Top Six Hopes for iOS 7 And/Or the Next iPhone

The WWDC is just days away and Apple will most likely be showing the new operating system for the iPhone and the Mac. A new iPhone is probably still a few months away, but I can still think of a number of things that might show up in iOS 7 for the photographers in the crowd.

1) Access to manual controls on the camera. Nothing would be better than this. Even if Apple doesn’t provide this advanced feature in their own camera app, I hope developers will be allowed to control the aperture, exposure time, ISO setting, and focus of the camera in their own apps. Even simple point and shoot cameras have had this for years. Developers can currently let you lock the focus and exposure, but no apps (at least that I’ve seen) let you just dial in the settings as you would do with a DSLR or point and shoot. Adding this feature would make the iPhone a truly amazing camera.

A mockup of an iPhone with manual controls.

2) Improved camera. The rumors seems to indicate the next iPhone will have a 12 MP camera, but megapixels is not always the most important thing. Quality of the sensor, lack of noise in low light conditions, aperture size, lens quality, etc., are all important. The 8 MP camera in the current iPhone 5 often looks vastly better than the 12 MP in my old point and shoot (which I haven’t used in years). It won’t happen this year, but just wait until this is the new sensor in your iPhone!

3) Viewing of the photos on the iPhone and in the Photo Stream. The camera roll does nothing but show a long sequence of photos. You can’t even tell if it was landscape or portrait mode. Square previews is all you get. I’m still not 100% sure how the photos ordered. Every now and then photos aren’t in the order they were taken, and I’ve never figured out anything consistent to the improper ordering. There is also no information (EXIF data) about the photo presented, nor is there a way to sort by date, location, etc. (You can view location on a map, but no sorting capabilities.) I’ve seen a number of 3rd party apps that do this, but you would think that Apple might take a shot at improvements. I’m often scared to try 3rd party apps, since some will import your entire camera roll – and with thousands of photos that can cause crashes and ‘wasted space’ on my iPhone.

4) Photo Stream improvements on iOS devices and the web. The total lack of visibility of the iCloud Photo Stream via the web and other apps really bothers me. You can see it on your iPhone on the Photo Stream selection, but just like the regular photo album, the sequence of these photos is different from other devices. Apple also provides no way to get the full resolution picture from your Photo Stream back to your iPhone. Currently there is a save image option, but why not a save full resolution image option as well? Everyone has a lot of opinions on what can be done with the Photo Stream, but all I know is with all the ideas floating around, Apple should use at least a few of them. Photo Stream (and the entire iCloud), feels a lot like iTools, .Mac, and Mobile Me – dabbling attempts at cloud integration. Always a bit flaky leaving users wanting more.

5) Better integration with Flickr (or other photo sharing sites). There are starting to be a number of nicely integrated photo sites on the iPhone, but they are somewhat limited. Tweeting or putting a photo on Facebook is easy, and there are a number of 3rd party apps that will do backups of your photos, but I’d like smoother integration. One example I’d love to see is a ‘album-centric’ approach. It could range from simple to a bit more complex. If I created a album on my iPhone called ‘Flickr’ and put photos in it, those photos would automatically be uploaded to Flickr. The same could be done with other services. This would take some work for both Apple and the 3rd party sites, but I’d really like it.

6) Easy access to the Photo Stream on Mac OSX. This could start out with Apple allowing you to start the iCloud Photo Stream without having to use iPhoto (or Aperture). Right now that seems to be the only easy way to do it. Once you have it started the stream there are a few third party tools that allow you to get the photos into other programs, or just other folders. I use the method described here to get my photos into Lightroom. Apple should allow developers of other apps easier access to this stream of photos.

That is all I can think of right now. I’d be willing to be others drift around in my head every now and then. I’m not sure if any of these will get shown at the WWDC, but maybe in the near future. Anyone else have any nice ideas?

There was a story on Cult Of Mac: What iOS 7 Could Do For Photographers. My mockup of an iPhone with manual controls was mostly just grabbed from the GUI of an Android app that lets you control your DSLR.

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