This time next week, Apple's World Wide Developer's Conference will be under way. Most of the major Apple announcements are expected to arrive during the keynote on June 10th at 10 a.m. Pacific Standard Time, but tech journalists have been surmising new technology for weeks.
According to Apple experts and industry insiders, it is safe to expect a new version of Apple's mobile operating system iOS. Most people expect the new, Jony Ive-designed iOS 7 to appear "flatter," but what will the overhaul mean for the user interface and photography tools?
Here at Connect, we spend a lot of time covering iPhone cameras and the people who use them. As we look forward to next week's announcements, we are hoping for a few things to make iPhone photography better. While some of them seem likely, we may have to wait a while for others.
In anticipation of WWDC, I have taken a bit of time to reflect on my personal phone of choice and its operating system to explain what I want from the upcoming Apple announcements.
1. Better manual capture tools in the native photo application
iOS 4 gave us HDR, iOS 5 came with instant camera access from the lock screen and iOS 6 introduced panorama mode. If a new version of Apple's iOS operating system is launched (which seems very likely), we can only hope that the camera application will see a new photography feature. We are not sure what it will be, but here's hoping that it includes some more elaborate manual capture settings.
As far as native photo applications go, the iPhone's user interface is the simplest of all smartphone offerings. Depending on your Android device, you can find everything from GIF creation to special scene modes inside the native photo application. Windows Phone 8 users can even add on "lenses" within the camera app. Meanwhile, iPhone photographers are left with a simple tap-to-focus interface that leaves many serious photographers rushing to the App Store for something better.
What I want: A little "Pro Mode" toggle right under the HDR and Grid options. When turned on, my hypothetical new user interface would allow for separate exposure and focal points as well as white balance and ISO control.
Will it happen? Maybe, but not likely. There is a reason why Apple doesn't have an excess of features in the camera native app. Not every iPhone user wants elaborate manual camera features, and those who do can easily download a third party application. Apple likes a clean user interface — and that sometimes means leaving the bells and whistles to software developers.
2. A iPhone 5S equivalent with improved camera hardware
Is it time yet for a new iPhone? Probably not, but if Apple follows the formula its set forth with the iPhone 4 and 4S launches, the next iPhone will likely be seeing a major camera hardware upgrade. The iPhone 4S took a 3-megapixel leap from its predecessor, raising hopes for an improvement in the next iPhone installment. The iPhone 5's launch last year saw a new sapphire lens and more processing power to handle low-light images.
What I want: A larger sensor. The Lumia series has its megapixel-packing 808 PureView camera, HTC's One uses "ultrapixels" and the latest 13MP Samsung Galaxy S4 focused heavily on software in its camera marketing. Apple can reach the cutting edge by offering a smartphone camera that has a larger sensor instead of just packing the megapixels into the same tiny camera unit.
3. Better photo organization
When it comes to organizing your images on an iOS device, you are on your own. Besides creating new folders for apps to dump photos in, iOS doesn't have any tools to automatically sort your photos on a mobile device. On OSX, iPhoto will organize photos based on facial recognition or added keywords. For $4.99 in the App Store, you can download iPhoto for iOS and use its flags to help organize your mobile images and there are plenty of third-party apps to help automatically organize and share photos. But shouldn't these tools come standard?
What I want: Ability to sort photos via automatic geolocation tags, time taken and user-added keywords.
Will it happen? Anything is possible with a new iOS update, and the Photos application is in major need of attention, so we will likely see some sort of update.
4. Improved app management
If there was a TV show about virtual hoarders, there would have to be a whole season on iPhone photographers. The plethora of great apps available in the iOS App Store means that some iPhone photographers are packing dozens of niche photography apps. Instead of allowing app lovers to shove all their software into one giant folder, Apple limits folder sizes based on device. The iPhone 4S can only hold 12 apps per folder while the iPhone 5 can handle up to 16.
What I want: Removal of folder limits! Please! (Also the creation of an App Hoarders Anonymous program so I can have a place to talk about my problem.)
Will it happen? I sure hope so. And these guys want it, too. (Maybe they can join AHA with me.)
5. Share and edit photos straight from the Camera Roll
Every iPhone photographer who uses the native camera application has had this problem. You take a photo and want to share it quickly. You tap on the tiny preview in the bottom left of the screen and end up on the Camera Roll preview screen (left image above). From here, you can delete your photo, but that's it. If you want to share it or edit it, you must first exit the Camera Roll and open up the image in the Photos app (right image above). Likewise, when you are in the Photos app and you suddenly want to take a photo, you have to exit in order to go back to the camera. The interface of the Camera Roll and Photos app are almost identical, just the tools and options available are different.
What I want: Full integration of the Camera Roll and Photos app — tap that tiny preview on the camera interface, you are now in the Photos app, when you open the Photos app, you can easily tap into the camera interface.
Will it happen? If Apple does any updates to Camera Roll, this super obvious navigation problem will hopefully be addressed.
Let's hear from you: Do you use an iPhone to take photos? If so, what do you want from WWDC?