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Looking to step up your photo game? We’re got you covered. Reflecting on pictures we’ve seen with the most likes, shares, and retweets, we put together a list of the best apps that will make your pictures look their best. Photo bombers, “low-quality” phone pics and preset Instagram filters are behind us. Your photo game deserves to be on point.


1. After Focus – $0.99

Some of us don’t have professional cameras that autofocus our images. Well, now you can get that same professional-level-type look for your iPhone or Droid pictures. The After Focus app is great for emphasizing your pictures that have a defined focal point, like the ice cream cone pictured above.

I took step-by-step screenshots to show you how quick and easy it is:


The first question you will be prompted with is whether or not you want to use a “smart” or “manual” technique for your focus area. I personally chose manual because I wanted to make sure that I would have the most precise outcome.

In the bottom left corner of the editing screen, you can decide whether you want to highlight what you want to focus on or what you want to blur out. I chose “focus” and highlighted the ice cream cone because it was just easier. Use your finger to shade your areas and you can also zoom in or out with both fingers to shade smaller areas.

Then you press the > button which will take you to a preview of the final product where you can either save your image to your camera roll or directly post it to Instagram.

If you accidentally blur too much of your image or make a mistake, the < button will take you to the previous screen with your shaded areas. The first time I used the app, I shaded the background and selected focus, so my ice cream cone ended up being blurry in my preview. The app has an “autocorrect” feature where you can double tap on the ice cream cone and it will switch the cone from blurry to focused.

apps to upgrade your phone 2. TouchRetouch – $1.99

Let’s be real, it’s 2016 and it’s time that those annoying photo bombers are gone for good. The best way to describe TouchRetouch is by comparing it to the magic eraser – but in app form. It flawlessly removes background noise from any picture. The best part about this app is that you can’t tell that the background noise was ever there after you’re done editing your photo.

The app is straightforward with one universal toolbar at the bottom of the screen. It made my pictures look stunning and was so quick and easy to use.

Here are some screenshots of how I used the app:

TouchRetouch App Photo Steps

When you open the app, it will ask you to choose an existing photo or take a new photo to edit.

Then it will bring you to the screen with a toolbar on the bottom. If you want to remove objects from your photo, you have to first select the “paintbrush” from the toolbar and shade the areas that you want gone with your finger. These areas will appear in red and you can use your fingers to zoom in closer to make your marks more precise (just like the After Focus app).

When you are ready to remove those red areas, select “start” and the app will automatically digitalize your photo as if the background objects were never there.

Lastly, “save” your image to your camera roll or directly upload it to Instagram.

Other Toolbar Features:

The “lasso” tool is useful if you are removing a group of objects because you can outline around all of them with your finger and it will fill in that area with red.

There is an “eraser” tool that you can use to erase red areas that were made by mistake. Similarly to the paintbrush tool, you can adjust the size of the eraser tool to be as large or as small as you like.

The “grab” tool is an extra precaution to prevent you from drawing accidental red areas while you are navigating around your image.

The “stamp” tool is a great effect if you want to add extra elements or clones to your photo.


3. Lens Distortions – FREE!

You know those beautiful travel photos that you always see that make you want to pack up and move there right now? Well now there’s an app to make all of your pictures look just as breathtaking. Lens Distortions is free and allows you to add elements like fog or beams of light to your pictures.

There are 4 types of edits you can use with this app; light hits, fog, shimmer and legacy. You can select your edit then adjust it in size, color, opacity and much more with their built in editing options.

Lens Distortions App Photo Steps

Because it was free, I was curious to see how the $2.99 “light hits” expansion pack compared to the basic, free features. Honestly, the expansion pack did have some cool bonus edits but I didn’t use any of them while I was editing my pictures. The free effects were similar to the expansion effects and that’s why I decided to not purchase the other 3 expansion packs.

For the edit I did in the photo above, I chose a beam of light effect and moved it to the corner with my finger. I resized it with my fingers until it was big enough to fill the corner space that I wanted to enhance. The edit gave my photo more of a “sunrise on the boat” type of feel versus just a plain picture of the water.


4. Studio – FREE!

Overlaying words on your pictures can be trendy… If you do it right. Studio was recommended continuously throughout 2015 by bloggers on a variety of social media platforms as one of their “favorite text apps.” This app is your one-stop-shop for all kinds of typeface and font pairing inspiration.

Studio is essentially the Instagram for typeface and basic graphic design so every day there are new font and graphic templates that you can “remix” for your own picture. You can also follow your friends’ Studio accounts and “collaborate” on a piece together.


What I love about this app is the amount of variety you have with fonts, colors and design. My favorite part about this app is the ability to “remix” pre-created photo designs and add your own spin to it.

If you’re scrolling through their “trending” feed and you see a design that you like, you can click the “remix” button and adjust the pre-made layers, add your own pictures and change the text to your liking (pictured above).

Unlike the previous apps, this is still a user friendly app but is more complex because of the amount of customization you have control over while editing. I didn’t change much of my “remix” (pictured above) because my photo fit almost perfectly in the template.

Using and editing the layers require some practice and time in order to get your image perfect. The end result is definitely worth the extra effort and time.


5. Afterlight – $0.99

Instagram filters are so 2012. This has been my favorite filtering app for the past few years because of how many options it gives me. Afterlight has a plethora of preset filters to choose from and you can adjust them up to 100% opacity depending on how much of the edit you want your picture to have.

You can also manually enhance your pictures by adjusting sharpness, contrast, saturation, shadows and much more. Another cool feature on this app are “light leaks” and “dusty” which are free effects that add light streaks or glitter-like effects to your pictures.

Afterlight App Photo Effect

For my edit, I decided to do a basic edit and nothing too crazy. Their preset filters are great and I usually don’t like to filter them to 100% opacity because then it looks heavily edited and takes away from the picture as a whole.

I didn’t manually adjust any elements (like the brightness/contrast settings) because the Afterlight preset was enough of an impact for my liking. If you look at the before and after version of my picture, you can instantly tell how much of a difference Afterlight makes.

Over the couple of years that I’ve used Afterlight, I have purchased some of the optional filter packs and I think that the paid packs are very similar the free ones. They have different filters that give somewhat of a different edit but if you find a free preset that you like in Afterlight, you shouldn’t need to buy the filter packs.

With these apps, your social media feed to be the envy of all your friends and followers. Now that you’re equipped with the 5 best editing apps, there’s nothing to stop you.

What apps do you use to edit your pictures?

The Author

Tori Tippin

Tori Tippin

Contributing Writer for Fracture. HGTV and The Office enthusiast. Celebrating 6 years of Starbucks Gold Member status.