Four apps with better features than Instagram's Layout
Instagram's Layout app came out recently, but there were already a ton of collage apps to choose from and many of them are better.
Jason ParkerSenior Editor / Reviews - Software
Jason Parker has been at CNET for nearly 15 years. He is the senior editor in charge of iOS software and has become an expert reviewer of the software that runs on each new Apple device. He now spends most of his time covering Apple iOS releases and third-party apps.
Instagram released Layout a couple of weeks ago, and while it's easy to use and has a lot of polish, collage apps are nothing new. There are already tons of collage makers in the App Store, and many offer more features, more collage layouts, and other useful photo-editing tools.
Obviously, Instagram's Layout app has a distinct advantage with both the Facebook and Instagram audiences, so it will have more reach than smaller-time apps. But that doesn't mean it's the only app you can use to make collages for Instagram.
I've put together my short list of four collage apps that do more than Instagram's Layout so you can decide for yourself which is right for you.
Diptic has been around for five years but continues to update regularly with more features, and it is an old favorite of mine for making collages.
With Diptic, you start by picking from 34 standard layouts, but there are also tabs across the top to choose Jumbo, Fancy, or Fresh layouts, each with several unique styles that get away from the standard grid theme. You also can adjust the frames and borders, and add text to your collages to call out the action.
Diptic is an easy way to create quick collages, and lets you share your work on Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, and Tumblr. The app also supports exporting directly to other apps that support JPEG images like Camera+, Dropbox, and most notably, Instagram.
FotoRus lets you make you make standard collages like Instagram Layout, but also offers a number of other features and cool ways to display your images. You can start by selecting a layout, but you'll also be able to add photo filters to each image in the collage to make the pictures pop.
Whether you go for the standard collage style or something a little more exciting, this app also gives you an additional interesting twist on the collage. By choosing the magazine feature, FotoRus will display your photos so they look like a magazine layout. Additionally, there's a button to shift the different elements around until you get a look you like. It also lets you replace the text in the magazine theme to fit your photo selections.
FotoRus does display ads that can get a little annoying, but for the features you get with this free app, it's hard to complain.
Frametastic is another app that's been around for a long time, but it has cool options that make it easy to recommend. You can choose from a whole array of frame layouts and then adjust the aspect ratio to fit the service you want to post to (such as Instagram).
Frametastic has a couple more features to make a good choice. If you so desire, you can add different filter effects to each and every photo in your collage to make your project unique. It also has a video option that animates your collage to zoom in on each photo in succession.
Frametastic has a number of in-app purchases (including the video option), but they're all priced at 99 cents so you can pick and choose which ones you want.
Grid Lens is slightly different than the other apps in this collection. With this app, the frames of your collage are what you see out of your actual iPhone camera lens in real time. You can also use images from your photo library (by touching and holding a single frame), but the concept behind Grid Lens will enable you to make more than just collages.
By having each frame of your collage a live view through your camera's viewfinder, you can touch each frame to snap a new photo. This means when you're at a party, for example, you could walk around and tap each frame as you take a photo of different people. In effect, you're creating a collage on the fly, snapping each photo as you go.
Other options let you adjust the frame color and thickness and make sure your aspect ratio is set properly (for Instagram or other social networks). It also has a timer that lets you shoot each frame of the collage and you can set the interval between shots. This will let you, for example, shoot pictures of a car as it goes by, adding a new view to your collage as the app takes each picture.