1. Technology

XnRetro for Android

Retro-Vintage Photo Effects Android App

About.com Rating 4.5 Star Rating


XnRetro for Android Icon

XnRetro Android App

© XnRetro
XnRetro is an Android app from the developer Pierre Gougelet that is designed to give your photos a retro or vintage image style. The app is available to download for free from Google Play. In a sector of the app market place that contains a wide range of similar apps, the important question to ask is: is XnRetro worthy of being downloaded and installed on your Android devices? I'm going to try and help you answer that question by taking a closer look at the app and seeing what it's like to use.

User Interface

I think the first thing to note is that XnRetro is purely an app that you can use to apply filters to your photos. Some other retro image apps seek to replace the standard Android camera app, but this app is designed to work with photos that you have already captured. You can either select to open a saved photo or take a photo. If you choose the latter, you will be given the option to choose which of your installed camera apps to use.

Once you've taken your photo and clicked the OK button, your photo is opened in XnRetro and you have the option to crop it to a square shape or skip the step and maintain its rectangular shape.

This leads onto the main interface which is dominated by the photo window, with intuitive controls above and below this space. The top bar contains just two buttons which will be familiar to Android users for saving or sharing the photo.

Below the image window are the main controls and these are presented in a clear and simple way. At the very base of the screen are buttons that allow you to rotate your photo and access the editing options, that include basic adjustment tools, effects, vignette options and a selection of different frames for your photos.

Above the buttons is the area that the controls are displayed in, either as simple sliders or as a carousel that displays thumbnail previews that you select by touching. These controls overlay the image, but you can touch the photo anywhere to hide the controls so that you can preview the complete image.

Adjustment Tools

XnRetro for Android Screen Shot

XnRetro for Android Screen Shot

© Ian Pullen
Many users may quite happily use XnRetro using the one touch options, but the inclusion of basic image adjustment tools does open up the possibility for users to produce their own filters and effects or adjust the default effects. The three sliders offer control over the brightness, contrast and saturation of the photo and there's a reset button that makes it easy to undo any changes and return the image to the default settings. These tools are very easy to use and experiment with, but a 'nice to have' would be the option to save your settings so that you can apply them to future photos with a single click.


The button to the right of the adjustments tools opens a carousel that previews the different effects as applied to a thumbnail of the photo. There are 20 different effects in total with some imaginative names such as Retro 1, Retro 2 and Retro 20. Okay, they're not imaginatively named, but that's hardly a criticism and the 20 options available offer a good range of different effects.

It's very quick and easy to apply a filter to your photo and see how it looks at a larger size than the thumbnails. However, if you're more demanding, you can apply an effect and then use the adjustment tools mentioned previously to tweak the effect to your specific taste. The next button along opens the vignette slider that allows you to adjust the strength of the fake lens vignetting effect or remove it completely.

Again it would be nice to be able to save a combination of adjustments, vignetting and effect so that you could reuse it with future photos.


The selection of frames is presented in a similar carousel as the effects, though the frames are not applied to thumbnails of the image. However, it's a simple and quick process to work through the options and see how they look when applied to the photo. There's a reasonable mix of fake film, grungy and clean frames to keep most users happy.


Once you're happy with the result, you can save your photo or click the share button and XnRetro will present you with a list of all the apps installed that offer you sharing options. This makes life very easy, though some of the options presented may not always be appropriate, such as sharing via a QR code reader.


XnRetro is a relatively simple app that focuses on doing one thing only – adding creative retro effects to your photos. Its main strength is the fact that it dos this job very well. The user interface is very clear and intuitive to use with little that could cause confusion. It really does invite users to experiment with its options and those who enjoy pushing things further can use the adjustment tools to create their own effects.

There is little to fault with XnRetro and I really enjoyed using the app and the fun results. As I've mentioned, I'd like to see the option to save my own effects by combining filters, vignettes, adjustments and frames, but other than this, it's pretty well spot on.

For these reasons, I give XnRetro 4.5 out of 5 stars. If you enjoy applying retro or vintage effects to your photos, I would recommend that you give this free app a go.

You can download your own free copy of XnRetro from the Google Play Store.


XnSketch Android App
XnView Free Image Viewer
XnSketch Desktop App for Windows and Mac
XnRetro Desktop App for Windows and Mac
Android Mobile Graphics Apps
Share Your Favorite Graphics Apps for Android

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.