Beyond Instagram: Photo Editing and Typography Apps

Examples of photo apps, with a focus on adding text and enhancing images with typography.

Last year, we shared some of our favorite photo apps and alternatives to Instagram. We’ve since discovered more photo apps, some free and some a few bucks each, as well as options focusing on specific effects (such as adding text and enhancing images with typography). Here are some options worth checking out.

General editing

Adobe Photoshop Express (iOS | Android | Windows — all free)

From the makers of Photoshop, this in-your-pocket version is an all-around solid app for general editing, filters, borders and frames (for the iOS version only), and easy touch-ups (cropping, straightening, rotating, removing red eye). You can also capture images right in the app, and share your mini-masterpieces across your social networks, too.

Photo Editor by Aviary (iOS | Android | Windows — all free)

Another free editing app, Aviary lets you add filters and frames, creative stickers, and more, and offers touch-up tools (red eye removal, blemish retouching, and even teeth whitening) to improve your pictures on the go.

Lomogram (Windows, free)

Want to share your life through lomo colors? A Windows alternative to Instagram, Lomogram has a mix of retro effects, borders (from polaroid to 35mm), scratches, light leaks/tweaks, auto-vignetting, and more. You can combine these effects to create a unique and oftentimes quirky image, all in the spirit of lomography and analog photography.

Text and typography

PicLab (PicLab HD) (iOS (free) | iOS HD, $1.99) | Android, free)

In the free versions of PicLab, you can add typography, filters, shapes, drop shadows, light tweaks, textures, borders, patterns, and more, as well as resize, rotate, and adjust the opacity of text.

These design additions are subtle but also effective, especially for bloggers interested in honing their personal brands and creating a unified design across their social networks. It’s a cool app to experiment with custom Image Widgets, too.

In the HD version, you can import your own custom graphics and logos to an image, as a fully editable layer.

Path On — Swipe to Type (iOS, $1.99)

You can create crazy, surreal images with Path On. Drawing lines with your finger, you manipulate decorative, bold fonts to add words, phrases, quotes, and lyrics. The app also offers simple shapes and effects (circle, square, spiral) to help you get started.

Ampergram (iOS, $.99 | Android, $.99)

Here, you create typographic compositions with photos from Instagram, using a system of tagging your images of letters using #ampergram and the letter or number in the image. Once you’ve tagged photos, you can use them to make words and typographic designs. (Read more about how it works.)

We’ll share more photo apps again soon. Do you use any photo apps not listed here? Share your favorites.

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      1. This post focuses mainly on photo/mobile apps for adding text/typography (and just a few general editing apps). GIMP does deserve more coverage, but not here — a few photographers had mentioned it in their Photography 101 posts, like Leanne’s editing post, and I think it can be revisited if/when we do more editing workflow posts on more comprehensive and powerful editing software.

        Thanks for your feedback.


      1. I searched for Lomography, but it didn’t show up. But I did find apps called LomoKino Maker and Lomoscanner run by Lomography. I’m not sure.

        Liked by 1 person

  1. I didn’t realize until I started reading your article that you were going to be focusing so heavily on portable device apps. I was hoping for some insight into typography programs for more traditional computing environments. I personally can’t stand trying to do things from a tablet or phone. I much prefer being able to sit comfortably and work from a computer when doing this kind of thing.

    I must agree with Meho regarding GIMP, but I do understand why you didn’t include it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. We often mention free editing programs like PicMonkey and Pixlr, both of which allow you to add text layers. Perhaps there’s enough for a roundup on more desktop photo editing programs. Thanks for the suggestion.


    1. I don’t use iPhoto so much on my laptop. I actually think the Preview tool on the Mac works pretty well — just open an image, click the pencil icon, and you can crop, add text layers, and adjust size/color (under the Tools menu at the top). I’ve created header images for blogs and newsletters using Preview, too.


  2. Maybe I’ll soften my stance against photo-editing someday.

    For right now, all I need is a way to toss my signature unto the pic – and GIMP is yet to let me down.

    And, yeah, I think ‘SketchGuru’ is one of the best things that ever happened mobile phones.



  3. For me the king is of course Photoshop, easy to use on mobiles and never crashed yet on android.

    Out of the box, I looked at the slide line of Instagram effects and thought how the heck there is really so many good photos if everyone uses the same effects and then just realized that those really good pics, have no effects applied whatsoever or at minimum level 🙂

    Thanks for sharing that, I didn’t know few of those apps

    all the best


  4. I will say the only things of this sort I have come across is that of photoshop,., yea i know booo! but hey it seemed to have the same options and of course the only things that differ is what knowledge you have of one program from the other. But I will say the examples given are pretty cool.