Selecting just eight great imaging apps from the 73,000 apps that are currently offered in the Google Play and Apple iTunes stores is a daunting task. There are many, many more photo apps that are remarkable or worth highlighting besides the ones I’m describing here. But the apps that made it to the final eight have one thing in common. They all address pressing consumer needs in new and innovative ways.
Here they are, in no particular order.
If photos are all about retaining and sharing experiences, why are 99.9% of them limited to just visuals, especially with so many now taken with devices that record sound and store lots of music files? This was the impetus for Shuttersong. The iOS app’s motto is “Your Photos Never Sounded So Good.”
The app lets users capture a photo and record their voice or the surrounding sound along with the photo. Alternatively, they can add music and—the real goal of this app—share the sound-enriched photos. They can be shared through e-mail, text, social networks and also the Shuttersong site. Recipients can tap on photos to see which music is embedded. Additionally, they can share their own music files with fans on the Shuttersong community site, so others can embed this music with their photos. shuttersong.com
Photos tell stories, so it’s no surprise there’s no shortage of photo story apps. The MyAlbum iOS app is part of a multi-platform offering built on the concept that photos are an integral part, but not necessarily the only component, of stories that capture or share someone’s important moments. MyAlbum first and foremost organizes a user’s photos and videos through automated algorithms. It then enables users to add other story components to it. These can include text, weather info or a map. They can also add information about the points of interest near where the photos were taken. The app also offers ways for users to collaborate on albums (e.g., a shared vacation story) so that these become shared visual stories. myalbum.com
Canvsly is a family-oriented app. It’s labeled as the “guilt-free and clutter-free way to save your kids’ artwork.”
This app is targeted to those among us whose garages are stacked with boxes of children’s artwork, posing both physical and psychological challenges to ever again enjoy viewing those artistic creations. The app lets parents take photos of a child’s artwork and organize these through a timeline as well as through custom albums. Needless to say, as the artwork is now digitized, it can also be shared with remote family members. They, in turn, can order photo print products from specific artwork. canvsly.com
A bit broader-oriented family photo app, Keepy also serves additional use cases related to saving, organizing and sharing kids’ memories. These memories could be digitized versions of artwork or schoolwork, or children’s photos and videos taken with one’s smartphone. Parents can instantly organize their visual memories by child and by age, even adding a voice recording. They can share photos privately (think grandma and grandpa), receive written, audio or video responses, and order printed photo gifts. With this kids-centric approach, Keepy enables parents or their selected friends and family to view photos of their children as they get older through a visual timeline. keepy.me
Struggling to find the best makeup to match your skin colors? Well, there is a photo app for that, and a popular one, too. Users can simply take a selfie and this beauty app extracts the colors from the photo to find their Color Signature. It then offers perfect makeup matches. Buying face, eye and lip products is then just a click away. If more guidance is needed, there is also beauTV. This optional add-on to the app provides users with makeup tutorials by popular beauty bloggers. plumperfect.com
Most of us are drowning in a never-ending flood of photos, but a whole new generation of “Photos at Your Fingertips” solutions is coming to the rescue. In that category fits JustVisual, maker of several photo-matching apps and the winner of Suite 48 Analytics’ recent Mobile Photo Connect Awards. The JustVisual apps provide direct image-to-image comparisons, allowing users to find similar photos as well as corresponding e-commerce or other informational links. With LikeThat Pets, consumers can take a photo of a pet they like and then find similar pets that are available for adoption, served by data from a nationwide adoption database. justvisual.com
With more than 250 million downloads and over 65 million monthly active users, PicsArt is among the most popular photo apps. PicsArt offers the user a slew of creative tools to take, enhance, combine and share their photos. These include tools to edit one’s photos, create collages and add drawings, paintings or sketches to the photos. PicsArt also provides opportunities to learn from fellow PicsArt community members and to discover other creative visuals. PicsArt’s mission is to enable anyone with a smartphone to express themselves creatively. It also encourages them to connect with others through image sharing, art contests and collaborative editing features. picsart.com
In the increasingly crowded space of photo print creation apps, Nowvel stands out. It enables users to easily create gorgeous photo books on a smartphone. And it also lets them order those books. At a quite reasonable price ($20), too. What do you get? A vertical (portrait mode) 8×4-inch book that folds out through “lay-flat” binding into a square 8×8-inch book. The book is printed on superthick, stiff paper stock. Creating the photo books is straightforward. The app uses the iPhone camera roll, Instagram or a user’s Facebook photos to automatically curate photo albums that can then be customized with a few simple taps to create photo books to share digitally or order as printed books. nowvel.com
Hans Hartman is president of Suite 48 Analytics, a leading research and analysis firm for the mobile photography market. He also chairs Mobile Photo Connect, an annual executive conference focused on promoting innovation and partnerships in the mobile photography ecosystem.