Instagram is great, but even though the app keeps rolling out new features like tagging and a desktop feed, they’ve kept the amount of filters and photo-editing tricks you can use at a stand-still for awhile now. If you’re bored of the filters and effects or just want a way to spice up your images, you can always download other apps to add an extra kick to your shots before uploading photos to the Instagram feed. Here are some great choices if you want to fiddle around with your images.
A Beautiful Mess ($1.00)
The newest, hippest photo-editing app on the market, A Beautiful Mess is for the ladies, and it sprang from the popular lifestyle blog by the same name. What does A Beautiful Mess: the App offer that makes it stand out from other editing software and complement Instagram? It offers trendy pre-drawn doodles to overlay on your photos, and it provides backgrounds if you want to take a picture of a product but you don’t have something snazzy enough to lay it against.
It’s definitely more of a whimsical, girly photo kit, so it’s not for everyone, but for $1.00, just stop complaining. The caveat? It only works with iOS 6 and up, so you have to be up-to-date and on Apple if you want to use it – and a lot of the features cost extra money.
Afterlight used to be called Afterglow, but even though the name changed, the app’s quality didn’t. You get 39 filters, including 13 chosen by Instagram users, and 45 textures to add even more nuance to your shots. It’s really interesting how different a shot can look depending on who is making adjustments, since there are a massive amount of filter and texture combinations to try.
Afterlight also includes 21 frames, and it makes it super-simple to share to Instagram. It’s well worth the $1.00 cost, especially since stuff like its highlight controls make it perfect for the little tweaks necessary to elevate a picture from good to great. Unfortunately, it’s only available for Apple kids, so if you’re using Instagram from an Android you can’t savor the sweet sweet editing options.
Pic Say Pro ($4.00)
OK, Android users, don’t hate on me just yet – Pic Say Pro is an Android-only photo-editing app that works wonders in sprucing your photos up until they’re so good you probably won’t need any extra editing on Instagram, though your friends will wonder how you took such a great shot. They may think you’re cheating. Pic Say Pro looks like it’s more of a cutesy novelty photo app, but underneath the stickers and the friendly exterior, you can actually do some serious tinkering. Even though the interface looks like a dumb ape could use it, what you can do is intense, since you can manually adjust saturation, tint, and other elements to totally customize your picture. Pic Say Pro is $4.00 on Android and well worth it.
Diptic is the best collage app for mobile phones, and you can get it for Android or Apple to help you put the coolest picture mashups on your Instagram account. You can choose from 179 different layouts on Apple and 56 on Android, and you can apply filters to your photos, as well as make adjustments to brightness and other elements.
You can’t get into as much detail fine-tuning as you can on something like Pic Say Pro, but Diptic’s appeal is really in its ingenious layout options. Plus, it’s just $1.00. Perfect for before-and-after shots or making a little digital tribute to a fun night out. And it’s hooked up with Instagram so you can import photos you take to Instagram, Diptic-ify them, and then seamlessly throw them back up on Instagram.
Before Instagram, everyone’s favorite photo app was Hipstamatic, which lets you play around with different retro digital lenses and films to create fun photos. It basically made your iPhone feel like an analog camera, which is like catnip to the nostalgic set. And no, they don’t sell it at Urban Outfitters.
Hipstamatic felt the wrath of Instagram because it wasn’t free and wasn’t a social network, but it’s still a decent way to jazz your photos up. The old-school camera aesthetic is interesting, and it makes you feel more creative than you are when you’re taking your shots, but beware: you have to pay extra for camera packs, and some of the older ones are no longer available, so that might happen again in the future – don’t get too attached to specific lenses. Hipstamatic is currently trying to re-invent itself with a new social photo-sharing app called Oggl, but it’s still invitation-only. And if you don’t really want to bother with paying for Hipstamatic but still like to look at the pictures, it now has a fleshed out blog – while A Beautiful Mess engineered itself into an app from a lifestyle blog, Hipstamatic pretty much went the other way ’round.
Next Page: Five more great Instagram Apps
360 Panorama ($1.00)
This app lets you make some pretty cool/unusual photos. Many phones these days come with the panoramic option standard, but this app does it differently. With 360 Panorama you can take a panoramic photo that go 360 degrees. The more interesting aspect of this app is the stereographic mode. In this mode the panorama is turned into a sort of bird’s-eye view of the scene, as if it is its own world that you are seeing from an outside perspective.
There are few image apps that can make your Instagram account more interesting than one that allows you to completely distort reality and this accomplishes that. This app is sold for 99 cents and totally worth it.
Who doesn’t love a good fisheye camera? This app lets you take fisheye photos that are pretty awesome. Whether you’re just getting ridiculous or you want a fisheye to enhance some perspective on your photo, InstaFishEye is a great app to accomplish your goals. It’s a free app and comes with four different versions of the fisheye lens for you to choose from. It also comes with dozens of lomo effects, cross process effects, push process effects, and other filters.
VSCO Cam (Free)
Many people are framing this as a replacement for Instagram, but it is not a social network like Instagram where you can like and comment on things. The #VSCOCAM community on Instagram is pretty large and seems to be evidence that this is simply going to be another photo app you can use with Instagram or just for yourself. VCSO Cam has a ton of filters that differ from what is available on Instagram and its own set of editing tools. This app was created by people that helped build the foundations of Adobe Lightroom and it’s clear they’re professionals. You can download it for free in your app store.
Retromatic is an app that essentially turns you into a 1950’s graphic designer. The app allows you to cut things out of photos you’ve taken and apply them to retro backgrounds. This is a pretty cool idea but can get a little old eventually. It’s a great app for making cool poster-like images now and then. This is by far the most expensive app on this last, at a whopping $1.99 (you might need to take out a mortgage). Call us hipsters for recommending this app, we don’t care. There are many apps that exist, and do more, that can accomplish this same thing but not as simply. If you want to make a retro-looking thing that’s kind of cool, we guess, then just download this damn it.
Phonto is a pretty simple app that does some pretty cool things. Basically, it allows you to add really nice looking text to your photos. There are over 50 fonts available and you can adjust the color, size, background color, and more. You can even download more fonts than come with the app originally. This app can be a one-stop meme creator or, preferably, an interesting way to bring more psychological depth to your photo. You can also use this app to just write something like: “Hey, look at this thing!” The fonts they have to choose from are really nice looking and there are so many ways to change them to your liking. With the amount of versatility this app allows, it is unlikely it will look like anything someone else has done. This app is available for free.
What do you think of our rundown of the best Instagram apps? Did we miss something? Let us know in the comments below.
Kate Knibbs contributed to this article.
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