Many of the apps, including Adobe Photoshop Express, Cinemagram, Pic Stitch and Postal Pix are geared for honing your images and giving them keeper status after a vacation or sojourn around town. But they can be used back at the hotel or during a restaurant reprieve, too.
The very popular Instagram, on the other hand, is very much oriented to use in the picture-taking moment. But you can use it to gaze at your friends’ and other users’ handiwork anytime, on the train or during a break in the workday.
Here are five top photo apps, all of which can be downloaded for free:
Adobe Photoshop Express (iPhone, Android)
A slim version of the photo-editing classic Photoshop, Adobe Photoshop Express is an easy and efficient editing tool. Just take a photo or select one from your camera, Photo Stream or free Photoshop.com account, adjust the brightness or exposure, play with the saturation or tint, colorize the image and tack on a border.
It’s annoying to get pitched an Adobe Effects Pack ($2.99) and Adobe Border Pack ($1.99), though you can use the app without them. And sliding a finger across a smartphone or tablet to precisely edit an image can be awkward.
Share the images on Photoshop.com, Facebook, Flickr, Twitter and Tumblr or by e-mail.
Cinemagram is fun. But it may be considered a mere novelty app as it lets you take a video and turn it into a hybrid – a video within a photo. You take a video of your daughter prancing in front of Mount Rushmore, for instance, keep her in motion in the video portion of the Cinemagram and retain the image of the four presidents and the Black Hills as a stationary background photo.
You can touch it all up with filters called Paris or Kingston, render it black and white, or give your Cinemagram a vintage appearance before sharing it on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr or Cinemagram, where you can view other people’s works. You can geo-tag the Cinemagram to identify its location.
Instagram (iPhone and Android)
Instagram is more than a photo app. It’s a social network, too. You can view a friend’s pic of his mutt clad in a red sweater or gaze at New York City taxis submerged in water after Superstorm Sandy hit town.
The app is very intuitive. You take photos or access existing ones from your devices. Plentiful filters and effects turn ordinary photos into professional-looking images.
Instagram is all about sharing, and you can easily upload photos to Facebook, Flickr, Twitter, Tumblr, Foursquare and your Instagram photo map, which plots where your images were taken.
It’s a wonderful discovery tool, and with 80 million users sharing, there are photographic riches to gawk at.
Pic Stitch (iPhone)
Pic Stich also could be considered a novelty. But you can use it to create attractive photo collages by grouping multiple images into a framed photo and share them on social networks.
There are 32 photo layouts to choose from, and framed photo collections are easy to create. You can double-tap a frame to select, tap an image to edit it, and shake your iPhone or iPad to wipe out what you’ve done and start over. Editing tools run the gamut, although they aren’t particularly sophisticated.
As with Adobe Photoshop Express, Pic Stitch pitches add-ons: Borders Add-on and Nostalgia Effects are 99 cents each. You can send framed collections to Walgreens for printing, although image sizes are limited.
Postal Pix (iPhone)
Postal Pix is all about making prints of your pictures, and that makes it seem a tad old school.
But if you want to hold a glossy image in your hand, Postal Pix is fairly easy to use. You select images, pick their sizes and add features such as “1-millimeter-thick high-grade aluminum with a glossy, scratch-resistant surface.” Three 5x7 prints with no extras cost $2.67 and take two to seven business days to arrive, Postal Pix says.
There’s no Facebook or Twitter registration feature, and it’s clunky to type your name and address on an iPhone to get started. You can’t upload images from photo-sharing sites without transferring them to your Photo Stream or iPhone.
© Copyright 2012 USA TODAY, a division of Gannett Co. Inc., Dennis Schaal, special for USA TODAY.