Magic Tricks and Tips of Photo Editing App Development or How to make a photo editing app?

Comparison is the main problem when creating a new photo editing app. And this comparison can interfere with any magic trick. Indeed, many people associate the words “photo editing” with Adobe Photoshop. First of all, the application with such functions is expected to be “like a Photoshop”. Having such complex functionality, this app should easily fit into the memory of a smartphone and be simple and understandable like Aviary or apps similar to VSCOcam, or like a more focused Facetune. Moreover, there are sensational FaceApp, Prisma, Meitu, and MSQRD with their filters. Of course, in this series of comparisons, Instagram will be mentioned too.

The real magic in creating a photo editing app is to take the best out of all these competitors, add unique features people will love and proceed to develop a convenient and great-looking new application.

How to make a photo editing app?

Trick #1: a unique idea

How will the application differ from everything else? Will it have unique filters? Or maybe incredibly user-friendly interface? Availability on any device — from smartwatches to personal computers? The future popularity of your application depends on this, so let your imagination run wild!

Trick #2: editing features

What features should you add to your app for editing photos? After all, all “Photoshop” features cannot be placed in the mobile application! Therefore, you need to understand what functions users need the most. To achieve that, you need to analyze the market of existing applications and your target audience.

  • Crop and rotate: this is a simple and basic function if you want to make an app like VSCO. With its help, you can fix bad photo position, align the tilted horizon or vice versa, make an unusual rotation, change the shape of the photo — for example, make it square.
  • Filters: filters have become a decisive function that brought popularity to many applications. The main changes that filters provide are manipulation with brightness, contrast, colors saturation and levels, etc. These are standard functions for almost any graphics editor, but the creators of some applications went further. For example, if you want to make an app like Prisma, you must know that it uses self-learning neural network for processing images in the style of work of famous artists.
  • Effects: frames, stickers, collages — all of these things are the effects imposed on the photo. On the one hand, the more of them — the more options for editing photos. On the other hand, the excess of functions can both reload the application and be ignored by users. The main thing is to observe the balance and monitor the statistics and feedback of the target audience.
  • Drawbacks improvement: the most famous example is the red-eyes correction. This feature is built in in the camera app often. Facetune can be an excellent illustration of applications that have made a drawback improvement their key feature. This app is specially designed for selfie editing and allows you to out the color and texture of your skin and even add a smile. You will also need a special AI to create an app like Facetune.
  • Advanced features: other functions are not mandatory and are used less often. These include new layers addition, masks, stamps, and other similar advanced editing features. They even can be added to the purchased content.

Trick #3: general features

In addition to the unique idea, which will become the tricky part of your application, you will also need a number of common features that users are used to:

  • Uploading or taking photos,
  • Saving photos,
  • Sharing and social media integration,
  • Localization,
  • In-app purchases.

Marketing and monetization

Trick #4: how to make money?

Unequivocally there are no chances to make any usual photo editing application and to repeat the success of apps like VSCOcam: the niche is already occupied. You need to focus on some unusual functions, bright and memorable filters, stickers, extravagant post-processing. And in any case, the application should be free: The market is oversaturated, and few of the users will pay attention to the paid app.

One of the options for monetization can be free access only to the standard functionality, and the most interesting and “catchy” features (for example, some filters, more stickers and frames) can be purchasable. Aviary uses this model. And everyone who interested in some app like Aviary should know: a part of their popularity comes from a free SDK with a customizable photo editor that can be embedded into any other app.

Another option is entirely free functionality and paid advertising. There is Instagram’s method. But the application must have an internal feed and a large number of users. A variation of this method is the inclusion of advertising in the application and some kind of premium account that disables these ads for the duration of time or forever.

How much does a photo editing app development cost?

Trick #5: know what to do

To determine the approximate cost, let’s see what team is needed to develop the application, and what exactly they will have to do.

The team:

  • Project Manager
  • Designers (UI and UX)
  • Backend Developers
  • Developers for iOS and Android
  • AI specialists if you want something new and innovative
  • QA Engineers

Rough estimation of development scope and cost to develop a photo editing app:

  • Application back-end development: 100 hours, $2,000 — $5,000 or more;
  • Application design: 60 hours, $1,000 — $2,000;
  • Uploading or taking photos: 40 hours, $2,000 — $2,500;
  • Editing photos, including filters and effects: 50 hours for each feature, $30,000 — $50,000 depending on how many features and filters you want, the average number is around 30;
  • Saving photos, including social media sharing: 40 hours, $2,000 — $3,500;
  • In-app purchases: 100 hours, $3,000 — $5,000;

The total cost will range from $40,000 to $60,000 and may be extended if you want to increase the number of features.


The magic in photo editing app development is the enchantment of the idea that will charm your target audience. And then it is a matter of skills: intuitive and simple interface, the whole set of basic functions, filters and effects, and do not forget: your users should be able to show the world their photos — with your editing magic, of course.

Read also: How to Make a Dating App Like Tinder

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