The Best Picture Show: The Best Photo Apps

Apps designed to create eye-popping photos on the go

A picture may be worth a thousand words. But in the social media age, a photo artfully enhanced by a great app might be worth just a smidgen more.

Creativity is the most valuable currency on photo-based social sites such as Instagram, Pinterest, and Facebook; the more eye-catching your posts, the more followers you’re likely to have. Smart marketers offer their followers a never-ending flow of beautiful images—built for sharing or simply for making a strong impression. Consequently, competition for consumer eyeballs online has never been more cutthroat.

Luckily, keeping up with online trends is almost always as easy as staying abreast of the latest mobile apps. These tools can turn plain-Jane feeds into screen-bound art galleries. Below, a few hardworking image manipulators ready to jazz up your social snaps.

Pocket Designers

Collages and multiphoto formats are red-hot in social media right now. Just in time, Instagram has debuted Layout From Instagram ­(blog.­; iOS only, free), a collage-making app that lets users mash up multiple photos into a single image. The app comes loaded with preset layouts and walks you through the dragging, dropping, and pinching required to choose, sort, and edit images.… ­Feeling extra artsy? Check out Fragment ­(fragmentapp.comiOS and Android, $1.99), which makes images by layering geometric-shape slices of photos to create tiny, trippy works of art—great for adding interest to straight-up product pics.… Color Splash ­(; iOS only, $1.99) turns your photos into black and white images, but gives you the option of picking one element to remain in full color. You can edit that color, brightening and lightening as you see fit. The effects can be dramatic—perfect for showcasing jewelry. Picture a ­gemstone-laden necklace popping off the screen in full color against a black-and-white background. Options abound.

Image Movers

Join the GIF craze with Phhhoto (; iOS and Android, free), an app that lets users create GIFs by taking four photos (say, of a diamond ring revolving slowly) in direct succession. The app strings them together to form a GIF (which stands for graphics interchange format) that you can share instantly on Instagram and other social sites.… Make simple, shareable GIFs, videos, and stop-motion videos with GifBoom (; iOS only, free), an easy-to-use, fast app; to get started, just create an account.… Download GifShare (; iOS only, free) to search for and add pre­existing GIFs to your social feeds.

Type Cast

Word Swag (; iOS only, $3.99) makes putting type over images painless. Pick the typeface, color, transparency, and brightness of the text by cycling through existing options. The app also offers stand-alone patterns for type-only creations.… Enlight ­(; iOS only, $3.99) lets you combine images and cut and paste photos to create clever designs, then layer them with words and messages in stylish fonts.… Add charming doodles and words to your pictures with A Beautiful Mess (; iOS and Android, 99 cents). Get witty with cartoon-style word bubbles and photos cut into pretty shapes.