With the latest smartphones, smart phone photography is finally getting good enough for print quality. At 8 megapixels, you’re getting more resolution than you need to for most prints you’ll keep in your house. Adding to your convenience is a whole slew of new apps that allow you to order prints wherever you’re shooting. You could go from snapping a photo, touching it up, and printing it within minutes -all without going anywhere. Here are some of the best apps for printing your iPhone photos.
The most satisfying way to print your photos from your iPhone or Android phone is to avoid dealing with home-based printers in the first place (I have a terrible relationship with my printer and I genuinely believe they are out to ruin my life).
The Lifepics app
[Available in US, New Zealand and Australia]
Lifepics is a network of photo printers spread throughout the world. There are a number of stores that participate. They include your local office supplies store, a few pharmacies, and some grocery stores.
When you download the Lifepics app (download for iPhone, Android, Windows Phone), you are asked to create an account and enter your zip Code. Lifepics then looks for participating photo printers in your local area. If it finds any within a ten mile radius, they are displayed on a map with options for you to choose from (you can also increase the search radius if you happen to live outside of the big city).
This is the perfect solution for people who want to print their photos but don't own a printer or are generally wary of consumer printers for printing photos (as I very clearly am). I happen to live off in the country, so it wasn't very useful for me. The nearest retailer was some twenty miles away, but it might be different in your town. I’d suggest at least giving it a try.
The Walgreens App
[United States Only]
Walgreens allows you to order quick prints from your phone. If you are planning a trip to the pharmacy, you can upload your photos one hour before you arrive, and they will be printed by the time you get there.
This is a wonderful tool if you happen to have a Walgreens nearby. To my knowledge, there are no other pharmacy apps that allow you to order prints directly from your phone, so you might want to consider this next option.
[United States Only]
It is surprising to me that none of the other photo printing sites have managed to do what this one little startup has accomplished. You would think that some of the more familiar names like Snapfish and Shutterfly would have gotten on this right away, but no. Their horribly featureless photo apps only allow you to upload your images to their server (as if you need extra space when you’ve got iCloud). You cannot actually order prints, and if you read the reviews for these apps, you’ll find a lot of disgruntled customers that simply want to order photos.
Postal pix (download for iPhone only) allows you to do just that. I played around with it, and it was one of the simplest apps for ordering photos that I have ever used. You simply create an account, pick the type of prints you would like to receive in the mail, and then you pick the photo from your library that you would like to print. The app does the rest.
One thing I really like is that there are very few choices. You don't feel paralyzed by all of the options being put in front of you. When you can only choose from a few basic sizes, you are much more likely to actually go ahead with the purchase and print the photos.
I also really like the prices. For the quality of the prints you are getting, it is far better than purchasing a printer and photo paper.
The only real issue I can see with this app is the time it takes to receive the photos. Most photos arrive within 7 to 9 days, and that might simply not be fast enough for some people. If you are the fairly patient type of person, however, it is well worth it.
Printing to your own printer
If you happen to have a high-quality photo printer just lying around your house, you can always print your photos to that instead. The iPhone supports airplay printing. If you have a printer with airplay printing enabled, you simply tap the print option from the photos app, set up your printer, and send the print off.
To get started, go to the Photos app and select the image you want to print. Next, tap the export arrow in the bottom left-hand corner of the photo. You will then be presented with a list of options for sharing the photo, some of which include tweeting and others. Tap the print button to print to your airplay printer.
At one point, there were other apps for printing your photos from your phone. That was before Apple included printing in the iOS software for the iPhone. These days, that is a thing of the past. You can still get third-party printing apps for your iPhone, but the process of printing from them is incredibly convoluted and awkward. You have to keep a third-party app open on your Mac computer at home in order to access the printer. It kind of goes without saying, but if you have to do that why not simply email the photos to your computer and save your self the hassle?
Even though you can print your photos from your iPhone straight to some printer models, I still wouldn’t recommend it. Most consumer printers are advertised for their ability to create great looking prints, but that is only if you are willing to adopt a highly technical mindset. You will need to purchase the right paper for your prints. You will also need to fine tune the printing process to get a good result.
With all the effort you have to go through, and the extra cost involved, in the end it's much easier to get your photos printed by a prolab. There, you're guaranteed a good print because they take care of all the hassles for you. In my opinion, even the local pharmacy is better than your printer. What do you think?
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