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Apple’s Camera and Photos Apps Get a Makeover

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Apple has big plans for iOS 8 and how it will impact an iPhone or iPad user’s experience when taking, editing and sharing digital photos. In this article, Jason R. Rich takes a first look at some of the new features and functions being incorporated into the all-new iOS 8 editions of the Camera and Photos apps that will come preinstalled with the latest version of Apple’s iOS operating system.
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With each new iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch model that’s been released, the camera(s) built into Apple’s mobile devices have been improved, allowing for clearer, more vibrant, and more professional-quality digital images to be captured in a wide range of situations.

Currently, the front and rear-facing cameras built into the iPhone 5s, combined with the smartphone’s A7 chip, TrueTone flash, and other cutting-edge technologies, offer the most advanced picture taking capabilities compared to other iPhone and iPad models. However, in late 2014, Apple is expected to release new smartphone and tablet models that will most likely offer higher quality and more versatile cameras built in.

Beyond just the camera hardware, what allows iPhone and iPad users to capture, edit, and share photos are the Camera and Photos apps that come preinstalled with the iOS operating system. With the introduction of iOS 8 in Fall 2014, both of these apps are once again being enhanced with new features and functions that will dramatically improve what’s possible, regardless of which compatible iPhone or iPad you’re using to take, edit, and share digital images.

In conjunction with iOS 8 (for Apple’s mobile devices) and OS X Yosemite (for the Mac), Apple is also overhauling iCloud’s picture archiving and sharing functions. Thus, starting in 2015, both operating systems and iCloud will seamlessly integrate with what Apple is calling iCloud Photo Library. This new feature will replace iCloud’s My Photo Stream and Shared Photo Streams, and will automatically keep all images taken and/or stored within your Apple computers and/or mobile devices synced, easily searchable, and readily accessible.

Get Ready for the Camera App’s Enhancements

The Camera app that comes preinstalled with iOS 8 is the app used in conjunction with the iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch’s built in cameras in order to take digital images or shoot video. Each time Apple updates this app, it incorporates new features and functions that give iOS mobile device users more of the picture taking capabilities typically found in stand-alone, point-and-shoot digital cameras and full-featured Digital SLR cameras. The iOS 8 edition of the Camera app is no exception.

Sure, the Camera app will allow just about anyone to capture digital photos with their iOS mobile device in seconds, without paying any attention to lighting or any other digital photography-related issues or considerations. However, for those who want to achieve more visually impressive results when taking photos with their iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch, the iOS 8 edition of the Camera app will offer more advanced features, like built-in and third party image filters, a Timer, and a Time Lapse option.

Currently, both the Camera and Photos app offer a small selection of preinstalled image filters that can be selected, and that add one-touch special effects to an entire image. The iOS 8 edition of the Camera and Photos apps will now allow third party app developers to give users access to a broader range of more visually impressive image filters, without having to install and use another app.

Meanwhile, the Timer feature will allow a photographer to tap the Camera app’s shutter button, but delay the picture taking process by three or ten seconds. If a stand or tripod is being used with the iOS mobile device, this allows the photographer to set up the picture taking process, and then have time to reposition himself in front of the camera in order to be in the photo, for example.

The Time Lapse feature will allow the Camera app to automatically take a series of photos at pre-determined time intervals. A variety of iPad models will now offer the HDR (High Dynamic Range) shooting mode, which allows the Camera app to capture more vibrant photos, particularly in low-light situations, while the iPhone 5s and newer iPhone models will continue to better utilize this feature, thanks to the smartphone’s faster processor.

When HDR shooting mode is used (instead of the flash that’s built into the iPhone), multiple images are captured simultaneously when the Camera app’s shutter button is pressed. Each of these images utilizes the available light slightly differently, and within a fraction of a second, the images are merged together into one more vibrant and detailed image.

iPhone 5s users currently using iOS 7.1.2 will see the best results when using the HDR Auto shooting mode in a wide range of shooting situations. The iOS 8 version of the HDR Auto shooting mode, which will be available in a greater number of iOS mobile devices, once again makes it easier to capture clear and visually impressive images.

Other Camera app features, like Pano (for taking panoramic images), which were previously only available to iPhone users, will now be available to users of the Camera app on most iPad models.

Beyond what’s possible when actually taking pictures, once new images are stored within the iOS device’s Camera Roll album, for example, the iOS 8 edition of the Photos app will offer a more robust set of tools for editing, enhancing, archiving, and sharing those images.

The Photos App Will Also Offer Major Enhancements

The iOS 8 edition of the Photos app will continue to allow images to be stored within separate Albums, both within your iPhone, iPad, and/or iPod touch, as well as on the iCloud service. Initially, how the Photos app integrates with iCloud’s My Photo Stream and Shared Photo Stream features will remain the same, but big changes will be implemented by Apple in 2015.

With the introduction of iOS 8, however, Photos app users will be given a broader and more powerful set of tools for editing and enhancing images. For example, once an image is stored within an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch and it’s being viewed, a single tap of the Edit option will reveal a new, more extensive menu of tools.

The one-touch image Enhancement tool will continue to work as it currently does, giving users the ability to quickly and automatically adjust aspects of an image, like its contrast, saturation, and color, with a single tap. The Crop tool allows the image to be repositioned and re-framed, but the iOS 8 edition of the Photos app offers a more versatile image straightening tool as well.

Meanwhile, eight image filters are built into the Photos app, including Mono, Tonal, Noir, Fade, Chrome, Process, Transfer, and Instant. However, additional filters created by third parties can now be installed within the Photos app, and will become easily accessible when images are being edited. Each filter can be added to an entire image with a single tap, and dramatically alter the appearance of the image using a particular special effect. The Red Eye Correction feature found within the iOS 7 edition of the Photos app continues to work within the iOS 8 edition of the app.

New to the iOS 8 edition of the Photos app are the Smart Adjustments features. This is a series of adjustable sliders that allow someone to manually alter an image’s Light, Exposure, Highlights, Shadows, Brightness, Contrast, and Black Point separately, in order to offer a more customized look to each image. Once one of these Smart Adjustment features are selected, a slider is displayed, allowing the user to determine how much the adjustment should impact the photo.

Many of these Smart Adjustments offer sub-features. For example, if you select the Light Smart Adjustment option, there are separate tools for manually adjusting the Light and Color, as well as the Vibrancy and Cast within the selected image.

Using the Photos app, a user can now invest anywhere from a few seconds to several minutes on editing each image in order to achieve much more customizable and professional looking results when it comes to enhancing, fixing, or visually altering images before sharing them.

Once an image has been edited, from within the Photos app, the sharing features have also been enhanced. With a few on-screen taps, an image can be shared with others via AirDrop, email, text message, iCloud, Twitter, Facebook, or Flickr with greater ease. You’ll also discover that the AirDrop feature offered by iOS 8 is now fully compatible with the Mac version of this feature, allowing for images to be wirelessly transferred between iOS mobile devices or Macs that are within close proximity, even when an Internet connection is not available.

Third Party Apps Remain a Viable Option

What’s great about taking, editing, and sharing photos using an iPhone or iPad is that in addition to using Apple’s own Camera and Photos apps, literally hundreds of third party photography apps are readily available from the App Store that offer an even greater selection of powerful picture taking, editing, archiving, and sharing tools. Some of these apps are designed to work in conjunction with the Camera and/or Photos app, while others are designed to replace them altogether.

To discover powerful and popular image editing apps like Google’s SnapSeed and Adobe’s Photoshop (PS) Touch, Photoshop (PS) Express, and Photoshop Mix, as well as other apps, like Camera+, CameraPlus, Pro HDR, and Histamatic, access the App Store, tap on the Featured icon, tap on the Categories option, and then select the Photo & Video category.

Alternatively, to see a listing of bestselling photography-related apps from Apple and third parties, launch the App Store app, tap on the Top Charts option, tap on the Categories option, and then select the Photo & Video category. A listing of currently popular Paid, Free, and Top Grossing photography-related apps will be displayed.

In conjunction with the release of iOS 8, many of the preexisting third party photography-related apps are also being updated with new features and functions. Plus, as new iPhone and iPad models are being released, new third party apps are also being created that will take full advantage of the advanced photography features and functions that are being built into these new mobile devices.

In fact, you’ll discover apps that are ideal for general photo taking, plus separate apps that specialize in taking pictures in specialized situations, whether it’s in low light, or that somehow involve a lot of action, for example. There are also apps designed to help you more easily share your images online using third party cloud-based services, plus apps that make it a fast and simple process to order traditional prints from the images stored within your mobile device.

Final Thoughts...

What you’ll discover when you begin taking, editing, and sharing digital images using the iOS 8 editions of the Camera and Photos apps, as well as third party apps designed to work with iOS 8 and the latest iPhone and iPad models, is that the photography-related features and functions available to you are more powerful than ever before. Thus, you can leave your stand-alone digital point-and-shoot or Digital SLR camera at home, and rely on your iOS mobile device to be your primary camera in a wider range of shooting situations.

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