How to Create Your Own Photo Editing App?

Creating an advanced mobile application for image correction is always a challenge and quite time-consuming task. What tools to use? How to reach the highest performance? In this article, you will learn how to make your own photo app that would include all basic features for creating bright and unique images.

Smart mobile devices still cannot fully replace professional photo cameras. However, built-in modules allow making pictures of high quality with high resolution. Nevertheless, ePhotoZine’s statistics shows that 68% of all adults worldwide edit their images before sharing them with others. Mobile photo editors help people make their selfies look good and, as a result, improve the appearance of photo sharers themselves.

According to the infographic released by Technographics, more than 1 million selfies are taken every day in the entire world. Even 34% of males edit every selfie they make. The era of selfies came 5-7 years ago and there are many different mobile solutions that let edit photos. One way or another, there always are ways for improvement. That is why we have prepared for you the detailed tutorial for developing a photo editing application for mobile devices.

How to Create a Photo Editing App: General Checklist for Both Android and iOS Platforms

Before starting to develop an app, it is important to understand where the destination point is. You should look deeper, another Aviary clone will bring no benefit either for your organization or your potential clients. Indeed, principles may be similar but realization must bring positive user experience and contain effective tools for photo editing. This is why you should check out our short list of basic aspects you should take into account in advance.

Marketing Goals

Your marketing related tasks can be divided into two parts: the first one is a marketing research and the second part is a marketing strategy. Both of them are equally important for ensuring a future success of your project.

Marketing Research

Before launching any commercial project, you should research the market you are going to place your product on. You must know your competitors, a current demand, and what your competitors offer. Create a list of similar existing applications and features they contain. Highlight advantages and disadvantages of each photo editing app on the market.

Marketing Strategy

The other part of your marketing homework is creating a comprehensive strategy defining how you are going to promote your complete project. Make sure you have planned your budget for both development and promotion. Think about how your potential customers will know about your product and how they will able to get it.

Unique Concept

Set of features your future application will contain is obviously an important aspect that has to be well planned. However, it’s not a key concept that is why you have to find one that would differ your solution from other market participants and provide at least several significant advantages in comparison with other apps. Create something fresh and useful to make your idea bring evident benefits for potential customers.

Feature List

After a key application concept is defined, you might think about functions that will fully implement it in a mobile photo editor. Think how you can develop a more user-oriented app than your competitors. Take the best what other similar application have and improve it by adding something that is missing and what would definitely be appreciated by users. Create a list of all features you would like to see in your app.

The features a good photo editing application should contain:

  • Image cropping and rotation;
  • Various effects and filters;
  • Different frames;
  • Layer management;
  • Collage creation;
  • Inscriptions and stickers
  • Levels editing;
  • Image fixer.

These are features your app must have but not be limited to.

App Structure

When you have a complete list of features, create a comprehensive structure of your future application. It means you should know for sure how those functions will be implemented. Divide complex tasks into small pieces and make a strict plan with exact deadlines regarding development and implementation.

Technical Side

After both planning and research steps are finished, you may proceed to a technical side of the whole strategy. Taking into account the app structure you have created before, you should now decide which technical tools you will use to implement the structure and desired functions. Pay attention to other developers’ experience and which tools have already been used for similar solutions. Determine the frameworks and libraries that would better match your plans.

Existing Photography Editing Apps for Android or iOS

To get you started, we have here the most popular and known photo editing applications that determine a high level of quality and rich user experience you will have to compete with. It is important to match this level or even exceed it. if you want to make a photo correction app that will succeed.


This is a worldwide known application for photo sharing. It is a perfect example of providing an augmented value in the image editing application. Instagram is a combination of a social network and photo editor. This is the principle you should use while creating your own application. If it is a picture editor, it must be the best picture editor ever. If it is not, then it has to provide user with some additional values.


This application exists for any popular platform: Android, iOS, Windows Phone, and even the Web. Its main advantage is aimed at developers: Aviary provides a particular SDK for customizing a photo editor. Furthermore, this SDK allows built its functionality in into another application.


This is a classic image editor created for the iOS platform. In fact, it is a Photoshop for mobile devices. It provides a wide range of functions for photo editing including a possibility to improve small picture areas, reshape a face, remove wrinkles or grey hair, remove a red eyes effect, whiten teeth, etc.

How to Make a Photo Editing App for iOS

To create your own app like Instagram, Aviary, or Facetune you must have at least a basic app developing experience. Below, you will find a comprehensive and simple tutorial that describes the development process itself including how to use a built-in camera in your app, how to provide an access to a photo library, and how to allow users to choose a photo to edit.

Step #1: New Project Configuration

As you have at least a basic app developing experience, you might have already downloaded and installed the integrated development environment (IDE) called Xcode. So, go to “Create a New Project” and select a “Single View Application” template. After having clicked on the “Next” button, fill in a product name, organization name, and enter “com.extension” in the organization identifier field. Then select Swift in a language selection field, iPhone in a device selection one, and click “Next”.

Step #2: UI Configuration

Now you have to set a user interface of your application. Fortunately, Xcode allows to do it with a simple drag-and-drop principle. You can set your own UI according to your requirements and needs or use three main vertical blocks to make the UI look user-friendly and simple.

3 blocks of the photo editing app’s UI:

  • Image View (the biggest one);
  • Photo from Camera;
  • Photo from Gallery.

When you have the UI set, proceed to the next step.

Step #3: Set a Delegate

A delegate will allow users to interact with a photo library and built-in camera. To set a delegate, open the” ViewController.Swift” file from the directory shown on the left sidebar. Enter the following code into this file:

“import UIKit

Class ViewController: UIViewController, UIImagePickerControllerDelegate, UINavigationControllerDelegate {“

Step #4: Setting a method for a click on “Photo from Camera”

  1. Check the compatibility of the device and camera by entering the corresponding code.
  2. To make editing photo available right after capturing, enter the code “imagePicker.allowsEditing = true;”.
  3. To make your app open a camera, set the UIImagePickerControllerSourceType as “Camera”.

Step #5: Setting a method for a click on “Photo from Gallery”

The next block of code should contain a method that will be called after clicking on a “Photo from Gallery” button. To make the app open saved photos, set the UIImagePickerControllerSourceType as “PhotoLibrary” or “SavedPhotosAlbum” in case you need the app to show all gallery albums. Then set the delegate methods for the UIImagePickerController to allow the app upload an image chosen by a user.

Step #6: Set Necessary Filters

To allow the application apply filters, at first, you have to set CIFilter and CIContext variables. Then create an action sheet define the filters your app will contain. You can find the documentation for many various filters on the official Apple’s website. Use the “ApplyFilter()” function to make a photo editor apply chosen filters to a chosen image.

How to Make a Photo Editing Application for iOS in a Simple Way

There also is another way of building a photo editing app without actually building it. We mean that it is possible to create a photo editing extension that can be implemented in any mobile application that uses a camera. In this paragraph, we will review how to create such extension using Xcode.

Step #1: Project Configuration

Open Xcode and follow the checklist:

  1. Go to FaceBlur project – Editor – Add Target – iOS – Application Extension – Photo Editing Extension – Next.
  2. Set the product and organization names, select Swift as a language, and click on “Finish”.
  3. Click on “Activate” in the appeared window.

Step #2: UI Configuration

  1. In the Document Outline, select a Photo Editing View Controller.
  2. Check the option “Use Size Classes” in the File Inspector and confirm it in the pop window.
  3. In the storyboard, remove the View Controller and add another one from the Object Library.
  4. Set the class of the View Controller as PhotoEditingViewController in the Identity Inspector.
  5. Select “Is Initial View Controller” in the Attributes Inspector checkbox.
  6. Click on “View” in the Document Outline and set a background color.
  7. Add both Cancel and Add Filter buttons using a drag-and-drop principle.
  8. Set the pixel coordinates for both buttons by clicking on them.
  9. Drag and drop an Image View there and set its pixel coordinates.

Step #3: Button Configuration

  1. While holding a Control key, drag a new outlet to the PhotoEditingViewController class from the Image View.
  2. Enter the name for the outlet.
  3. Add an outlet for the Cancel button and enter the name for it.
  4. Add an outlet for the Add Filter button and enter the name for it.
  5. While holding a Control key, drag a Cancel button to the class called PhotoEditingViewController.
  6. Replace the Connection with Action.
  7. Then set a type and name for UIButton.
  8. While holding a Control key, drag an Add Filter button to the class called PhotoEditingViewController.
  9. Then set a type and name for UIButton (Add Filter).

How Much Does It Cost to Make an Image Editing App for Android or iOS

The cost of image editing app development depends on the project complexity: how many filters you need to implement, how experienced a team of programmers is, and where you order app development services.

In India, the development of such mobile application will cost around $8,000 to $30,000. In the U.S., this amount can be twice higher. Taking into account that about 850 hours are needed to develop an app like Retrica, Aviary, or Facetune, the whole work will cost minimum $42,000 if you hire specialists from the U.S or Western Europe.

In Eastern Europe, the programming work costs about $30 per hour. It means that you will spend approximately $25,500 for the advanced mobile photo editor with all common functions. Therefore, to save your budget and get a complete custom solution, which would successfully compete with other market participants, approach to developers from Eastern Europe.

One of such experienced teams is our company Lunapps. Our team builds world-class mobile applications for both Android and iOS platforms. You will get a perfectly developed and nice-looking solution that combines the best design and functionality practices. Drop us a line at and you will get a complete product in the shortest terms.