Photo filter apps are fun ways to share mobile photos with friends or add personality to your snapshots. iTunes and Google Play both offer a variety tools — some are geared towards heavy editing, while others have impressive social aspects. Here are some of the best photo filter apps you can get right now.
Picture: Vernon Chan/Flickr
Now that the whole terms of service fiasco is behind us, Instagram is once again considered to be one of the best photo filter apps available; not because of the number of features or the editing tools available, but because of the massive social network behind it. Attention goes where your friends are, and that is definitely the case for Instagram. The app does have a few editing tools, including the ability to rotate or apply colour-correction to your photos, but Instagram's strength is in letting you share those photos quickly.
Snapseed is a photo free editor we love on iOS and recently also landed on Android. It's the product of Google's recent acquisition of Nik Software, the company that originally built the app. Call it an Instagram competitor if you want, but Snapseed's focus is on making your photos look fantastic and putting high-quality editing tools in your pocket. Snapseed comes loaded with photo filters and personalisation tools, but it goes further than that. You can tweak and edit entire photos or just clean up certain sections, or just hit Auto Correct and let the app handle everything.
Available for iOS and Android (and the web!), Pixlr-o-matic does away with the social aspects almost entirely (although you can certainly share your photo creations after you've finished with them.) The app offers hundreds of photo filters, borders and other tweaks you can apply to your photos, complete with the ability to overlay multiple effects and filters, preview how the final product will look and make subtle adjustments along the way. All in all, the app offers something like five million permutations of filters and borders, so you actually can create something unique. If you prefer not to fiddle with your photos in real time, you can always save them, play with them later, then share them with your friends.
Our pick for the best camera app for iPhone, Camera+ does much much more than just let you customise your photos. The app was — and many will argue still is — vastly superior to Apple's built-in camera app, and it includes tools that help you take better, faster photos. On the customisation side, Camera+ offers several photo borders, custom filters and other personalisation effects you can apply before or after saving your photo. As with other apps, you can layer effects and filters on top of one another, edit your photo, rotate it and crop it before you share it with the world. If you're looking for a complete camera app replacement for the iPhone or iPad, Camera+ is a worthwhile download.
Camera ZOOM FX (Android, $2.99)
Our pick for the best camera app for Android, Camera ZOOM FX is another app that's much more than just a tool for personalising and adding filters to your photos. Camera ZOOM FX is a complete replacement camera app for Android, one that helps you take better shots, take burst shots, line up your photos and then edit them. The app even lets you import previously taken photos so you can edit them.
We're betting that there are more than a few great apps that didn't make this list. Let us know about your favourite and why in the comments below.