iOS 8 What Will it Mean for Photos?

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Jun 4, 2014

On June 2nd, Apple announced that iOS 8 will become available later this year to download for iPhones, iPads, and iPods. This new version of iOS promises to be a major upgrade on the current iteration, iOS 7.

Below is a summary of the photo related announcements that Apple made on Monday. I am excited about the changes that Apple is making, not just because I am the owner of Apple products myself, but because I can see the benefits for consumers in general.

InfoTrends has, for a number of years, talked about the need for the photography industry to address issues relating to storage and retrieval. These are issues that have been growing in importance as consumers’ collections of images have expanded exponentially. Smartphone players like Apple are well positioned to solve these problems. Smartphones are powerful mini computers where the imaging workflow is constantly being improved. This means that for consumers who use their smartphones for photo activities it is all the time getting easier to take, share, store and retrieve photos.

The important imaging announcements that Apple made were:

  • iCloud Photo Library for long term storage accessible across all Apple devices including Mac computerss
  • Improved iCloud search functions
  • Improved photo editing tools
  • More open camera API, making more camera controls available to developers and users

iCloud Photo Library

Apple’s vision is that iCloud will be the location where all photos generated by iPhones and iPads will reside. The process of moving photos and videos from the photo folder on the iPhone/ iPad and to the iCloud Photo Library will be automated. Free storage will remain at 5GB while Apple has slashed its pricing for additional space. 20GB will be $0.99 per month (down from $1.66), and 200GB will be for $3.99 per month. This is significantly lower than the current price of $100 for 50GB, and matches Google Drive on a per-gigabyte basis. However, Apple’s free offering falls a long way short of Samsung’s 50GB for free with Dropbox for two years.

Improved search functions in iCloud

InfoTrends believes that the improved search function is a particularly important feature. In iOS 8, it will be possible to search for photos by location, date, time and album name. Apple is making the search process easier by adding suggestions such as photos taken on the same day a year ago or in nearby locations. The more intelligence that can be built into the search and retrieval process, the better the user experience will be. The next step in image searching will be for the device to anticipate which photos you are searching for based on automatically gathered sensor data as well as image content analysis.

Improved editing tools

In the iOS 8 Photos app, it will be possible to automatically straighten and crop photos. Using sliders, it will be possible to easily make adjustments to colour, contrast, exposure and brightness.

Open Camera API and more camera controls

Apple also announced that the camera API will become available to developers. This means that camera apps will integrate smoothly with the camera and it will also become easier to develop camera apps for iOS. Consumer will get more choice of quality camera apps which should yield better quality images. A number of other features will also become available including more control over focusing and exposure, instant burst mode, panoramic photos on iPad, and camera timer.

InfoTrends’ Opinion

As the smartphone market slows, the pressure will be on all players to innovate in order to encourage replacement or first time purchases. Impressive marketing and sleek user interface have distinguished Apple from its competitors and remain important competitive advantages. However, as consumers become savvier when shopping for smartphones, Apple will have to match its competitors on specifications and on cost. Camera features and functions as well as services related to photos will be high up on consumers list of considerations when purchasing a smartphone. By creating a great photo user experience Apple is paving the way for future repeat purchases.


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