How Much Does It Cost to Implement Photo Editing Functionality in a Web App

The rise of social media has increased the importance of photo editing functionality. Whether you want to post a touching quote on Facebook, create infographics for your website, or improve photos from your latest trip, you need to use image editing software. Web-based photo editing apps can deal with all these tasks.

Online photo editors are fast, convenient, and compatible with all major browsers; and most importantly, they offer a range of image editing tools suitable for various needs. We'll tell you which photo tools you can find in different types of web editors, how to implement photo editing functionality in your web app, and how much that will cost you.

Types of web-based photo editors

What's the difference between mobile and web photo editing apps? It isn't only the size of your workspace. Mobile photo editing apps mostly satisfy the needs of millennials who want to impress with new filters or whimsical stickers. Browser photo editors have a wider range of purposes and target a wider range of users. There are three types of photo editing web apps:

1) Apps to design images for social media. Easy-to-use photo editing tools help create social media graphics. Use of visual content such as images and infographics drives user engagement and increases return on investment.

[image]

[Source - NeoMam Studios]

Apps like Canva, Pablo, Stencil, and Snappa allow you to make announcements, promotions, quotes, and other types of visual content for social channels. Users can choose a template, size, shape (for posting on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or Instagram), filters, text, logos, and more. In addition, such apps help you find free high-resolution stock photos that can be used as background images.

[image]

[Source - Pablo]

2) Photo editors embedded in social web apps. All platforms with user-generated content that includes images have built-in photo editing tools. These tools let users make simple edits to their uploaded files. For example, Facebook has tools for cropping, filters, text, and stickers. Users can edit their photos immediately after uploading to the social network. This photo editing service is convenient because there's no need to launch separate desktop or web image editing software.

3) Professional web image editing software. Pixlr, Fotor, Aviary, PicMonkey, and BeFunky offer a wide range of advanced editing tools such as color and lighting adjustments, beauty retouching, animation effects, and graphic design. Contrary to Photoshop and other professional editing software, they're simple to use and have plenty of free tools, so they attract not only experienced photographers but also amateurs.

[image]

[Source - PicMonkey]

Yet a lot of photographers still prefer desktop software like Adobe Photoshop Lightroom or Affinity Photo to website applications. The main reason is that web-based apps still lack some essentials for photographers - tools such as pixel improvements, dust and scratch filters, focus merge, and black point and vibrance adjustments - that are present in desktop programs. In addition, web apps don't work with the RAW file format, which is a better option for professionals, and don't allow you to edit images in sets but make you upload and edit them one by one.

[image]

[Source - Affinity Photo]

How do photo editing web apps work?

The process of image editing is the same for all types of web-based editors, and consists of three steps:

  1. Upload. It's advantageous when an app allows users not only to upload images from a device gallery, but also to access images from social networks or cloud storage. For instance, Fotor allows you to upload photos from Facebook and Dropbox, and Aviary allows you to upload from your webcam or from Adobe Creative Cloud.
  2. Edit. There are a variety of editing tools apps can possess, including basic editing tools, photo effects, and graphic design and decorating tools. Professional image editing apps also offer users different beauty enhancement tools such as red-eye removal and whitening.
  3. Save and share. After editing an image, users should be able either to save the photo to their device's gallery or share it on social media, for example on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, or Instagram.

The main step is obviously the actual image editing. The quantity and variety of editing tools vary depending on the app and its purpose. For example, editors built into social web apps typically offer only several basic photo editing tools, while professional apps give access to a multitude of graphic design and decorative elements. Here are the most essential image editing tools.

Image editing features

We've classified all features of image editing apps into five groups.

Basic editing tools. This group includes tools for working with image size and shape (crop, rotate, flip, and resize), color and lighting adjustment (brightness, contrast, saturation, sharpness, warmth, exposure, highlights, and shadows), and automatic enhancement (one-click image improvement).

[image]

[Source - Aviary]

Effects. This category includes filters that users can apply to their photos. After the overwhelming success of Prisma we've seen a trend of painting-like filters that can turn photos into pieces of art. For instance, GoART, powered by Fotor, offers 35 filters in structuralist, surrealist, impressionist, and other styles.

[image]

[Source - GoART]

Decoration tools. These tools let you add stickers, frames, overlays, and text to images, which makes photos more interesting and unique. Certain photo editing platforms - Picozu, for instance - also have drawing tools such as pencils, brushes, and an eraser. One popular decoration tool is the collage, which lets you combine several photos to tell more than one picture can express.

[image]

[Source - PicMonkey]

Graphic design tools. Apps to design images for social media have an extensive set of graphic design elements such as templates (for social media posts, banner ads, events, announcements), logos, watermarks, graphics, and text (with a variety of fonts), and allow you to resize for major social media channels (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest).

[image]

[Source - Pablo]

Beauty enhancement tools. This is the biggest group of tools. Beauty enhancement tools help improve certain parts of an image, remove unwanted objects, highlight important areas, and enhance portraits. The tools belonging to this group are blemish fix, skin smoothing, red-eye and wrinkle removal, whitening, color splash, vignette, blur, tilt shift, bokeh, and lens flare.

[image]

[Source - Fotor]

Because of the great number of tools and features that photo editors possess, developing an image editing app may turn into a long and difficult process. The cost to build such an app can be high. Besides, to create an image editing web app you need to have expertise in image processing and do a lot of research (exploring existing libraries and frameworks for photo editing apps). However, if you want your app to have embedded photo editing features, developing from scratch isn't the only solution. We'll tell you how to implement photo editing features in your app and how much it will cost you.

How to create photo editing functionality in your web app

Developing a photo editing app from scratch is a time-consuming and expensive process that requires experience in this area, but we can offer you the following alternative: integrate photo editing features into your web app using an Application Programming Interface (API).

We've chosen Aviary's API for the purposes of our article. Aviary's API is well-documented and offers a complete and customizable toolset. Additional benefits are that it's supported and it's free (unlike some other apps; for example, Picozu offers several kinds of paid subscriptions for developers).

The Aviary SDK is part of the Adobe Creative SDK. The Adobe Creative SDK provides developers with access to a multitude of UI components and creative tools that can easily be integrated into web apps. Additionally, it allows users to upload and save images to Creative Cloud storage as well as publish to Behance.

[image]

[Source - Adobe Creative SDK]

The Aviary Web SDK provides the following set of tools:

  • Automatic enhancement options
  • More than 100 effects (filters)
  • Size, color, and lighting adjustments (resize, crop, flip, rotate, brightness, warmth, contrast, saturation, and sharpness)
  • Decoration options (frames, overlays, stickers, drawing, text, memes)
  • Cosmetic tools (blemish fix, whitening, red-eye removal)

Because the Aviary SDK belongs to the Adobe Creative SDK, before integrating Aviary's API into your web app you need to register your app to connect to the Creative SDK. When you register, you'll get a Client ID (API Key) and Client Secret values. With the API Key, you can authenticate your app to get access to the components of the Creative SDK. You'll automatically be approved for "Development Mode" for integration and testing.

[image]

[Source - Adobe Creative SDK]

You can work with a variety of components that the Web Creative SDK offers. The following developer guides are available: Asset Browser UI, Image Editor UI, Image Editor UI Hi-Res API, User Auth UI, and Creative Cloud Files API. Each guide is simple to understand and has examples.

Before releasing your app, it's necessary to complete one more step: get your app approved for production by Adobe. In order to do this, you should complete a form with details of your integration and attach up to ten screenshots. These details include the app's name, URL, category, Creative SDK components, integration description, and information about your company.

Review of this form can take up to five workdays. When your app is approved, the "Development Mode" on your dashboard will be changed to "Production Mode," meaning your app is ready for release.

How much does it cost to integrate photo editing features into your web app?

Aviary's API is well-documented and easy to integrate, so doing so will take an experienced developer only 6 to 10 hours depending on the components included.

The pricing is as follows:

 

North America (US and Canada)

$300-$1500 for 6 hours

$500-$2500 for 10 hours

($50-$250 per hour)

Western Europe

$180-$1050 for 6 hours

$300-$1750 for 10 hours

($30-$175 per hour)

Eastern Europe

$120-$900 for 6 hours

$200-$1500 for 10 hours

($20-$150 per hour)

Yalantis

$210-$350

 

If you want to add your own extra features to the app - for instance, if you want to build one more filter or a new set of stickers - the development cost will increase. The time spent on each new component will start from 8 hours, but can take a while depending on the complexity.

The cost of creating each new component will start from:

 

North America (US and Canada)

$400-$2000+ ($50-$250 per hour)

Western Europe

$240-$1400+ ($30-$175 per hour)

Eastern Europe

$160-$1200+ ($20-$150 per hour)

Yalantis

$280+


 

Five tips to develop a compelling photo editor

The main challenge with photo editing apps is the competitive market. You might be worried that if you make a photo editor application with an API, your app will possess all the same features as others. Thus, you won't be able to build a unique app. However, as we mentioned at the beginning of our article, success in the sphere of photo editors depends on more than functionality and technologies.

Here are a few tips that can help you attract users and retain a loyal user base for your web app:

  • Design an attractive interface

Some apps offer extensive functionality but have boring interfaces. For example, LunaPic is a web editor with plenty of essential and even unique tools, such as water reflections and pouring rain effects. Yet this editor's interface is plain and dated. With a more appealing interface, an editor is likely to engage more new users.

  • Regularly update your tools

Users who are interested in photo editing or do it regularly will get to know all your app's features pretty quickly and can get bored working with the same tools every time they upload pictures. You need to update your app's tools (stickers, filters, fonts) so users will want to return to the app time and time again. Fotor regularly updates its decoration tools. This summer, they created a free collection of fun summery stickers.

[image]

[Source - Fotor]

  • Provide certain unique features for free

Offering unique features for free can attract a lot of users to your app. If people see that they can find tools in your app that are paid in other photo editors, they'll be enthusiastic to try it out. This can help grow a loyal user base. For instance, Aviary allows users to create memes for free, though a lot of editors have this as a paid feature.

  • Give users opportunities to improve their skills

It's important to let your users grow as artists. You can make tutorials to teach users about advanced photo editing or start a blog with inspiring interviews of famous photographers and the latest news from the world of photography.

[image]

[Source - PicMonkey]

In addition, you can create several levels of complexity in your app. For example, Pixlr offers Pixlr Express for beginners and Pixlr Editor for more experienced users. When people realize that the Express app is too easy for them, they don't need to find a new program, but can continue their self-development in the Pixlr app with more advanced features.
Also, some photo editors let users discover works that others have created with the app. In Aviary it's possible to see not only other people's original and edited images, but also all step-by-step changes together with the tools used.

[image]

[Source - Aviary]

  • Choose the right monetization model for your app

In-app purchases is the most common way to monetize a photo editing app. Almost all photo editors offer certain exclusive features - extra filters, new sets of stickers, or tools for portrait retouching. For instance, in Fotor, out of 37 sets of filters, 17 are paid, including beauty enhancement tools such as smoothing, blush, reshaping, and eye tint.

In addition to in-app purchases, some photo editors offer premium subscriptions. Photo editing fans can get unique functionality for a relatively small monthly or yearly amount. For example, a subscription to BeFunky Plus provides users with 100+ additional effects, 350+ frames, and the ability to work in a full screen workspace without flashing ads.

[image]

[Source - BeFunky]

Although the competition among web photo editors is high, there's always some room for creativity and something unique. Image editing tools can improve the user experience of any app. So attract a big user base and make your web app stand out with photo editing functionality.

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