Fancy yourself a smartphone photographer? Not without these apps, you don't. The camera on your phone is impressive for its size, definitely, but it's the supplementary apps that let you add filters, change the contrast, share, crop, print, and more that turn your vacation snaps into pure visual poetry.
1. Pixuru (Free)
Why We Like It: This just-launched service is the quickest, coolest way to turn your favorite pics into wall-worthy art. In addition to ready-to-hang matted and framed paper prints, you can order your masterpieces printed right onto canvas, wood, or metal, in sizes ranging from 6x6 to 30x40. Think smaller, by creating an iPhone case or iPad cover. Or think bigger, splitting single images into a multiple panel set—great for that sweet panorama. Prior to printing, each image is personally inspected for quality. Products start at $20 and they offer free shipping.
Availability: iOS and Web, coming to Android next month.
2. Wood Camera ($1)
Why We Like It: Designed by professional photographers, this vintage photo editor lets you snap shots from within the app using its 32 live lenses. Next, choose to layer any of its 28 textures and 16 frames. Along with color, sharpness, saturation, and other adjustments, you'll have literally thousands of possibilities to unleash your inner artiste. Then share your photos on your social feeds. With this much personality and control, it's interesting to see the contrast between what you and your travelmates can create from the very same vistas.
3. Carbonite (Free)
Why We Like It: First, this cloud-based app automatically backs up your phone or tablet's photos and videos. Then you can browse, view, and share your stored images from any Internet-connected device. But this app also features several handy security tools. If you think your phone's somewhere nearby, it can sound your ringer—even if the phone's set to mute or vibrate. Maybe not so nearby? Use it to locate your device on a map. Think it might've fallen into the wrong hands? Remotely lock your screen, destroy your personal data, and/or capture a picture of the person who has your phone. Hey, if this app doesn't give you peace of mind about your device and photos, nothing will.
Availability: Android, Blackberry, iOS, Web.
4. Photo Editor by Aviary(Free)
Why We Like It: This editor extraordinaire offers tons of tools to add fancy enhancements, effects, and all sorts of flair on the fly. Resize, reposition, and crop; add drawings, text, stickers, filters, and frames; correct redeye and blemishes; defocus the background around an adjustable shape; give a specific splash of color; or try one of several one-tap auto-correctors. Best of all, this highly customizable app is available in dozens of local languages, from Bulgarian to Vietnamese.
Availability: Android, iOS, Web, Windows Phone.
5. Eye-Fi (Free)
Why We Like It: With an Eye-Fi memory card in your camera and this app installed on your smartphone or tablet, you can wirelessly upload full-resolution images directly (without needing to find a router or hotspot signal) from your camera to your mobile device. Regardless of that functionality, you can select specific shots to share from your mobile device to your online photo feeds. You can also have the app automatically back up and organize your photos and videos (whether taken with your camera or mobile device) and upload them to a folder on your Mac or PC.
Availability: Android, iOS, Web.
6. PhotoShop Touch ($5, phone; $10 tablet)
Why We Like It: This mobile version of the popular desktop program lets you make precise adjustments to the characteristics and elements within specific selected layers and areas. Enhance the inherent image quality. Add professional effects (shadows, blurs, and fades). Even combine (parts of) multiple images, or use your device's camera to create a cool fill. Best yet, you can finagle your photo on a phone and/or fidget with it on a tablet, then finish the project on your desktop.
Availability: Android, iOS, Web.
7. Photolettering (Free)
Why We Like It: This typographical app is a veritable font of fonts that turns your digital pics into savable, sharable, printable postcards. Add to your stable of original typefaces (it comes with three) at a buck a pop or $10 for the whole collection (of 20+). Place, rotate, color, and scale the text as you like. It works with both new and existing photos.
8. Camera+ ($1)
Why We Like It: As its name suggests, this app takes your iPhone's or iPad's native camera to the next level. Separate touch controls let you adjust the focus and exposure independently. The timer and burst functions make sure you capture what you want, when you want. The stabilizer, continuous flash, and digital zoom take real-world conditions into account. Other nice touches include a slew of scene modes, effects, borders, captions, and additional advanced editing. (Some features only available on the iPad version.) And Clarity, the app's one-touch wonder feature, processes your shots to make them look better than just 'pretty good, for a cellphone.' At the end of the day, this app can also help you manage your photos, see fine-grained details about when/where they were shot and what effects were applied, and share your masterpieces with friends and family.
Award-winning Fodors.com Travel Technology Columnist Scott Tharler is an expert in gadgets, gambling, and travel. He's written four books, hundreds of mobile and wireless tips, and dozens of freelance articles. Find links to other gadget articles, social feeds and lists of his current favorite gadgets at about.me/gadgetfans.
Photo Credits: 1. Aviary; 2. Camplus; 3. Carbonite; 4. Eyefi; 5. Photolettering; 6. Pixuru; 7. Pstouch; 8. Woodcam tiltshift