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Picture perfect, an app away

Had you uttered the term ‘image editing’ some years ago, most people would have associated it with complicated yet powerful software like PhotoShop or PaintShop Pro (which also costs a bomb).

Circa 2012. Image editing enters the mainstream, thanks to apps that let you edit and tweak images on your phones and tablets. Welcome to the filter and special effects revolution that has made adding effects and special formatting — be it tints, frames or even cartoon-like overlays — to an image easy.

With the right app, you could take a picture, tweak it, and share it in seconds, without switching your computer on. And it doesn’t cost a penny.  So, keep these in mind when you click your next big picture.  


Instagram (iOS and Android)

For many, Instagram is the app which made filters a rage, allowing users to give their pictures a retro look by placing a filter over them. It owes its popularity to the sheer quality of its filters that transport an image to another era, wherein cameras did not render images in bright colour. It is utterly easy to use, too. Other apps may have more filters, but few have ones that make images look as unique as Instagram.
Get it from: iTunes App Store, Google Play


Pixlr-o-matic (iOS and Android)

Grab any picture and transform it using dozens of options — a host of filters to effects which throw in flashes of light and add bubble-like elements to frames that could make your image look straight out of an art gallery or out of a Polaroid camera. It takes some patience to understand which filter does what (with names like Hagrid, that’s hardly surprising), but once you get a grip on it, this is perhaps the best free image-tweaking tool around.
Get it from: iTunes App Store, Google Play


Cartoon Camera (Android)

Imagine an app which not only converts photographs into pictures which seem to have been produced by daubs of paint and pencil work, but even gives you a preview before you click them? That’s Cartoon Camera for you. Watercolour and sketch lovers will adore this app and its ability to transform photos into works of art, albeit relatively amateur ones. There’s a paid version of the app as well, but the free one does more than enough, if you do not mind the ad banners on the bottom of your screen.
Get it from: Google Play


Photorim (Symbian
)
Cynics might say that Symbian’s day is over in the mobile OS wars but the platform supports some of the best camera phones in the world today (the Nokia N8 and PureView for instance). You can add a stack of filters and effects on the device itself. The interface could have been better — you end up with your screen cluttered with different filter options. Yet it is one of the best free options for those on Symbian devices.
Get it from: Nokia Ovi Store


Adobe PhotoShop Express (iOS and Android)

You didn’t expect Adobe to be left behind in the image editing revolution, did you? PhotoShop Express, Adobe’s mobile app, comes with a set of quite attractive filters and borders letting you change the look and feel of your images. Since this is a version of PhotoShop, you can indulge in more ‘traditional’ images, playing around with exposure, colour levels and focus. Talk of having the best of both worlds in one free app, which works a treat.
Get it from: iTunes App Store, Google Play


Photofunia (iOS, Android, Symbian, Windows Phone and BlackBerry)

When it comes to tweaking images, few free apps pack as much punch as Photofunia, which is also one of the few apps to work on just about every smartphone. It lets you add filters to your pictures, add frames and place it against backdrops of, say, billboards or as a tattoo. It is not perfect, though — it cannot access your camera’s gallery directly on some devices and it is largely cloud-based, so loading screens takes time.
Get it from: iTunes App Store, Google Play, Nokia Ovi Store, BlackBerry World, Windows MarketPlace


Flickr (Android)

There was a time when Flickr was considered to be THE place to go to for sharing pictures. Then, along came Facebook and Instagram, and the world changed. However, Flickr remains a favourite among many users and while most of its mobile avatars restrict themselves to letting you upload and view pictures to the Flickr site, the Android app comes with a very handy set of filters, letting you tweak your image before sharing it. We just wish it worked a tad faster in filter mode, though.
Get it from: Google Play 

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