The best art and design apps for iPhone and iPad
Affinity Photo: best iPad pro image editor
Having taken on Adobe on the desktop, Serif’s now launched itself at the iPad with Affinity Photo. The app’s a full-fledged image editor for iPad, marrying the features of the desktop version with the touchscreen and Pencil smarts of Apple’s tablet.
On an iPad Pro in particular, you get a fast, immersive, tactile experience, whether fiddling with adjustment layers or smushing live effects with your fingers. Like Graphic (see later), this doesn’t seem like a cut-down take on desktop fare – this is desktop-quality software but with an eye on the future rather than the past.
Pixelmator: best iOS consumer image editor
On the Mac, Pixelmator is more or less a modern-day take on how Photoshop was before it got really complicated. On iOS, the app if anything betters its desktop sibling in terms of immediacy and usability.
Pros may grumble about the odd ‘missing’ feature, but for five quid, Pixelmator is an astonishingly feature-packed app – especially on iPhone. You get layers, all of the usual adjustment and editing options, a ton of impressive photographic filters, and some fun painting tools.
Whether you’re making subtle edits to photos or creating a bespoke digital masterpiece from scratch, Pixelmator does the business.
Hipstamatic: best iOS retro camera
There are two sides to retro-snapper Hipstamatic. Hold your phone in landscape, and it goes properly old-school. You get an analogue camera with tiny viewfinder, the main nod to modernity being able to swipe to access new lenses and flashes. It’s skeuomorphism like Apple used to love!
If you hate textures, there’s a pro mode, too, which is so minimal Jony Ive could eat his dinner off of it. As if that’s not enough, there’s a darkroom editing suite as well, in which you can delve into a slew of adjustment tools and presets. Flashy and fun, then, whichever way you’re holding it.
Mextures: best iOS photo filters app
As iPhone cameras become increasingly powerful, you get higher quality and more detailed photos. But there’s a sense the character within photography is being lost – a problem Mextures aims to resolve.
The app includes some editing tools, but is mostly of interest for its selection of textures. Elements include film scans, grunge and gradients, all of which can be added and experimented with in a non-destructive manner using a robust layers system.
If you create something amazing, share your ‘formula’ with the Mextures community. Feeling lazy? Just grab a particularly dazzling formula someone else has uploaded.
Typorama: best app for adding text to photos
Loads of apps can slap text over photos, but Typorama has artistry. Rather than you having to juggle dozens of fonts, you select designs. Not keen on what Typorama does to your text? Tap the design again for a variation, or choose something new.
For those who want to get more creative, there are additional features: opacity controls; shadows; gradients; erasers; 3D rotation. You can also add multiple text blocks, to turn your photos into an explosion in a typography factory.
For free, you get the entire app, but forced watermarks. You can subscribe for £5.49 per month, or pay a one-off premium £28.99 IAP to remove watermarks and unlock extra styles. You get 50% off if upgrading within the first six hours – so don’t hang about too long testing the app!