Best Free iPhone Apps for the Photographer

As part of the series – Best Free iPhone Apps for the Geeks, we continue to add apps suitable for the photographer in all of us. To quote from last week’s post – ‘Apple Store has thousands of useful apps populated under different categories and many of them are free. Many of these free apps expect you to pay when you want to use their advanced features. Surprisingly there are some free apps which are not crippled by design.’ I am writing about some of the useful apps aimed at the photographers – which are free. At least they were when I first downloaded them.
Best Free iPhone Apps for the Photographer

“Knowledge is merely having clarity of facts and truths while Wisdom is the practical ability to make consistently good decisions in life.” This blog , like most of the pages of TargetWoman, contains distilled wisdom that can make you arrive at good decisions based on the wide range of information we so assiduously collected for you.

Augustine’s Law Number XVII states that ‘Software is like entropy. It is difficult to grasp, weighs nothing, and obeys the Second Law of Thermodynamics; i.e., it always increases.’ Most of these apps I have added into this page are relatively small in size but are so handy that you will be glad you have them in your phone.

There are tons of camera apps and photo editing apps in Apple Store. Most of them offer basic editing in their app in the free version and offer more advanced features in the paid version. But there are some which offer exceptional photo touching/editing features even in the free version. So in this post, I review only those free apps which offer essential features useful for any serious photographer.

Microsoft Pix :

Microsoft is the leading desktop computer operating System – Windows. And you thought that they would only concentrate on their flagship Windows 10. They have been working on so many other things as well. They have successfully ported their Internet Explorer to iOs. Creating Software is Microsoft’s primary mission in their life.


Many of the new camera apps start on the premise that most of us are just not fast enough to select the right time to click in order to preserve the moment for posterity. They try to seize the moment by taking a series of shots before and after we take the shot. This MS Pix does that for you. It automatically combines a stream of photos before and after you press the button – giving you a best possible image – according to its Artificial Intelligence based algorithm. The AI deduces your subject and tries to adjust the camera settings and tweaks them for the best possible results – at least in theory.

We have tried this app in 2 different iPhones and found drastically varying results. In an iPhone 7, the app sort of worked reasonably well without much ado. On the other hand in an iPhone SE (currently at the low end) it ended up heating up the phone and delivered average results. In repeated usage, it even triggered a shut down. If you have not set the permissions in the settings for accessing your phone’s microphone (required for Video), the app may hang. You may need to do a temporary reset – hold the power button and when you see the ‘slide to power off’ press the Home button.

Microsoft Pix App

App Shut down

Microsoft Pix does a reasonably good job when you do a Hyperlapse. It uses stabilized images from the camera to stitch together a time lapse video. It extracts the maximum from the phone’s CPU. It is a power intensive process which hogs the battery too.

Microsoft Pix app at the moment has 2 broad categories of effects – frames and mosaic cartoon effects. You can crop the image with this app and draw a basic frame around the picture. You can share the final image with any of the apple applets.

MS Pix has more in its armory. It is capable of capturing a business card, document and white board – and tries its best to extract text content. Yes – it tries to do Optical Character Recognition (OCR) from the image. For the best results in this role, you would be advised to start with a plain white uncluttered background and black fonts. It recognizes a limited set of fonts. Any fancy font will not be recognized at the moment.


Another feature of this app is it tweaks the image when it notices a face in the image. When the app is running, we could notice that the phones run hotter indicating that it pushes the CPU to its limit – which is not surprising when you run enterprise class AI in a relatively tiny mobile CPU. We were really impressed with some of the results of this MS Pix and they offer this product free for now.


Tip: Always start with a fully charged phone when you want to use this app. Apple iOs might consider the rapid discharge of the phone battery as a malfunction and invoke a shut down. It happened to us many times. Your mileage may vary depending upon the condition of your battery.

EXIF Metadata

Your digital camera that includes your mobile phone bakes a lot of information along with your shot into the picture at the time of taking the picture. The ‘Exchangeable Image File Format’ EXIF is the industry standard. The information contained there can be invaluable for any photographer or designer. In TargetWoman we have been processing literally several thousand images every year. It is probably the reason why you see we show more number of iOS Apps targeted to Photography and Visual Design.

EXIF Metadata App
Amongst other things, EXIF data contains GPS data and map location which when you share your photos with others, you may not want to share the GPS location data for reasons of privacy. Or you may want to strip your photos of any telltale EXIF data. The last thing you need is some low life to pry into your shared photo and extract the exact location where you spend quality time with your family. A lot of people don’t realize that that spontaneous selfie they took when they were jogging contained enough information for anyone to know your morning routine. Get into the habit of stripping all metadata before you share a photograph. One day you will thank me for warning you upfront.

EXIF Metadata App
This app allows you to view 50 + metadata tags including your GPS co-ordinates and edit them if you want. And this does with a tiny memory foot print – less than 33 MB.

We have shown the original image and an IrfanView desktop app that shows the EXIF metadata alongside this iOS app here for comparison.


Pocket Light Meter
Light Meter App
A light meter is an indispensable tool for a professional photography/Videography. This handy little tool will measure the reflected light and allows for reciprocity calculations. You can use this app along with film cameras as the results are pretty accurate. A reflected light meter measures the light coming from the subject and aids the photographer to decide about the shutter speed and f-number under the given film speed and the settings light. This iOs app, in addition to the shutter speed (time), aperture and film Speed (ISO) also tells you the color temperature in Kelvin. You can adjust the color temperature with your lighting so that the entire photo session can have uniform color temperature for pleasing results.

Light Meter Screenshot

It is not just for the photographers alone that this feature is useful. If you want to measure the color temperature of your home lighting with your newly minted LED lights, this tool can be quite invaluable. Warmer colors are chosen in bedroom and living room (around 3000 K) whereas for Kitchen and study a cooler light will help you to discern better details (5500 K). Your automobile head lights need to be of certain color temperature for maximum visibility which depends on the type of head lights – tungsten halogen, Xenon HID or the LEDs. In the US, generally a head light with 4000 K if Tungsten Halogen or 5000 K if Xenon HID is the most preferred choice.

You can even set the TV/monitor color settings with this app. Set up a white background in your monitor and measure the color temperature in this app – and adjust the color correction from your Graphic Properties applet. I told you sometimes lots of useful things in life come in small sizes.


Magic Hour
Magic Hour App Screenshot

Photography is the art of painting with light. So the critical part is the light – the right light and at the right angle. In outdoor photography, sun light is the primary source but it shines in different colors and in different intensity depending upon the time. The harsh glare of the sun between 10.00 and 3.00 would not be ideal. And the color temperature would be bluish white. On the other hand, during the morning hours and evening hours, the streaming light at a lower angle will be the ideal light for photography. The warm colored sun light will chisel out the details in your subject. The warm glow of the iridescent sun will provide modeling, texture depth, warmth and interest to your photograph. This is why Photographers call these hours as ‘Magic hour’ or Golden hour. A portrait taken at this golden hour will accentuate the glow of the skin. Now that we know what this Magic hour is, how do we find the hour ? It is not all. How do we find the magic hour where we are planning to have the photo shoot ?

Magic Hour App Help

I will quote from the App developers here: ‘Magic Hour (also called golden hour) is the time of day around sunrise and sunset when the light is great for photography and cinematography. It is typically when the sun is between 6 degrees below the horizon to 6 degrees above. This sunlight is evenly dispersed and helps you create great pictures.

Magic Hour 1.6 makes it easy for you to know when magic hour is coming and how much time you have left once it begins. The app takes your location along with the current day and calculates when magic hour will occur.’

This tiny 25 MB app ranks in the top for outdoor photography. It sits there quietly in the iPhone until awakened when needed. Doesn’t ask for pernicious permissions and won’t bug you with notifications.



This powerful app from Google is a full featured Photo editing app for iOS as well as for Android. Originally developed by Nik Software, this app provides a plethora of really useful features. You can set the white balance, change the perspective, fine tune the exposure curves, crop the image and do other manipulation right from your phone and what’s more you don’t need to spend a dime.

Snapseed App with Original Image

Snapseed App with Enhanced Image

I have explored some of the major features of this app and as you can see from the results displayed here, they are awesome. You can use many of the functions easily enough instinctively and reserve the rest of the advanced functions to a later date.

Snapseed App Editing Options

Snapseed App Effects

Like I said earlier, I am not too comfortable with large applications in my phone and the size of the app is a critical deciding factor in the selection of apps for this page. Snapseed for all its prowess still weighs around 22 MB – an incredible feat by itself. All the complex functions have been coded within 22 MB and the small size doesn’t cripple the app in any way.

The current version has a size limitation of 20 Mega pixels for iOs – which is plenty at this time.


Enlight Pixaloop
Pixaloop Apple App
This app from Lightricks carries a lot of promise to make your pictures stand out from the mundane images. But the free version has many of the advanced features crippled as expected. The free version lets you add sky to the background of your image and allows you to save that as an iPhone Live image or a Video file. Similarly it allows you to add overlays of some effects or add elements like butter fly amongst other things.

Pixaloop App Options

Pixaloop App Effects

If you select an effect it shows you the working effects before you save them. I find the sky effect as appearing quite natural. The moving cloud effect really compares positively with that produced by professional software costing a pile of money. What is more, it takes pressing a few buttons to achieve the effect which would have taken hours. For animation, it is a hit and miss affair. When I tried to create a path for animation, it was not that precise. I realized this only when I saw the result in my 27 inch desk top monitor after exporting the results. For diminutive screen sizes, the animation may seem impressive, but check in a larger monitor before you share your files.

But truth be said, I have never been much of a fan of apps which try to imitate a seasoned Photographer or what you can achieve with the industry standard PhotoShop in a high end desktop computer. These apps depend on algorithms which shoehorn some preconceived ‘effects’ into the image you have taken. In a basic way, it might appear to do the job effectively for the given effect. But nothing replaces a trained eye and professional software. Anyway these apps are probably not designed to replace a design professional – but to fill a basic need for just about everyone.


Best Free iPhone Apps for Geeks

Every time I step out of my home, I carry a few items indispensable for my day-to-day activities – Every Day Carry (EDC) gear with me like the trusty multi utility toolkit – Leatherman Wingman, iPhone, Multi utility pen with laser pointer and a small torch. Suffice it to say here that, at least one of them has pulled my chestnut out of fire in all these years.
You would have noticed that I have included the iPhone into the EDC gear category mainly because many of us have developed almost an umbilical cord relationship with our smart phone. These smart phones are quite handy and have plenty of useful apps to make our everyday life easier, better and safer.

Now I carry most of my ‘soft’ tools in my iPhone – very compact, easy to use and what’s more can be easily updated when there is a new version.

Apple Store has thousands of useful apps populated under different categories and many of them are free. Many of these free apps expect you to pay when you want to use their advanced features. Surprisingly there are some free apps which are not crippled by design. Some nag you to cough up some money which can be irritating to say the least. We have scoured long and hard in the Apple store to come up with really useful apps which can reside in your phone until the time comes to make use of them. In other words, we looked for apps which don’t leave a large memory footprint and at the same time can work across most if not all of the current crop of iPhones.

Best Free iPhone Apps for Geeks

I selected a few of the apps currently residing in my iPhone and as is usual with TargetWoman way of writing, show you actionable usable information about every app for Geeks that I find so useful:

iPhone Apps for Geeks


dB Meter:  These days we live in a noisy environment. Some of us may suffer noise induced hearing Loss (NIHL) if we subject ourselves to repeated or long exposure to noise exceeding 85 dB. Prolonged exposure to high levels of background noise can affect us in other ways as well: – Stress is one of them. Human hearing is not linear in frequency response and as we age our ability to perceive higher frequency sound comes down.

dB Meter Apple App

This is where this iOS app comes in handy to detect the level of ambient noise in your surroundings. Unlike humans, iPhones have linear frequency response and this app displays the peak as well average values of the sound level. You can save the sound levels for later use or as a record for further action.

Commander Compass GoCommander Compass is a well crafted Car/Walk GPS compass app for iOS and Android. It is a milspec compass, gyrocompass, maps, GPS tracker, speedometer, gyro horizon and inclinometer – all rolled into one app. Find and track your location, coordinates in geo and military formats, altitude, current and maximum speed and course. Use imperial, metric, nautical and military units.

The manual they give you details plenty of useful techniques to precisely locate a position in a map and measure many details using nothing more than this app.

Commander Compass Apple App

It has many practical uses when you travel. For example, I checked the speed of the Airbus A 320 when I was on my way to a target destination some 550 km away. It showed a speed of 768 km/hour at an altitude of just a little over 10000 meters above sea level as you can see from the screen shot. You can check the rate of climb or descent and you can work out when the plane is likely to land based on the Commander Compass information. The GPS co-ordinates are shown at the top right corner ( in the screen shots the location information has been sanitized).
Commander Compass
When you are in a plane, try to keep the iPhone near the glass window so that the GPS receiver in the mobile can ‘see’ the satellites. This is possible even when the phone is in flight mode. The flight mode switches off the cellular radio receiver and wifi/Bluetooth receivers. In Iphone the GPS receiver is still active as it is in the passive mode – that is it is not transmitting anything and so it won’t cause any radio frequency interference to the aircraft. It takes a few seconds to a couple of minutes to get a ‘fix’ on the satellites if you keep the phone close to the window.

This relatively tiny app converts your iPhone camera into a high quality mobile scanner. You can scan many pages and convert them into a portable document format (PDF) after cropping each page as you need. You can set the flash option to be on/off directly from the app’s interface. You can share the result in the usual Apple share functionality. It takes approximately about 3 minutes from start to finish a 5 page document converted into a PDF file. A desk top scanner takes at least double the time.
Clear Scanner Apple App

Not long ago, we used to scan many documents in a desk top scanner and save the images in the form of TIFF and then use Photoshop to render the images to the size we wanted. It took quite a bit of time and kept our designers busy on relatively trivial thing. Now anyone with a mobile phone does that in a fraction of the time it would take a skilled designer with software costing hundreds of dollars.

You would have to agree that the evolution of technology has progressed to a state where it has percolated down to the level of the common man.

Solarwinds Mobile Admin: If you need to access your Linux server through CLI (Command Line Interface) and you don’t want to jump through loops or evade dodgy pesky screens to force you to cough up your money – take a peak at this App. No frills – bare bones CLI for your remote server. I always lug my laptop to communicate with my servers. But it has many limitations and it is not always possible to whip out your laptop when you are outdoors. The only piece of equipment that is likely to be with you always is your mobile phone.

Mobile Admin SSH app

With a powerful magnifying glass and this app, you can probably manage IT administrative tasks and monitor potential issues right from your iPhones. It is a little awkward to type commands when you can’t see the white letters against the backdrop of black screen – primarily due to the size of the phone screen. But you can pinch the screen to see better –enlarging the screen.

If you are primarily interested in checking the processes running in your Linux box and keeping an eye on them – this might just be the only app you need. I have tested a dozen SSH client on iOs and this app is the only one I chose to stay with. But it is not the last word. The app has not been regularly updated and it may not suit users who spend longer duration controlling their remote servers.

In our second part we will cover the  Best Free iPhone Apps for Photographers.

Internet Safety Tips for Everyone

Safety in information Highway – the Internet is critical for safe passage while you are there. The information you provide willingly or otherwise can and may be used against you. The following is part of the series on ‘Internet Safety Tips for Everyone’ articles in TargetWoman.

Privacy Issues: GDPR – the General Data Protection Regulation is a global data protection law passed by the European Union that shifts the ownership of customer data from the entities that use it to the individual customer.
What this means is any data that can be used to identify an individual – be it genetic, psychological, cultural, religious or socio – economic – they all now come under the GDPR umbrella. Every site will now need to set clearly in their privacy page – how the information is collected and how the data will be used – to how long this set of data will be stored. As per this regulation, the customer has the right to withdraw the consent whereupon within a reasonable time frame, the company has to remove all traces of the data collected from the particular customer from their records.

Internet Safety Tips for Everyone

Google as the single largest online entity tracks quite a bit of information about the sites you visited through their searches, places you visited and Videos you have seen over a long time frame. Google’s location History can pinpoint where you have been through your Android Mobile phone’s GPS receiver and cell tower triangulation. This is not all. Your Mobile Phone may run background location services can use wifi positioning in its quest to accurately locate your position.

Remember the cardinal rule in computers – unless you absolutely need it, don’t run it. This rule applies to all software, services and apps. Unless you absolutely need the location services, turn it off. If you need the location services occasionally, you can decide which app needs that. Many apps require GPS receiver to provide the location data or source it from Cell towers wifi Access Points. For example, your IPhone’s built in Compass will not work without the location services. In IPhones, go to Settings – > Privacy -> Location Services and scroll through the list of apps which require the location services. Find IPhone, Google Maps, Maps, Uber and Weather are some of the apps which require your location to work. You can allow them by selecting the option :’while using’.

In Android Phones – the drill is similar. Go to Settings – the gearwheel icon – > Scroll down to the Location Settings -> Location History On and toggle the switch off. Whilst at it you can purge all your history by selecting ‘Delete all Location History’ .

Remember many services in apps may require your location services to work properly. You can’t call Uber cab unless the app knows where you are. But at the same time, there is no need for the app to constantly ping your location to their servers. Most apps will happily work with location services made available when they are open. There may be exceptions like Zus Smart Car Locator which requires that the location services are enabled all the time for it. If you turn off the location services for most apps, your Phone battery will retain its charge for longer duration. GPS receivers are power hogs.

Privacy Settings:

We start with Google – probably the most dominant Online player in the World. Go to Google’s Privacy Page here:

Google Privacy Settings
You will find lots of options with slide buttons to enable/disable. At the moment they show the following:

Under Activity Controls:
Privacy Options

Web & App Activity – Slide Button : Saves your activity on Google sites and apps to give you faster searches, better recommendations, and more personalized experiences in Maps, Search, and other Google services.

Location History – Slide Button: Saves where you go with your devices to give you personalized maps, recommendations based on places you’ve visited, and more.

Device Information – Slide Button:
Stores info about your contacts, calendars, apps, and other device data to improve your experience across Google services.

Voice & Audio Activity – Slide Button: Records your voice and audio on Google services to improve speech recognition, like when you say “Ok Google” to do a voice search.

YouTube Search History – Slide Button: Saves your searches on YouTube to make your future searches faster and improve your recommendations.

YouTube Watch History – Slide Button:
Makes it easier to find YouTube videos you’ve watched and improve your recommendations in YouTube and other Google services.

Check all entries and delete entries you don’t want there. If you ask me, purge all of them and block them in the first place.

If you are one of those with high risk online behavior, your personal data can easily be compromised. What is worse, your computer can end up running backdoor processes that can ‘call home’ – sending sensitive information to any hacker. As part of my job of securing computers, I had to format the drives and install Operating System (OS) afresh in compromised computers. We managed to save time and effort by creating System images after installing all the software required for the staff and saving it elsewhere. Every month, we formatted the hard disk and restored the system from the saved system image.

If you have a high risk online behavior, you should try Sandboxie – a software that runs browsers like Firefox Portable version within its Sandboxed environment – thus protecting you from malicious software, some viruses, ramsomware and zero day threats. Purge the version of portable browsers often as a precaution.

Never – Ever use public Wifi to log on to sensitive sites – your bank accounts, official emails and your social Networking sites. The man-in-the-middle attack is lesser with most sites opting for the HTTPS (Hyper Text Transfer Protocol Secure from the common HTTP (Hyper Text Transfer Protocol). The communication between your browser and the target Server is encrypted using TLS (Transport Layer Security) or the earlier SSL ( Secure Sockets Layer). Check the Green Lock icon in the address bar of your browser. If you want to be doubly sure that your site is what it really claims – click on the Green lock and the digital certificate authority will have identified the domain name of the site. Banks and sites collecting financial information will have extended SSL certificates – identifying the site in the address bar itself next to the Green Lock. Always check for the Green Lock before you type any sensitive information.

Remember the adage of the Latin Poet Phaedrus – ‘Things are not always what they seem‘ in all things online. Do Not click on links from mails and messages from any one. Type the site address directly on the browser. It is just too easy to cook up a link purportedly targeted at a genuine site but in reality pointing to a nefarious site.



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