iPhone 4S CameraCameraphones mean most modern people are uploading more digital images than the average space probe, but from much less interesting places. And while absolute accuracy is a good thing for science, it’s not always so awesome when you’re giving the entire Internet a look into your house, dorm-room, or any other place you didn’t realize had a mirror in the background when you really should have been wearing pants.

That’s why you need a way to edit photos fast and image editing apps are plentiful.

The strength of digital cameras is that you can fire off 50 fast shots instead of spending an hour of setting up one perfect shot. But even with this optical machine gun, you don’t always get it quite right. Simple fixes like centering, cropping, red-eye reduction, and brightness can make the difference between an awkward image and a treasured memory.

Also, sometimes your shot simply isn’t interesting enough on its own. (It’s not like you’re going to Mars.) While we’d recommend that you resist the urge to upload a shot instead of “improving” it, other times the addition of a bit of text or a texture can turn it into something worthwhile. Of course there’s always Intsagram, but it’s so standard that the filters have become brand new clichés. When someone sees your shots, you don’t want their first thought to be about how they recognize the software instead of the people. And that’s why we’re looking at four more image editing apps that you should consider.

Photoshop Express

Adobe is synonymous with serious (and seriously expensive) image processing apps. Photoshop CS6 costs seven hundred dollars, and is so essential that many companies rent it instead. So why is Photoshop free on your phone? Because they know that there’s a whole new generation of image editing on the rise, and they want you to like their brand of image editing apps. Photoshop Express offers a selection of their advanced filter tools for free. Best of all, each use automatically saves an unedited original, then uses a simple slider so you can preview your changes before uploading the improved image.

Adobe Photoshop Express Screen

Adobe Photoshop Express

Tools like crop and straighten fix up poor aim; exposure, saturation, and reduce noise clean up the environment; and a whole host of more editing and filtering options make your photos even more interesting. Further filters can be bought online, but the basic app includes an array of useful options for free.

iTunes Store: (free)

iRetouch

iRetouch comes with the usual selection of tools, but it’s all about the eponymous retouching. Reality just isn’t as good as you’d like, especially when you’re about to share it with everyone else on the planet. iRetouch lets you clean up those inconvenient details instead of deleting the photo. Blur and focus options let you obscure things you’d rather people couldn’t read — or make it seem like they’re out of focus by accident — but the Clone Stamp is where the real power lies. Simply erase things from existence.

iRetouch App Example

iRetouch App

Don’t get too clone happy, but a few fine adjustments can make the difference between embarrassment and excellence. Trying to make everything perfect only makes it obvious that you’re trying. The app loads more slowly than some other software, but it’s focused on one very important detail – to let you do the same.

iTunes Store: (free) (v2.0 $3.99)

Phonto

Text-on-image is the fastest way to share a simple thought, scene, or moment with friends not lucky enough to be there. Customized images are a step up from simple text messages. If e-mail upgrades stamps and letters, these are the fast and fun postcards.

Phonto App Example

Phonto App

It’s a no-frills, no-cost app which lets you write on the picture you just took to taunt anyone who didn’t make it to your event. The Internet has done its level best to kill the idea of the image macro, running it into the ground like someone testing sledgehammers on dead horses, but you’ll beat that by using original images, fresh phrases, and – most importantly – doing the opposite of memes by actually going out and doing things.

iTunes Store: (free)

Snapseed

Everything else has been free, but we always look out for people who make a professional effort. Because we look at their photos more than anyone else’s. Snapseed is the definition of a professional (they want to be paid), but it’s well worth a few dollars to permanently improve every mobile image you ever take. Fast tuning and previews fix the basic balance and framing issues afflicting everyone in the world, but it’s the more sophisticated controls which really shine. Or age, or blur, or whatever else you want to do with your images.

Snapseed Image Editing App Example

Snapseed Image Editing App

Intuitive controls combined with a fast response lets you really edit your photos, instead of fiddling with little sliders and swearing at how hard things are without a mouse. Aiming and sliding crosshairs feels more like you’re targeting a laser cannon than editing a photo, and with more striking results. Because when taking photos has become as simple as point and shoot, fixing them should be just as easy.

iTunes Store: ($4.99)

Image credit: groovenite / Flickr

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