you want to take some of your photos and get really creative. Turn buildings pink. Add in splashes of color that don’t belong. It’s one of the easiest ways to turn your picture into a canvas and get artistic with the filter touch-up choices.
This photo was made with a simple filter, and then some were brushed away from the color to create a contrast between the natural and imagined colors.

Pixlr

Pixlr – Frames

You can’t scroll that far through Instagram without seeing a ton of different frames that can jazz up a photo. I went for a ragged one here that would probably be suitable for some Halloween pictures, but you can take your time to scroll through the choices to find the right one for your photo.
A frame is a quick, easy way to jazz up a picture, particularly if you want to share it with others.

Pixlr

Pixlr – Stickers, Icons, more

Maybe you want to get crazy and throw some extra effects onto your photo. Pixlr definitely has you covered there, as there are a lot of different stickers, icons, and color schemes you can use to turn your photo into more of a finger painting.
The app may not have as many deep editing tools as others, but it excels in those areas where you may want to turn your picture into something fun.

Pixlr

Picsart Photo Studio

Sometimes you need some inspiration. Picsart, which is geared toward the types of creative, colorful photos you may be looking for, has a massive gallery of images you can use to experiment before you unleash your digital brush on your own pictures. This allows you to try out some different edits and see what’s possible with the app before you dive into adding changes to your own photos.

Picsart Photo Studio

Picsart Photo Studio – Stickers, Frames, objects

Want to add some extra goodies to your pictures? Some are about drawings, stickers, frames, and other objects to make their images more art than a photo.

There are plenty of those in Picsart. This picture gives you a taste of what you can do here by adding shapes and text, turning the entire image into a more abstract smear of blurriness.

Picsart is more of a social app than the other apps included here. The company offers many different tutorials to make creative pictures that you might want to share with the community.

Picsart Photo Studio

Picsart – Selective filter

Filters are friendly all, but sometimes even they need some adjustments. Picsart does an excellent job here by letting you erase or otherwise tweak parts of the photo after you’ve added a filter.
In this case, I’ve brushed the background to reveal the natural color while the foreground is still filtered. It’s not necessarily an award-winning work of art with this modest amount of work, but it demonstrates the types of things you can do.

Picsart Photo Studio