There's nothing better than finding one of those rare apps that seems to do the impossible. Every time I try a piece of software, I have a tiny hope that it will be so good that I'll want to describe it as magic. As a photo editor, Handy Photo is definitely invoking some kind of witchcraft. This impressive app comes from ADVA Soft, the brilliant team responsible for TouchRetouch. Many of the same amazing powers have made their way into this new entry, but it goes much further. Let's just start with the video, which despite the marketing speak in the beginning, is pretty mind-blowing.

Is your mind blown yet? Well, it should be. The developers definitely have some pretty neat tricks up their sleeves. Un-cropping is the real show stopper, creating additional scenery by just dragging out the edge of a picture. After playing around with the feature quite a bit, I've seen that it's prone to some odd rubber-stamp effects, but it is still very powerful and definitely useful. The retouching tools make use of the same algorithm as un-crop and are equally effective in removing photobombers and other undesirable objects. This technique even makes it possible to relocate elements by selecting them and simply dragging to a new location. Take a look at what I did to one of my photos from Building 44.

2012-09-27 11.52.44image1

Left: original photo, Right: modified with Handy Photo

The first thing I tried was un-cropping my picture on the right side. This obviously left an alarmingly visible artifact in the bottom right corner, but that would be easy to fix with some more tinkering. The important thing to notice is a nearly perfect extension of the shrubs, grass, and path. Those are the things that would take a long time to do well with Photoshop, while fixing the path would be trivial. I also removed the left eye and right antenna from the Jelly Bean statue, along with the white bean at the edge of the shadow. Among the removals, only the antenna left a noticeable mark.


Of course, Handy Photo isn't just about hiding evidence distractions and blemishes, it also features adjustments to color balance, auto levels, and several other properties. At this point, it's fair to draw comparisons to recently popular app, Snapseed. Both offer an efficient interface for modifying values with a single gesture, but Snapseed is more flexible with the ability to constrain adjustments to selected areas of an image.

Finally, users are also able to apply filters and textures to photos. None of this is anything substantially different from what we've seen in Instagram and the like, but we get a bit more power and quality here. Just like the basic modifiers, each filter has some options and can be tweaked to taste.


At present, the app can be a bit unstable and does not do any auto-saving. Needless to say, this could be frustrating if it force closes just as your work of art is nearing completion. During my tests, I did have a crash, but this is version 1.0, so I expect reliability to get much better in future releases. Considering how efficiently the interface handles edits and the sheer power it has to offer, I feel that the rough edges are easy to overlook. Handy Photo won't replace Photoshop anytime soon, but for a mobile image editor, it is setting the bar very high. At only $1.99 on the Play Store, there are few apps I can recommend more easily.

Update: In response to many negative comments in the Play Store due to crashes and broken functionality (some of which we experienced too), the team behind Handy Photo issues this statement to Android Police:

Dear Artem,

We are grateful for publishing an article about Handy Photo. It really helped to promote the app and increased the number of those who
decided to download it.

Unfortunately, we are currently getting many negative comments on the app performance, and we are really sorry about that. We must admit that the app doesn’t deserve to be rated high, at least for now. It doesn’t work the way it should.

In fact, we didn’t expect Handy Photo for Android to cause the reaction so different from that of Handy Photo for iOS. We just wanted
to launch both apps the same day.

Now we are doing our best to fix the bugs to improve the situation.

Accept our sincere apologies for the inconvenience caused.

Best regards,
Handy Photo Development Team

So expect bug fixes soon and try to give Handy Photo another chance after an update or two. Bugs happen, especially when marketing rushes engineering, so let's give these guys a break and see if they can straighten everything out, shall we?

Cody Toombs
Cody is a Software Engineer and Writer with a mildly overwhelming obsession with smartphones and the mobile world. If he’s been pulled away from the computer for any length of time, you might find him talking about cocktails and movies, sometimes resulting in the consumption of both.

  • Doug Turner

    If only an equally as amazing video editor could be found...

  • philnolan3d

    Well, the results look OK, not great but it could be worse. For $2 it's cheaper than Photoshop Touch, which I've been very happy with. I did have to laugh at how the video talked about the amazing and wondrous interface, which I found really ugly.

  • New_Guy

    I've used Touch/Retouch (also made by ADVA Soft) and I loved that app and recognized that lasso effect. This looks pretty amazing and I just bought it. I've been looking for an app that can process those high-rez photos.

  • Blake Ourso

    Another sponsored article?

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

      If this was a sponsored article, you would have known about it, right in the title.

      • Blake Ourso

        lol ;)

        "these are not the droids you're looking for"

        I get it.

  • Shawn Suther

    i cant remember the last time i rolled my eyes so constantly at a marketing hyperbole and (corporate)-self-aggrandizement. ugh. talked me right out of even trying that app.

    "you cant help but be amazed...!!" really? try me.

    • Dipish

      Hm, I watched the video without sound and didn't get such impression :)

    • Régis Knechtel

      Apple LOVES to do that too.

  • abhisahara

    One ughhhhh....stilll using HTC Desire to showcase Android availability !

    • primalxconvoy

      That phone was filthy and disgusting.

  • http://www.vinsonimages.com yamaha83


  • spydie

    Being a beta-tester for the OSX version of Touch Retouch, this has some of the features I was asking them for. It still lacks the ability to work on two photos at the same time and brush (clone) from one photo to the other that I'm still hoping to do someday. I also had lots of crashes and total lockups on my Note 2 and the "saving" when it asks you if you want to save always lost all my work. But they tell me they are working on those problems. I'm also asking them to bring this to OSX like their Touch Retouch for larger screen work.

  • http://twitter.com/kstagg Kevin Stagg

    It is pretty slick, but after reading about the 10+ (ten) downloads and the number of crashes folks have had with it on late-model devices - I'm more than happy with my Photoshop Touch. I wish Adobe had created an interface as intuitive as that though.

  • http://twitter.com/c0z Nicole Cozma

    This app has 10-50 installs. Out of those who rated (10 total), 6 of them were 2 stars. Comments suggest it isn't worth the headache -- pass.

  • Guy Hoang

    No crashes on my Razr Maxx HD. Love the app.

  • MN

    Constant crashes on my Note.That's reality. Nothing amazing about it.

  • Simon Belmont

    I like Pixlr Express. It's also free.

    Not that I have a problem with paying for apps, mind you, as I've bought tons. I just really like Pixlr Express.

  • http://blog.ravrahn.net/ Owen Cassidy

    I can't even get a minute into that video. I'm sure the app works great, but I feel like if I go any further into this demo I will be psychologically damaged from pure marketing speak.

  • BigMixxx

    it takes BALLS to make that statement.

    SO, I'll purchase and wait it out. it can do nothing but get better...

  • primalxconvoy

    Could Android police re-review this app once a stable version is out, please?

  • Melvin

    I'm interested. Correct me if I'm wrong, but it looks like the headline features are "uncropping" which I don't see myself using all that much, object removal, which I might see myself using a little, and object extraction, which has me wondering if it will work well when used on everyday phone photos not super clear stock photos.

    • http://codytoombs.wordpress.com/ Cody Toombs

      Everything else in the toolbox is similar to stuff in a hundred other filter-centric apps, but the modification tools are pretty distinctive. If you can't see using this stuff on a phone, then it might be better to use Snapseed, Instagram, or a full scale image editor on a laptop/desktop. I only tested with one high quality stock photo, almost every other photo was taken on my HTC Inspire 4g (8 MP camera with very mediocre quality). Most of my edits on those photos came out really well, so it handled noisy photos better than I would have expected. As always, YMMV, but it ultimately depends on how much you want to edit photos on your phone or tablet.

  • http://profiles.google.com/kstagg Kevin Stagg

    Photoshop Touch is magnificent and the best photo editor around. Does everything Handy Photo does and more.