There are photo-editing apps aplenty on the App Store, so which should you use to improve your iPhone photos? Here we offer a selection of those we’ve found to be the best.
Chances are, you take a lot of photos on your iPhone. It’s the camera you always carry with you, and from the iPhone 4 onwards, the main camera is capable of some great-quality images.
It’s easy to share those photos on Facebook, Twitter and via email or iMessage, but there’s usually room for improvement before you hit that send button. Whether it’s basic edits such as cropping, rotating or whole-image adjustments to local editing and removing unwanted objects, everything is possible if you have the right app.
Apple’s own apps leave much to be desired, which is where third-party apps come in. Here we share a selection of our favourites that allow you to improve your photos, as well as getting creative with effects and borders. You won’t even need to spend any money, as most are free!
iOS 7 Photos app
This is likely to be the app you use most. It’s where you can view all the photos and videos you’ve taken, as well as those in your Photo Stream (including photos taken on other devices such as an iPad).
When you select a particular image you can perform basic edits including cropping, rotating and a one-tap auto fix. There are also some Instagram-style filters and red-eye reduction. But that’s it.
For many people, this is all they need. For others, the ability to increase saturation, edit certain parts of the image and add other effects means the Photos app isn’t good enough. So let’s look at the best of what’s available right now.
Best apps for improving your iPhone photos: SnapSeed
We’ve used SnapSeed for a few years now, and it’s still the photo editor to beat as far as we’re concerned. Not only is it free, it’s also very easy to use on the iPhone’s small screen and – at the same time – very powerful.
You can import images from your Photo Library or take a new photo. There are all the basic tools you’d expect, but the real power lies in the editing mechanism which involves swiping up and down to choose an adjustment (such as saturation, contrast etc.) and then left and right to increase or decrease the effect.
SnapSeed also lets you perform local edits with its Selective Adjust tool. You can pinch to set the radius for the area you want to adjust, then choose from brightness, saturation and contrast. You can add multiple editing points, and reset, move or delete each one.
There are effects and filters including HDR, tilt-shift, vignette, retro and monochrome. With each, you can adjust their intensity and other aspects.
Finally, you can add borders and share your images to all popular photo-sharing sites, as well as saving the image to your camera roll.
Best apps for improving your iPhone photos: Apple iPhoto
Price: £2.99 (free on iPhone 5C and 5S)
iPhoto is now free if you have an iPhone 5C or 5S, and costs £2.99 if you don’t. It’s had an overhaul for iOS 7 and offers many of the tools found in SnapSeed.
One area where it’s more powerful is local editing. There are several brushes, such as sharpen, soften and repair which aren’t present in SnapSeed. The repair brush works like the spot healing brush in Photoshop, but results are mixed. It’s hard, for example, to remove overhead powerlines from a photo, but it works well on small blemishes. Unfortunately there’s no clone brush.
iPhoto is a little confusing to use, and its filters – while plentiful – can’t be modified. Photos can be shared back to the camera roll or to all popular sites. Even if you own an iPhone 5S or 5C, both SnapSeed and Camera+ are better photo apps.
Best apps for improving your iPhone photos: Camera+
One way to improve your iPhone photos is to ditch the built-in camera app and install something better. Camera+ is the one you want, and you won’t regret spending £1.50 on it.
It improves on Apple’s Camera app almost in every way, offering separate focus and exposure points, an exposure compensation slider, shooting modes to help you get the best quality in different situations, and a stabiliser function to get the sharpest shots possible. You also get a self-timer (ideal if you want to be in the photo), a level indicator (which works like a spirit level) and a burst shooting mode that lets you take lots of photos in quick succession.
Better still, Camera+ has full editing capabilities, which it calls Lightbox. You can crop and straighten images, add filters and frames. The best filter is Clarity, which intelligently ‘fixes’ your photo, bringing out all the detail. It’s a little like HDR, but with no motion blur.
A particularly handy feature is the ability to save to your camera roll only the shots you’re happy with. That keeps things nice and neat. You can also access previously taken photos from your camera roll and edit them in Camera+.
The only niggle is that you’re stuck with Apple’s camera app from the lock screen, so you’ll have to get into the habit of unlocking your iPhone and launching Camera+. Also, bear in mind that you can’t shoot panoramas or videos in Camera+ so use the lock screen to access Apple’s app for those.
Best apps for improving your iPhone photos: Instagram
Arguably the app that kick-started a slew of filter-toting copies, Instagram is basically a social network that’s all about the photos which look like they were taken on a 1980s Polaroid instant camera.
You need to register for an Instagram account, then you can use the app to take photos which are then shared on Instagram’s website. You can see what various filters will look like in your scene before taking the photo, but they can also be applied post-shot.
You don’t have to share your photo on Instagram – it can equally be uploaded to Facebook, Twitter or Tumblr.
Best apps for improving your iPhone photos: Manga Camera
For a bit of fun, try Manga Camera. This free app lets you choose from 20 different comic book frames, and then take a photo of your friend(s) in silly poses.
It isn’t possible to add a frame to an existing image, so you’ll need to use the app to take the photo.
Once taken, you can save the image to your camera roll or share it on Facebook or Twitter.
Best apps for improving your iPhone photos: Photosynth
Like Manga Camera, Photosynth is a bit different to your usual camera app. Using Photosynth you can create full 360-degree panoramas, side to side and up and down. The result is a virtual 3D scene which you can share via Facebook, or view in the Photosynth app.
When taking the photos, on-screen guides help you line up the next shot which is taken automatically when you’re in the right position. The best results come from using a tripod, rather than holding your iPhone at arms’ length, but it’s still possible to get a seamless panorama if you’re careful.