The iPad can do some amazing things, from getting you organized to keeping you entertained. It may already be a cliché, but there truly is “an app for that” — the problem now is finding the right app for the job.
Over the last three weeks, I have reviewed a large number of photography apps for the iPad. Now it’s time to highlight my favorites so you can easily edit, enhance, and share your photos with all of your friends and family.
4 Best Photo Editing iPad Apps
For the simple stuff, such as cropping or straightening your photos, the Crop Suey HD app for iPad ($1.99) is your best bet. It only does a few things, but it does those things very well. If you need only the most basic of tools, Crop Suey is a good choice.
For average photo editing needs, I prefer the Photogene iPad app ($3.99). You won’t find anything too fancy here; everything just works and works well. The controls are easy to use and you can fix just about any common photo problem. As I said in my original review, if you can only afford one photo editing app, get Photogene. It hits the sweet spot in the middle of features, ease of use, and affordable price.
For more advanced photo editing needs, including filters and more precision control, there’s a tie. Both Filterstorm and PhotoFX Ultra are true powerhouse editing apps, but they each have a different focus and a different way of working.
Filterstorm ($2.99) offers more precise control, allowing the use of masks for many of the editing and filter operations.
With Photo FX Ultra ($5.99), the focus is on achieving professional results fast through the use of a “point & click” methodology. You are offered a menu of choices and once you pick a filter you see several instances of that filter being used on your photo, each with different settings. Choosing what you like is as simple as tapping on the closest example, which means that you get predictable results every time.
3 Best Photo Effects iPad Apps
This is a tough category in which to pick favorites, mainly because there are so many options out there. I’ve chosen the three that I like the best based on a few criteria, mainly ease of use and quality of results. If you’re a Photoshop genius or have unlimited time on your hands, you can get good results using almost any app. But if you want good results fast, these three apps are my top picks.
The Color Splash iPad app ($1.99) allows you to turn your photos into black and white masterpieces with just a touch of color highlighting the main subject. The short tutorial explains everything you need to know, the controls are easy and intuitive, and the results you can achieve speak for themselves. All of a sudden those ho-hum shots can be transformed into something magical.
OutColor ($1.99) is the app you need for cool 3D effects. It requires some work — pick the best photo, paint the outlines of what you want to highlight and then get the shadows just right — but the results are top-notch. If you like the idea of creating eye-popping 3D effects, OutColor is the best iPad app I’ve found for that purpose.
SketchMee ($4.99 plus $9.99 in-app purchase for PDF exports) is the priciest iPad app in the bunch, but it’s also the most unique. Being able to turn your photos into sketches and paintings is delightful and the results are extremely impressive. The options are simple but give you a great deal of control over the results, from line density and color opacity to the type of paper and materials to be used. In this case you definitely get what you pay for and the results are truly spectacular.
5 Best Photo Sharing iPad Apps
Photos only come to life when they are shared with others. You’d think that would be easier these days with all of the options digital photography provides (no more waiting your prints to come back from the lab!), but having all those options can make things more challenging instead of easier. No matter whether you want to share printed memories or email your photos, these apps have your photo sharing and organization needs covered.
If you want to share photos with your grandparents or any other non-Web-connected souls, the Bill Atkinson Photocard app for iPad ($4.99) is a wonderful choice. Whether you’re using the beautiful nature photos included with the app or your own shots, you can design your own postcards, complete with your thoughts and reflections. Then you can email them or have them professionally printed and mailed to the recipients you choose. The first option is included in the purchase price of the app while the second has some small postage fees attached.
If you’re the old-fashioned type who likes to use bulletin boards and cork boards to share your photos, then Moodboad Pro ($6.99) is the app for you. You can add photos, text, and web clippings to your virtual bulletin board to create a more engaging display of your vacation memories, for example, and then upload the finished board to Facebook or share them via email. It’s a little different from some of the other photo display apps currently available, but it works well and you may find yourself using it for other purposes as well. It’s flexible enough that it can work well for visual thinkers and creative types who like to plan out their projects with photos and charts instead of calendars and emails.
There are two picks in the collages category. Diptic ($1.99) is the best iPad app for the straitlaced, because it requires you to fill in one of the 19 included templates in order to create your collage. It works great, and it’s the perfect choice if you’re the type who likes to color in the lines. If you’re more of a scribbler at heart, you may want to choose Photo Wall ($1.99) since it provides more freedom in creating your collages, including a shake feature if you want to create a random layout from the photos you’ve already added to the collage.
For photo organization, you can’t go wrong with Sort Shots ($4.99). It brings the power of tagging to your photo collection; once you get everything set up you’ll be able to find exactly what you’re looking for in just a couple of taps. I highly recommend this app to anyone trying to get their photos organized.