7 free Android apps for creatives

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As Android-using creatives, it can often feel like you’re the poor cousins of your Apple fanboy counterparts. 

But in the last 12 months a ton of new releases have come to Android phones and tablets, and the balance is at least beginning to tip back in your favour.

In this post, we round up some of the best new and newly updated Android apps for creatives. Are there any we should add to the list? Let us know!

01. Photoshop Sketch

Create digital artwork on the move using free app Photoshop Sketch

We’re not sure why Adobe called this app Photoshop Sketch, because it doesn’t really have much to do with Photoshop’s main function as a photo editor. But that aside, it’s a great free app for any digital artist who wants to do some work on the move.

Version 1.0 of Photoshop Sketch for Android lets you draw with digital versions of pencils, pens, markers, erasers, thick acrylic, ink brush, soft pastel and watercolour paint brushes. The app includes 11 tools that can adjust size, colour, opacity and blending settings.

Once you’re done, the artwork you’ve created can then be sent as layered files to either Photoshop CC or Illustrator CC for further tweaks. 

02. Cardboard Camera

Get a taste of VR with Google’s Cardboard Camera

From agencies to app developers, everyone’s jumping on the VR bandwagon right now. And here’s a free app from Google to help you dip your toe in the water and see what all the fuss is about.

Cardboard Camera enables you to capture and share what Google calls ‘VR photos’. These are essentially 360-degree panoramic photos, with sound. You can view them in a compatible viewer such as Google Cardboard, as long as you have a compatible phone.

When you do so, your photo looks sort-of three-dimensional (a slightly different image is sent to your right and left eye, giving the illusion of depth), and you’re able to scan the whole 360-degree scene by turning around accordingly. The app also makes it easy to share your VR photo with friends and colleagues. 

03. Photoshop Fix

Image editing app Photoshop Fix has recently made it to Android

After a year of only existing on iOS, Adobe’s mobile photo editing app Photoshop Fix was finally released for users of Android smartphones and tablets this November. 

It’s far from the full desktop version of Photoshop, of course. But this free app is packed with tools that enable you to heal, smooth, liquify, lighten, darken, and paint your images, as well as adjusting colour, adding vignettes, tweaking exposure and saturation, and more. 

Moreover, once you’re done, you can send your images directly to Photoshop CC on the desktop so you can refine them further. All your edits are converted within the app to layers, and Photoshop Fix then packages your image up as a PSD file.

04. Prisma

Prisma makes clever use of AI to redraw your photos as art

There are tons of Android apps on the market that transform your photos into artwork. But Prisma’s the one that really blew up around the world last year. 

Made available for Android users in July, the app uses artificial intelligence to redraw your photos in the styles of famous artists. 

They really do look like they’ve been painted by a human rather than a machine, and as such can serve as a great source of visual inspiration for your projects.

05. Capture CC

Create colour palettes based on photos, and more, with Capture CC

Adobe Capture CC is a free app that lets you extract colour palettes from photos you’ve taken and use these in other Adobe tools including After Effects CC, Dreamweaver, Animate CC, Illustrator CC, Illustrator Draw, InDesign CC, Muse and Photoshop CC. 

You can use these colours to create such things as ribbon-, scatter- or vector-type brushes or video-enhancing filters. And that’s not all: Capture CC can also generate vector graphics from drawings you’ve created in Illustrator. Plus everything syncs up nicely, so the assets you create are immediately accessible in other Adobe tools. 

Capture CC has been around a while, launching on Android in late 2015, but it only appeared on Android tablets in January 2017, hence its inclusion in our list. 

06. Lightroom 2.2

Lightroom 2.2 makes it easier than ever to import RAW imagery

Launched in February last year, Lightroom on Android 2.0 was much more than a simple update. Instead, Adobe trumpeted it as the first end-to-end RAW mobile photography solution. In short, it combined the ability to capture and share RAW/DNG files directly on on your phone with photo editing software to perfect it. 

Now, since November, version 2.2 of this free app has upped the ante once more. This latest update adds additional functionality that allows you to import RAW photos directly from your camera. 

A new “Raw Technology Preview” feature lets you transfer RAW photos by connecting your Android device with your camera using a USB On-The-Go adapter (aka OTG cable) via PTP transfer mode (found in the Android Notification Center). Learn more about the new features of Lightroom 2.2 in this blog post.

07. Adobe XD 1.2

A free app lets you preview the designs you create in Adobe XD right on your Android device

Adobe made big splash last year with the release of its Sketch rival, the prototyping app Experience Design (aka XD). 

But while this software is mainly intended for use on the desktop, a related app helps you to eliminate guesswork by previewing your Adobe XD designs, complete with transitions, on Android devices. This is done in real time via USB (macOS only) or by loading them from Creative Cloud files.

The latest version of the app, version 1.2, allows you to view XD documents when offline, browse document artboards, share your current screen as an image, and enable or disable hotspot hints.

Which new Android apps have we missed? Let us know in the comments below!