App Smart

A phone full of photos, beautifully organized

They say the best camera is the one you have with you. Nowadays, that’s probably your cellphone’s camera.

And there are great apps that can help you sort your many cellphone pictures into digital albums.



  • Free on iOS

  • On iOS, the best photo album app I’ve found is called Photoful. It doesn’t have many bells and whistles, but it does its job — organizing your photo collection — very well.

  • When you run the app, it asks for access to your phone’s photo library and then presents you with a tutorial while it’s connecting to all the images in your archive.

  • Once Photoful has scanned your images, it presents them as tiny thumbnail photos listed by date. To view an image, you tap its thumbnail and it zooms to fill the screen. You can also select multiple thumbnails by tapping on one and sliding your finger across the screen. When you’ve selected a photo or group, you can edit or view them. The app also has buttons to create collages or slide shows, but its creator hasn’t turned those features on yet.

  • To delete a photo from the archive, you swipe it to the left, as if throwing it in trash. (You can look in the “trash bin” and undo the delete if you change your mind.) This feature makes organizing photos easy. I used it to quickly sift through multiple snaps of the same thing and ditch the bad versions.

  • You can also rename albums and then tag them as “#family” or “#vacation” and so on for easy sorting by category.

  • A calendar-based view lets you skip to earlier months or years. You can also share individual photos or groups of them via e-mail, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

  • I do wish Photoful had more features, but then I remember it is free.

  • A great equivalent on Android is Smart Album-Photo Calendar. Like Photoful, it’s free and it keeps things simple. It grabs your photo archive and presents your images in the form of albums sorted by name or month, or chronologically in a calendar view. It’s easy to share your photos, view them as a slide show, or delete the less desirable ones. Tapping on an image makes it zoom to fill the screen.


Fish Bowl

  • Free on Android

  • For an Android app with more features, you can try Photo Gallery (Fish Bowl). Fish Bowl is very fast and has an attractive interface. It’s more visual than its rivals; it can, for example, tile thumbnails of photos together into one image so you can quickly see what’s in a particular folder.

  • Fish Bowl, which is free, also has extras like a photo “locker” that is password-protected so you can conceal certain photo galleries.

  • You can also edit images, like cropping or rotating them, within the app.

  • It also shows you the Exif (exchangeable image file format) data of your photos, which is hidden data about where and when a photo was taken, how big it is, and so on.

  • All of these features, however, mean it is sometimes easy to get lost inside various menus or to forget the gesture or button needed to access a particular feature.


Photo Manager Pro

  • $3 on iOS

  • Photo Manager Pro is an iOS app similar to Fish Bowl. It can do the same album curation, photo editing, slide show generation, and so on.

  • It has a few nice features, like being able to color the icons for the photo folders you keep in it. This might be handy to find, say, vacation photos at a glance.

  • But its strength is editing and file transfer powers. You can transfer groups of photos to a computer over a wireless connection. You can also edit the Exif data, adding captions and star ratings to your images to help you find favorites quickly. The app is not as easy to use as some, but its interface doesn’t take long to learn. It costs $3.

Kit Eaton writes on technology for The New York Times.
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