Ten Fun (and FREE!) iPhone Photo Apps

I'm guessing most Steve's readers aren't reaching for an iPhone as a first camera choice, but what if there is no other option? What if you're traveling light and there's no room for the dSLR? What if there's no time to dig into that camera bag? What if you forgot your regular camera at home?

In these circumstances -- as well as countless others -- it's nice to know that our iPhones moonlight as serviceable digicams. Great shots are a little harder to get than on full-time cameras, but as the saying goes, there's an app for that. And for me, personally, the first apps I always investigate for any needs are the free apps. Because really, didn't we just spend $300 on a phone that requires an $80/month service plan. In this economy, I don't have the willy-nilly buy up all the potentially -interesting iPhone camera apps (especially when there's no way to try many apps without buying).

That's why I love free apps.

Many, of course, are set up to act as trial version of more impressive apps, but there are also some fun standalone free apps worth checking out. So, with any more delays, here are ten fun iPhone photo apps that won't cost you a penny:


Ever wanted to blindly try a Chinese Photo app? No? Well here's your chance anyway. A little app gem I found out about via the happy commenters in a gadget forum. As an app, it's pretty easy to figure out (which it has to be, because there aren't any English instructions). The Mito Xiu Xiu allows users to adjust saturation, contrast, and color in photos, add in a variety of effects, and then surround your pics in fun borders. This experience might not be for everyone, but at this price, there's not much to complain about.

REQUIREMENTS: iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad compatible. Needs iOS 3.0 or later


Canopy Camera Tools allows iPhone owners to do more advance functions on their iPhones, such as setting separate focus and exposure points, using a time-delay, or even creating time-lapse videos. Everything works great, but with most of the time-management settings, it's probably a good idea to mount your iPhone onto a tripod or to take advantage of camera-like buttons. It comes as no surprise that Canopy recommends specific Canopy products to help out, the Jumba and Kapok sleeves.

REQUIREMENTS: iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPod Touch (4th gen), iPad 2 (Wifi & 3G + WiFi) compatible. Needs iOS4.1 or later.


I'm not sure if it's clear what this app does from such a "vague name", but the Eye Colorizer FREE is a quick and easy app that, surprise, allows users to change to color of the eyes in people's photos. The useful application is of course, red eye reduction, but at the same time, this is a light, fun app for making your friends and family look anywhere from "exotic" to downright "frightening."

REQUIREMENTS: iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad compatible. Needs iOS 4.1 or later.

Picture Effect Magic allows for color adjustments (RGB, HSL, HSV, YUV, CMYK) and other quick modifications as well as lots of fun filters, including Sepia, Black & White, Pencil Paint, Mirror, Swirl, Neon Light, Emboss, Ice, Pinch, Solarize, and many more. It'll be clear after reading this list that there are a number of apps which have similar or overlapping purposes. The trick is to find the one you personally enjoy using most. And have I mentioned the prices? Let's continue!

REQUIREMENTS: iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad compatible. Needs iOS 4.0 or later.


For more than just excited Steven Spielberg and J.J. Abrams movie fans, the Super 8 app is a chance to recreate the nostalgic look of making home movies on Super 8 film. Users will get to shoot their own footage, add lens, filter and shake effects, arrange clips, and even add in credits. After you "send your movie off to be developed" it is then stored in your personal movie library where you can choose to watch it on your built-in Super 8 projector room. My iPhone 3 is super (get it?) jealous that it can't shoot video.

REQUIREMENTS: iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPod touch (4th gen), and iPad 2 (WiFi and Wife + 3G) compatible. Needs iOS 4.2 or later.


I don't know what it is about photos that mix up using both black and white as well as color. I love the way it makes the colors more vibrant, and framing more deliberate and focused. Color Splash Free does a fine job allow shutterbugs to use their own fingers to brush away or bring back color to any photo in your library. My only concern here is my stubby-fingered friends... Perhaps the iPhone screen will be too small to be as precise as you'd like, but it worked well enough for me.

REQUIREMENTS: iPhone, iPod touch (4th gen), and iPad 2 (WiFi and Wife + 3G) compatible. Needs iOS 3.1 or later.


Who doesn't love assembling panoramas? (communists?) While Panorama Free is not an auto-assemble app (ala those Sony cameras that allow you to press one button and pan away), it is pretty easy to use. Take a few camera shots, line them up, and presto. Panorama. The one trouble I found on the iPhone, is the auto exposure settings. If you start panning towards something brighter, the images won't line up quite as well. Definitely fun, though.

REQUIREMENTS: iPhone, iPod touch (4th gen), and iPad 2 (WiFi and Wife + 3G) compatible. Needs iOS 3.0 or later.


Simple and specialized is the best way to describe OilCanvas. It only does one thing, allow you to turn photos into oil canvas look-alikes. After taking (or importing) the picture of your choice to be the base, users pick out a brush, and then start painting until the desired effect is achieved. It's fun and simple.

REQUIREMENTS: iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad compatible. Needs iOS 2.0 or later.


While the impending release iOS 5 might be steal some of Adobe Photoshop Express' thunder, I'm not one of those people who upgrades my OS on the first day because I'm picky about making sure that my phone will actually, ahem, work. After all the bugs are worked out, then I'll be good to go. Until then, Adobe Photoshop Express is a handy little app that allows for in-app photo taking, quick edits like cropping and straightening, and a simple way to post the pick to various social networks. Could it have more functionality and work better? Yes. Could it cost less? Nope.

REQUIREMENTS: iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad compatible. Needs iOS 4.2 or later.


Last, but certainly not least, we have a super fun app called iSwap Faces LITE. As the name implies, this app allows you to swap out the faces of people in your photographs, which personally seems like hours and hours of goofy, silly fun. If you upgrade to the paid version, you'll be able to save pictures, swap faces from more than one photo, and you won't have the logo overlay. Consider this version of the app the try-before-you-buy version.

REQUIREMENTS: iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad compatible. Needs iOS 3.0 or later.