Best Photo Editing Software and Apps 2017

Product Use case Rating
Best Overall Photo-Editing App PicsArt 9
Best for Serious Photographers Snapseed 9
Best Photo-Sharing App Instagram 8
Best Photo-Messaging App Snapchat 9
Best Portrait App for iOS Facetune 2 8
Best Backup App Google Photos 9

Best Photo Editing Apps (iOS and Android)

If you’re as snap-happy as other smartphone users, undoubtedly your phone is filled with thousands of photos and videos. But taking pictures is only half the fun; the best part is editing and then sharing them with friends and family — or complete strangers, for that matter. But what apps are best for making your photos look great and disseminating them to the world?

We selected 12 popular photo apps, and after testing and analyzing all of them, we selected the following six as the best in their category.

Best Overall Photo-Editing App: PicsArt (iOS/Android)

Best for Serious Photographers: Snapseed (iOS/Android)

Best Photo-Sharing App: Instagram (iOS, Android)

Best Photo-Messaging App: Snapchat (iOS/Android)

Best Portrait App for iOS: Facetune 2 (iOS only)

Best Backup App: Google Photos (iOS/Android)

How We Tested

The 12 apps represented a wide range of focus and purpose. So, when we developed our test scripts, we made sure that we judged and rated each app based on its own strengths and weaknesses, as they relate to what the app is meant to do.

All apps were tested for:

  • Quality and accessibility of the interface.
  • Ease of use.
  • Number and quality of features.
  • Ease and versatility of sharing.
  • How well it achieves its stated purpose (such as photo editing or backing up).

Other aspects that we selectively tested, depending on the app, are:

  • Versatility of photo import.
  • Versatility of camera module.
  • Photo-editing capabilities, versatility and ease of use.
  • Ease of use, power, flexibility and fun of collaging tools and other projects.

What Didn’t Make the Cut

Here are our findings on the apps that we didn’t choose as best in their category.

Adobe Photoshop Express reflects its heritage in high-quality photo editing. However, on the mobile side of things, PicsArt offers more versatility for the consumer, and Snapseed is far more powerful and flexible for serious photographers.

Facebook Stories is currently only an underpowered add-on module to a well-established general sharing app.

Fotor is an excellent photo editor for serious photographers, but Snapseed sets a high standard that is difficult to beat.

Pixlr is a powerful photo editor with nice collaging tools. However, PicsArt’s collage is more flexible and versatile, and Snapseed is a more intuitive and responsive editor.

Prisma is a one-trick pony: applying art styles to photos. PicsArt’s Magic Effects, which does the same thing, provides more creative control.

VSCO X is a new paid version of VSCO Camera that’s costly ($19.95 a year) without adding enough value to justify the cost. The company plans to turn it into an educational platform for photography and imaging, and when they have more lessons online, we'll take another look at it to see if it makes the cut.

Everyone Copycats

The field of photo-related apps is very crowded and competitive. So when one app comes up with a popular feature, others quickly jump on the bandwagon. For example, Snapchat’s success with its highly personal photo and video messages that quickly disappear has generated copycats. 

Instagram and Facebook’s app (both owned by the same company) have recently introduced modules that are direct rip-offs of Snapchat. PicsArt’s Remix photo- collaborating feature was also undoubtedly influenced by Snapchat. But then Snapchat itself now has New World Lenses (such as animated cartoon seeds that sprout flowers that can be added to photos) that are similar to Pokemon Go’s 3D augmented reality (AR).

Facebook has announced  it plans to make its apps’ cameras the centerpiece of its software. In addition, it is developing what it claims will be more powerful and diverse use of 3D augmented reality. We’ll keep an eye on this space to report how this affects our Best Of choices. For the time being, given Facebook’s reputation for invasive advertising (which we expect will invade their AR worlds, too), Snapchat may still have an edge by keeping things personal.

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  • zer0c00l587
    The average user only needs GIMP, unless you're photographer, the rest is a waste of money in my opinion, long as the camera is good and you know hot to take shot, those programs is for when you do not know how.
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  • Michaelfx
    Thank you!
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  • Kora C
    Great list! I personally would add the app Deep Art Effects. Cool art style filters and a lot of fun!!
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  • STSinNYC
    Nice article. Affinity looks interesting. Nikon shooters can get two free editing programs from Nikon, View NX-i and Capture NX-D. View is easy to learn, has essential tools for editing RAW, esp. White Balance and Exposure, and then convert to TIFF or JPEG for further editing. Capture NX-D has more features but also not hard to learn. I am a working photographer, advertising and events, I do nearly all of my RAW (NEF) work in these two programs.
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