App

Our favorite apps for adding words to your iPhone snaps

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but there’s still room for words when it comes to your own pictures. In this round-up, we’ve chosen four fantastic apps for adding text to photos. Each offers a different approach, meaning whatever your requirements, you’ll find one to suit. And to give more insight into the capabilities of these apps, we’ve shown how to get creative with them.

Retype

$2.99/£2.29 • v1.0.2 • 55.6 MB • By Sumoing Ltd

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Retype is all about automation and speed. Instead of laboriously designing a typographic layout on top of a photo the app does everything for you. All you need to do is select a photo and choose a style; each tap then brings a new iconic poster-like design.

The flip-side is you surrender control. That said, although you cannot move individual words and objects, you can filter the photo, and adjust the text’s color, opacity and blur. With a single tap, you can also invert your entire composition, having your image appear inside the text.

We’d like to see a cropping tool in an update, and access to iCloud albums, but otherwise Retype is fun, fast and effective.

How to use Retype

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Retype initially displays an example. Tap the picture button (top left) to access your Camera Roll. The albums button (top left, depicted) enables access to local albums. Select a photo from one of these places.

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Tap the example text and either tap the refresh button to load a new phrase or type your own words. Tap the tick button when done.

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Back in the main view, drag the styles bar to check out available options for changing the look of your text. Every time you tap one of the buttons, it will refresh the typographic layout.

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Tap the toolbar’s settings button (far right). Select Blur and drag the slider a little way along. Tap Opacity and then the invert button to the right of the slider. Your (blurred) image now appears inside the text. Tap the tick and then save or share your image.

Fontmania

$4.99/£3.99 • v1.1 • 26.2 MB • By Apalon Apps

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Although Fontmania has a similar kind of design smarts to Retype, it very much wants you to do the hard graft yourself. You therefore select an image, which can be filtered, and then go about manually adding text and decorative objects.

In each case, you can have multiple elements, and these can be individually resized and aligned, with text automatically reflowing if it would otherwise sit outside the canvas.

There’s plenty of scope for creating interesting art, in part due to the built-in shapes, which range from basic polygons through to decorative frames. And although selection is fiddly if you’ve many items on the canvas, Fontmania is largely friendly and usable; it also feels a very ‘complete’ app, with its single purchase price that eschews IAP.

How to use Fontmania

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On opening Fontmania, you’ll see the Camera Roll. Tap an icon at the top-right to use the camera or select from your albums. (iCloud albums are not supported – only local ones.) On choosing a photo, tap the crop button to switch between ‘original’ and square.

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Tap the tick button to continue, and then Text. Type some words and then Done. Use the sidebar buttons to adjust your text’s style (font, alignment, color, and so on). You can move/resize/rotate the text using standard iOS drag/pinch/rotate gestures.

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Tap the red back arrow and then Art. Browse the frames, separators, shapes and artworks, and tap any you’d like to add. Each can be adjusted in the same manner as text objects.

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When you’ve multiple items, select one to bring up the sidebar with relevant editing options. The red cross enables you to delete the current item, but be careful: there’s no undo. Use the Share button when done to save your work.

Typic

$2.99/£2.29 • v5.8 • 45.5 MB • By Hi Mom S.A.S

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Typic benefits strongly from a very clear workflow, taking you in a step-by-step manner through adding text and decorative elements to a photo. Each ‘page’ of tools is intended for a very specific set of tasks, which reduces clutter, whether you’re adjusting an image, adding text, or changing an item’s properties.

There are some weird limitations, most notably the app only allowing for a maximum of four text boxes and four other objects. Still, we reckon only the most elaborate wannabe iPhone typographers will feel hemmed in, and we very much like Typic’s sense of focus. Also, it works with shared iCloud photos, meaning you needn’t copy images to your local albums to use them.

How to use Typic

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Use the Camera or Library button to get a photo from your camera or any photos accessible to your device (including iCloud shared albums). Select a format option — original or square. If the image is cropped, use the Crop button and pinch gestures to make it fill the space.

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Swipe the lower half of the screen to the left to view the filters (where you can adjust the image and add light effects) and again to view the text tools. Tap Add Text, then double tap the text box and type some words. Choose a font by tapping on an option from the selection below.

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Move a text box and a grid appears to aid with positioning. The button with a dot in the middle centers the currently selected object. When an object is selected, you can also swipe the lower half of the screen again to access color and tools (shadow/spacing/opacity) options. Move back and forth between the ‘add text’ and ‘text tools’ panes as necessary, adding and editing up to four text boxes.

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Swipe again to access ‘designs’ (icons, doodles, and the like) and color/tools for them. One final swipe and you’ll see the export page, where you can save or share your work. There’s also a mask option, for painting out bits of your text, should you want to more fully integrate it with the background.

Over

Free + IAP • v3.2.5 • 63.3 MB • By Over

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Over feels the most ‘pro’ of the apps in this round-up, in the sense of it having features that echo those found in powerful photo-editing tools like Pixelmator. It does all the basics, as you’d expect, in terms of adding text and artwork that can then be adjusted and fine-tuned. However, Over offers excellent precision tools for placement, layers that can be viewed and rearranged, and even the means to add more images to your composition — ideal for working on collages.

It feels a lot more like you get a blank canvas here, rather than merely being an app to slap text on images. In fact, you can just play around with text and art objects if you like, avoiding photos entirely. Whatever you’re working on is saved as a project, enabling you to go back and play with it later — great for fine-tuning more complex compositions. And there’s also support for landscape, which proves handy when working with images in that orientation.

How to use Over

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Tap New. There’s no assumption what you’ll add – you can just work with text if you like. However, for now choose Background and you’ll see your Camera Roll. Drag down if you want to access albums (tap on All Photos). Select one and choose a crop type. (Options include common ratios and sizes designed for social media). Tap Done.

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Tap Text and Over will automatically set you up to start typing. Add some words and tap Done. Swipe the fonts pane left/right to choose one, and an individual font name up/down if there are available variants. Text can at any point be dragged, rotated and resized using standard iOS gestures.

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At the bottom of the screen are tools you can use to adjust the selected text’s color, shadow and opacity. Additionally, there are precision tools for things like spacing and rotation, for example if you want text set at exactly 45 degrees. Tap Done when finished.

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You can keep adding further items, including images, which can be blurred, tinted and blended. The layers button at the top of the screen enables you to rearrange your project’s objects at any point. This affords great creative scope for collages and images with textured overlays. When finished, use the Share button to start the export process.

The best of the rest

Legend

$1.99/£1.49 • 57.2 MB • v1.1.1 • By Stupeflix

Place animated text over an image, all with a couple of taps. You can then output your work to videos or animated GIF.

Download Legend

Phoster

$1.99/£1.49 • 60.7 MB • v1.5.6 • By Bucket Labs

Create posters based on great-looking templates. Easy to use but desperately in need of updating for recent versions of iOS.

Download Phoster

PicLab

Free + IAP • 67.9 MB • v3.14 • By MuseWorks, Inc.

Free editor for adding text, borders and textures, with a streamlined, user-friendly interface. IAP removes watermarks.

Download PicLab

Quick

Free + IAP • 24.6 MB • v2.2.0 • By Over

Fast, efficient app for doing a quick crop, adding colored text, and exporting. A one-off IAP unlocks extra fonts and removes watermarks.

Download Quick

Word Swag

$3.99/£2.99 • 35.7 MB • v2.0.5 • By Oringe Inc.

More or less Retype without the ‘randomness’ — each style of text gives you five set options. Simple to use, and outputs decent results.

Download Word Swag