Apple (s aapl) has been steadily improving the iPhone’s photo taking abilities with each new iPhone it offers. This is true of the hardware components on the device that make up the camera as well as the software that makes use of the camera. While the new iPhone 5S certainly has some impressive new capabilities due to improvements in hardware, iOS 7 has also been enhanced and makes taking, editing and sharing photos a better overall experience for all supported devices.
iOS 7 Camera App
More accessible than ever before, Apple’s Camera app in iOS 7 has a few new features to get excited about. You can access the Camera app from the app’s icon on the home screen as well as by swiping up on the camera icon from the lock screen. It is also accessible from just about anywhere by tapping on the camera button in the new Command Center. You can even still use the volume controls to snap photos.
A new square photo mode has been added to the existing video, photo and pano modes. If you happen to have an iPhone 5s, you will also see the new Slo-Mo mode that lets you film at 120 frames per second. When set to either the square or photo mode, there is now a button that resembles three overlapping color filters. Tap it and you will see nine frames arranged in a three-by-three grid. With the iPhone 5, 5C and 5S, you will see in real time how the different filters will be applied. They are Noir, Chrome, Instant, Tonal, Transfer, Mono, Fade Process and of course None.
Tap and hold the shutter button and the iPhone 5s will take up to ten pictures a second in burst mode. Low light photos will look better on the iPhone 5s as well with its enhanced image stabilization and a new technology that will merge the least blurry parts of four photos into one. The same is true for panoramas, as they will now shoot at 30 frames per second and adjust the exposure while you pan across the scene you are shooting with your iPhone 5s.
iOS 7 Photos App
The Photos app is still the fastest way to access the photos you have on your iPhone. Of course the photos you take with the built-in Camera app will appear in your Camera Roll, but with iOS 7, third-party apps can now save photos to a specially named album like an Instragram or a Diptic. This only works if the third-party app takes advantage of this new feature. Other new photo organizing features include a drill down from years to collections and finally moments. Collections can be from a certain location over a range of dates, whereas moments are photos taken at specific locations on a specific date. These new organizations also include photos from your shared photo streams, but not from others’ shared photo streams.
iCloud’s Shared Photo Streams, accessible from within the Photos app, have also been updated with the release of iOS 7. You can now share videos on your Photo Stream as you do Photos. Additionally other iCloud members that you have invited to your Shared Photo Stream can now post their own photos and videos to your Photo Stream. This makes it very easy to set up a single shared event Photo Stream that everyone can post too. The other big change to Photo Streams is that you can now open up your Photo Stream on iCloud.com to anyone, even friends and family that do not have an iCloud account. Once your public iCloud Photo Stream is live, you can even share a link to the site with your Twitter and Facebook friends from within the Photos app.
In addition to iMessage, Mail, iCloud, Twitter, Facebook and Flickr photo sharing options, iOS 7 has added AirDrop support to the Photos app. AirDrop is a way to quickly share files between devices. Not all devices that are capable of running iOS 7 support AirDrop; only the iPhone 5, iPad 4, iPad mini and the 5th generation iPod Touch. To get AirDrop to work, both devices must have both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth turned on. Additionally you need to establish exactly who you can share with: no one, everyone, or only individuals you have in your contacts. Unfortunately the iOS implementation of AirDrop is not presently compatible with the OS X implementation of AirDrop, something that will hopefully change in the future.
With the Photos app you can also make some simple and quick edits to your photos. Cropping, rotating, removing red-eye and auto enhancing are still there, plus the new ability to apply the same collection of filters available to the Camera app: Noir, Chrome, Instant, Tonal, Transfer, Mono, Fade and Process. For videos the only option you have to edit your videos is to trim them. For advanced photo and video editing capabilities, you will need to turn to Apple’s iPhoto and iMovie editing apps.
iPhoto for iOS
When Apple announced the availability of iOS 7 and the two new iPhones, the 5c and 5c, Apple also announced that all new iOS device purchases will include a copy of iPhoto and iMovie. From this point forward, these apps will forever be part of the standard apps that come with your iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch experience. Just like they do on OS X with every Mac you purchase.
The editing capabilities of iPhoto are much more advanced than those included in the Photos app. Beyond the auto enhance feature of the Photos app, iPhoto gives you control over the photo’s contrast, brightness, and color saturation. There are even controls to enhance the green in scenery, the blue in skies, and hues in skin tones. Taking enhancements one step farther still are Brushes. For example, with Brushes you can selectively saturate or desaturate, lighten or darken, and sharpen or soften each photo by painting a selected area within the photo. You can even straighten images by as little as one degree rather then rotating the photo a full 90 degrees.
If your particular iOS device does not support the new AirDrop feature of iOS 7, there is a feature in iPhoto that you can use instead. iPhoto has implemented Beam as a means of sharing photos between iOS devices. From within iPhoto you select the photo or photos you want to share with another iOS device and tap on Beam instead of Facebook or Twitter. Provided iPhoto is installed and running on the other iOS device, the photo will then be sent. This is a great way to take better photos with the camera on your iPhone, then edit them with the larger screen on your iPad.
In contrast to iCloud’s Shared Photo Streams, where you post individual photos online in one continuous stream, iPhoto has a Journal feature where you can personalize a collection of photos into a story. Journals in iPhoto allow you to arrange your collection of photos in a series of pages, each page having its own title and heading. You can also add non-photo elements to your Journal like notes, comments, weather, calendars and maps. When you are finished, you can then publish your Journal to iCloud and share the link with your family and friends.
iMovie for iOS
Now that iCloud supports sharing of movie files in your Shared Photo Stream, you can share each individual movie you take instantly with just about anyone. There are however times when you will want to do more than just trim individual movies in the Photos app. And that is where Apple’s iMovie for iOS comes into play.
iMovie will allow you to piece together several different videos you have taken with the Camera app. You can add title sequences, photos and music to your movies as well. It even has the ability to implement transitions between different clips and photos. Once you have finished edition your movie, you can share it online for everyone to see.
With the release of the iPhone 5S’s new camera, iOS 7’s enhanced photo apps, and the inclusion of both iPhoto and iMovie with every iOS device purchase. Apple has raised the standard for both mobile photography as well as cinematography. Now anyone can accomplish a whole lot more from the first moment they take their new iPhone out of the box.