Alongside the powerful iPhone 5, and now the amazing iPhone 5S, iPhoneographers in 2013 have enjoyed some pretty rad photo apps. What follows is a completely subjective list of my favorite photo apps of the year. Some are in there because I use them and love them so much (I’m looking at you, Snapseed and PhotoSync), and others because they brought something truly new or great to iOS. Whatever, they’re all worth a look.
Technically this app came out in 2012, but who cares? After years of abuse as Yahoo executives refused to feed it, beat it for no reason and stubbed cigarettes out on its face, Flickr made a Rocky Balboa-esque comeback with its awesome iPhone app.
The highlights: Auto-upload, so all you pictures get sent to Flickr’s servers and stored (privately by default) forever (you get 1TB); Some of the best editing tools of any app on iOS; a photo stream view that lets you follow your friends and groups right there in the app; and a fast, responsive and simple UI that still manages to offer you everything available in the full site.
It’s also free.
Pixite’s Unbound (like its sister Flickr-based app Flickring) is an iOS front-end for Dropbox. The idea is that you keep your photos in folders on Dropbox, and Unbound turns those folders into albums that look and behave just like the pinch-to-open albums in the iOS Photos app.
There’s a lot to like about Unbound, especially in its new iOS 7 incarnation, and even more to like about the Flickr version Flickring. I use Flickring to view my photos (I have uploaded almost every photo I’ve taken to Flickr), as well as to delete unwanted auto-uploads and also to make albums, which is something both the Flickr app and site are both still pretty lame at.
If you use Dropbox of Flickr as your main photo store online, you should grab these apps right now.
Snapseed by Nik was pretty much the best iOS photo editing app, up until Google bought the company. Thankfully, this is one property Google hasn’t yet ruined. Snapseed isn’t the most powerful photo app, but it does everything you need easily and very quickly thanks to its swipe-driven interface.
It also has the unique Drama filter, which adds, uh, drama; plus a cut-down version of Nik’s amazing u-point tech, which lets you add local adjustments with some clever edge-detecting magic.
Still one of the best.
Procreate is technically a drawing and painting app, but the addition of filters and a crazy-fast engine makes it ideal for photos, too, especially as you can load up pictures in layers and use blend modes. Here’s what I wrote Procreate 2 launched last month:
• Filters. This is the big one. Procreate now adds photo-like filters so you can tweak curves, opacity, color balance and even add things like Gaussian blur and noise to individual layers. This is lightning fast: even on the old iPad mini the blur is added in real time as you swipe the image, and you can even zoom in and out and twist the image while doing it. It’s pretty amazing.
Another v2.0 that kicks ass in every way. Mattebox 2 is a capture and editing app that offers as close to full manual control as you’ll get on the iPhone, along with a clever two-step lock-recompose-and-shoot shutter release and the option to save photos as high-quality TIFF files.
It also (and this is almost unbelievable) lets you import filters from Photoshop and output any edits you make as Lightroom presets, ready to use on your Mac. There’s even a section for sharing and browsing filters made by other folks.
If there was a way to assign Mattebox to the lock-screen camera shortcut, I’d do it in a second.
Photospector is the app to use if you want to correct your pictures, not to make wild grungy edits and add fake light leaks. It lets you tweak your photos right down to the pixel (40,000 x 25,000px photos can be opened) using levels, curves, a white-balance eyedropper and the full range of brightness, contrast and other controls.
But it also lets you batch edit photos, copy and paste adjustments and add keywords and ratings to your pictures. You can then make smart albums based on these metadata tags.
Photospector might not be for everyone, but it’s one of the best apps that does this job.
Filmic Remote works alongside the equally great Filmic Pro movie-shooting app, and lets you command and control any number of other iOS devices from a central console. The idea is that you can launch Filmic on a bunch of iPhones, iPads and iPod Touches and use Filmic Remote to switch between them and remotely control their cameras (tweaking effects, exposure and so on). Then you take the results and edit them in the app of your choice.
It’s pretty great, and as it’s free it’s a must have for folks who already own Filmic.
Groopic solves the problem of the photographer never being in the photo. With Groopic, you take a shot of one or more people, then switch with somebody. Letting them take another picture, only this time with you in the frame.
The app then combines the pictures to make one photo, putting you in the frame alongside your friends. Simple, and good at what it does. Almost as good, in fact, as my favorite single serve app, which is…
Keycam does one thing: takes self time photos. There are lots of apps that do this, but who wants to fire up something as bloated and toxic as Camera+ just to snap a photo of you and your better half together?
Keycam has minimal settings: pick a countdown time (five, ten or 15 seconds) and hit go, or choose the amazing clap trigger. This uses the microphone to detect your clap and start a 5-second countdown. I use this a ton when The Lady and I are out in the wilderness, as it lets you a) get settled in place before triggering the timer and b) you can take several shots without running back to the iPhone.
Bonus: the iPhone’s flash even blinks to let you know when the photo will be taken. It’s also free, and weighs just 4.5MB. This is an app that should be on every iPhone
Why the hell would you need an app to transfer photos between your iOS devices, and from iOS to Mac and back, when you have Photo Stream and AirDrop? Three words: full-resolution transfers. Want it in two words? Here: It’s awesome.
I’ve been using PhotoSync for at least a couple of years and it’s plain great. Not only can it move full-res photos between all your devices (including Macs), it can also send pictures off to Dropbox, Flickr, SmugMug, 500px… and pretty much every photo sharing site you can think of. You can specify which album the pictures will be saved to on the target device, you can have pictures transferred to a computer or web service automatically when you get home (or anywhere thanks to location-based actions), and you can even have it, say, send only newly taken photos from your iPhone to your iPad with the press of one single button.
Did I mention it works over Bluetooth, finding other nearby instances of PhotoSync automatically without any stupid pairing required (just like AirDrop)? Or that it’s rock solid stable? Or that I have the icon in the exact same place (top left corner of the second home screen) on every one of my iDevices?
In short, this is an app you probably need.