NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- As the quality of smartphone cameras continue to improve, consumers will gradually replace their digital cameras with those found in their smartphones, according to analyst firm iSuppli.
Also, because many point-and-shoot cameras aren't connected to the Internet, camera phones make it quicker and easier for users to send and share photos to friends via social networks.
App developers, in turn, have started to integrate cameras into their programs in innovative ways. Read on for our top iPhone camera app picks.
Instagram dolls up digital photos with visual effects that make photos appear as if they were Polaroids shot in the 1970s. Once you've snapped a photo, you choose from 11 borders and filters that transform the color, mood and tone of the shot.
Users can then seamlessly post the snapshots to their Instagram accounts or social networks like
. They can also browse other user's photos and write comments.
Instagram has more than 1.7 million users who post 300,000 photos a day, and the site launched just four months ago. Earlier this month, the company closed a $7 million funding round from venture firm Benchmark Capital; other investors include Silicon Valley folks like former Facebook CTO Adam D'Angelo and Twitter founder Jack Dorsey.
Instagram said they will use the funds to hire more engineers -- the company currently employs four people -- and to build an Android app.
Go Try It On
Go Try It On serves as a personal wardrobe consultant, advising you on your outfit before you leave the house. Once you've snapped a photo of your look, you can add descriptions like brand and context around what type of event you're about to attend -- i.e. a cocktail party or an interview. You then upload the photo to the app; for us, feedback and comments from the site's members showed up in about 30 minutes. (the verdict: return the outfit to the closet!)
The site allows you to blur-out your face for privacy; you can also choose to keep the outfit "private" so it's shared with just friends through e-mail, Facebook and Twitter.
The company, which also operates a Go Try It On Web site, has raised an undisclosed amount of funding from Index Ventures' seed fund and angel investors. The app has more than 150,000 users since launching in November.
RedLaser has shoppers scan bar codes of products with their camera phone; the app then pulls up reviews and information on where to buy the item at the best price possible. For example, snap a photo of a book's bar code while standing in
Barnes & Noble
, and Red Laser will search all competitors -- nearby independent book shops,
-- and will display a list of prices. RedLaser integrates with library catalog WorldCat, and can also locate books at local libraries.
Besides books, the app can be used to gauge prices from items like electronics, movies, and groceries.
One of the app's coolest features pulls up nutritional information when scanning a food item. If you have an allergy to something like gluten or peanuts, the app will tell you if the product contains this ingredient.
Foodspotting uses GPS to track your location, and then displays
of the best food around you. Diners take photos of their favorite eats and upload them to Foodspotting. App users can then look up particular restaurants to see what other eaters like to dine on there, find a particular dish they're craving and bookmark food they want to try.
You can also access dining guides put together by experts like
The Travel Channel
to find the best food in different cities. The app will work anywhere in the world.
Foodspotting, which launched last March, has more 450,000 users, according to the company.
Word Lens uses the iPhone camera to translate printed words instantly from one language to another, with no Wifi or network connection required. The app, which can translate from English to Spanish and vice versa, uses augmented reality to translate any printed text, like that on signs, menus, books, etc.
Word Lens's technology is truly impressive -- the app replaces the exact text you see in the same size and style with no delay. Our only complaint was that the words on the screen tended to continually flip back and forth between Spanish and English, so it was sometimes hard to read a sentence unless we held our hand perfectly still.
The app is free to download, but it costs $9.99 to download the Spanish dictionary. Other European languages are coming soon, according to the company.
CBS' Eye Mobile app lets anyone become a citizen journalist by snapping photos and videos on their phone and uploading them to CBS. While
also has a similar component to its own app through its iReport initiative, CBS EyeReport is devoted exclusively to user-generated content.
The app also lets you browse other journalist's reports and visit the CBS News site in a smart, mobile-designed format. Stories are easily filtered at the top of the app, with categories including human interest, politics, sports and weather. Users can vote on stories they deem newsworthy, follow other reporter and leave comments on stories.
While the idea of having folks-on-the-street break news is a promising one -- particularly if the stories turn out to be useful and regionally-focused -- we were not impressed with the content quality on Eye Mobile. Local news was not broken out, and the app was cluttered with irrelevant photos such as a dog stuck in the snow and an ad for teeth whitening.
Springpad app helps you organize your world, eliminating the need for agenda books and Sticky notes. You can snap photos using your camera phone or scan the barcode of items you want to remember later, and jot down tasks (pick up milk) or reminders (the name of a restaurant suggested by a friend). The app also helps users save Web pages, such as a recipe they might want to try.
One of the coolest features of Springpad sends users coupons and alerts that are relevant to items they've saved on the app. For example, if you save the Web page of a book and the price drops online, Springpad will send a notification. Also if you save a recipe for meatloaf, the app might send a link to a coupon for ketchup.
The app is also integrated with daily deal sites like
, to let you know if a restaurant you've tagged has a special offer.
Cyclopedia uses your iPhone's camera and GPS to let you learn more about the places and things around you by overlaying
information on the viewfinder. When you point your phone in different directions, various articles will pop up about landmarks and historic landmarks. For example, if you're in downtown New York, Wikipedia entries pop up about the Statue of Liberty or the World Trade Center.
When opening the app for the first time, it looks for all the articles within 30 miles of your location. You can adjust the search radius to make a smaller circle.
Cyclopedia's database is comprised of more than 65,000 entries in Wikipedia that are tagged according to their geography.
The best feature of PayPal's app allows you to snap a picture of a check with your iPhone to deposit money directly into your account. It also has technology that lets you send money to another person just by bumping your iPhones together, and includes an easy way to split bills at restaurants and calculate tips.
The app also lets you send money as a gift, pay someone back, and manage your PayPal account all when you're not able to access the full Web site.
--Written by Olivia Oran in New York.
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