Apple announces iOS 8 at WWDC, brings plethora of enhancements for photographers

by Felix Esser

posted Monday, June 2, 2014 at 5:09 PM EDT

Apple kicked off its annual Worldwide Developers Conference with their keynote address, and as expected, the company announced the new versions of its mobile and desktop operating systems. For the photography crowd, both the new iOS 8 and the new OS X Yosemite will bring a couple of interesting and worthwhile improvements, including new Photos apps (for both iOS and OS X) as well as a new cloud storage option for those of us who need their photos in multiple places at the same time.

With the new iCloud Drive, Apple is offering a new cloud storage service that is directly aimed at Dropbox and Google Drive, providing 5 GB of free storage for every iCloud user, and extra gigabytes at moderate monthly fees. The more demanding user can get 20 GB of cloud storage for just $0.99 per month, while the power user can enjoy 200 GB of storage on-the-go for as little as $3.99 per month. Once enabled, your photos are automatically synced between all your iOS devices, and even edits can be picked up and changed on any device.

Thanks to iCloud Drive's new folder structure, managing your photos from within iOS will be a lot easier. Photos and videos can be viewed by Moments, Collections or Year, arranged in albums and much more. As an added benefit, iOS 8 lets you to store all your original files in the cloud while keeping only previews on your device, which leaves more free space on your iPhone or iPad. Of course the new iCloud Drive lets you share much more than only photo across your Apple devices – it's just that photos are the one thing we here at Imaging Resource are most interested in.

Speaking of which, Apple has also vastly improved the Photos app on iOS 8, bringing many new features that both amateur and advanced photographers will love, and which will render many a third party photo app obsolete. For those of us who simply cannot get a straight horizon if our lives depended on it, the new Photos app in iOS 8 has a cure. Not only can horizons be fine-tuned by hand after capture, but the app also offers to do it all by itself. In addition, images can be cropped either by hand or automatically for an "ideal" crop.

Brightness and color adjustments have also become a lot more intelligent. When using the 'Lightness' slider in iOS 8, the new algorithm will intelligently tune brightness, contrast, black point and more, so that the end result looks as pleasing as possible. While blown out highlights and washed out images may not exactly become a thing of the past, they should at least become much more rare. The same goes for the color editing tools, wich also take into account a number of different settings. And if you prefer to do all your edits manually, there's also an option for that.

If you have a love for filters, the new Photos app won't disappoint you either. Besides the built-in filters, iOS 8 now allows third-party developers to create their own filters and editing tools, which can be accessed right from within the Photos app. The same amount of functionality – including the non-destructive editing – will also be available for the OS X version of Photos, which is scheduled to appear some time in 2015.

And finally, iOS 8 will come with built-in time-lapse functionality, ridding you of the need to install a dedicated third-party app if creating time-lapse video is your thing. Seeing how popular this kind of video has become in the recent past, it makes a lot of sense that Apple would jump on the bandwagon and include its own solution in iOS 8. For the more demanding users, it remains to be seen how many fine-tuning options Apple's time-lapse feature has to offer.

iOS 8 is available now in a beta version for developers and will hit compatible devices this fall. The new OS X Yosemite, which has been given a major design overhaul that makes it look a lot more like iOS, will also be available this fall as a free upgrade. More information on the new iOS 8 and on Mac OS X Yosemite can be found over at