September 1, 2014

Five for Friday: Instagram alternatives and companion apps

instagram_android_alternative_androidguys

Say what you will about Facebook’s purchase of Instagram this week and whether or not Big Blue is going to ruin its new acquisition.  The fact is, it’s already immensely popular for Android and people love to look at photos.  Maybe it’s because of clever filters, vignettes, and borders. Maybe it’s because people just love to take pictures of sushi and cats.

Whatever the case, these social network apps based around photos isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.  To that end, we’ve put together five apps that provide good alternatives to Instagram. What’s more, some of these work well as companion apps, complement each other, and would not need to replace Instagram.

While we recognize that there are a vast number of titles that we did not include or that it appears we have a partially completed list.  On the contrary, these are just five apps that we’ve picked to get you going in the right direction.  That’s why we turn to you and ask that you add your titles to the comments below.  This way other Android users can discover the stuff that we may overlook or omit.

This week’s topic: Instagram alternatives and companion apps

EyeEm

Perhaps one of my favorite photo editing and sharing apps, EyeEm offers 14 filters and 12 border options.  That’s hardly the part that I enjoy most though, rather it’s the fun way to follow tags and categories.  If you dig pictures of breakfast, shoes, or sunsets then that’s fine.  EyeEm makes it very easy to do so!

Another feature that I like is being able to put a “when” or a “where” to your picture, automatically tagging them in the process.  Unlike Instagram, you don’t have to upload your image to EyeEm in order to save it locally with your effects and borders.  Whenever you’re finished, it’s simple to share to Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Foursquare, and Flickr.

FX Photo Editor

If I were to name the most comprehensive and feature rich camera app on my handset, it is easily FX Photo Editor.  With more than 110 preset filters across 10 themes (Blur, Vintage, Grunge, Beauty, etc), it’s very easy to give your photo that Polaroid or 80′s VHS appearance.  Digging deeper one finds the ability to manually adjust Histogram, B&W Curve, Colored Curve, and White Balance as well as overlay one of several textures.

Should you find yourself opting to use the same filters to your photos, you can star them and access them as favorites much quicker.  For those times when it doesn’t matter how large or high-resolution your pictures are, FX Photo Editor provides an option to work smaller and with less memory.  Our advice is to go with the paid version as it removes the ads and opens the door to every feature.

BeFunky Photo Editor

We’ve warmed up to BeFunky over the last few weeks and have really come to appreciate how robust the free client is.  Considering the developers offer a number of paid photo editing and sharing tools for Android phones and tablets, we’re fans of the “lite” experience.  Users can choose from more than 20 different effects, crop, resize, adjust hue, and more.  One of the main reasons we’ve come to enjoy BeFunky is that it doesn’t force us to share our pictures when we’re all done.

Unlike Instagram, we like that we can edit and enhance pictures and share them across Tumblr, Facebook, and other social networks…without listing them publicly on a BeFunky network.  Be sure to check out some of the other apps offered by the developers as they are quite a bit of fun as well!

Aviary Photo Editor (Plugin)

From the guys behind the cloud-based PhotoShop-esque tool, Aviary is quick to point out that this is more “plug-in” than “app”.  Specifically, you won’t find it in your app drawer with everything else.  Rather, the way to get to Aviary is to “share” your images from your phone or tablet.  Once in the app, Aviary provides a number of free utilities including crop, rotate, teeth whitening, red eye removal and more.  There’s plenty here to satisfy most users however Aviary offers expansion packs to kick things up another notch.  Want to add some stickers or apply a grunge or nostalgia feature?  Grab them via in-app purchases at 99¢ each and access them from the same plug-in.

Liveshare

Not so much an alternative to Instagram as a complimentary application, Liveshare is designed as a convenient way to share images.  Headed to a conference or birthday party and want to collect all the images in one spot?  Here’s the app for that.  Users can create public or private streams and manage them from phones and tablets everywhere.  Invite your friends via email or SMS and watch in real time as images are shared across the group! Like any good sharing and social application, Liveshare provides commenting and sharing  across Twitter, Facebook, and more!

Okay, so what did miss?  We know you’ve been using something to enhance or share photos with your Android smartphone or tablet.  Which one is your favorite?  Please leave a comment below with your picks!