updated 04:00 pm EDT, Mon June 2, 2014
Will consolidate management, editing and cloud storage in cross-platform app
At today's WWDC keynote, Apple announced a significant consolidation of its Photos management app for iOS, and talked briefly about how it will eventually replace iPhoto with a new Photos app for Mac sometime next year. Photos, which is now primarily a management app with very limited editing capability, appears to be taking on iPhoto's features in an overhauled UI format on both platforms.
Apple has streamlined the whole photo-iCloud relationship by simply combining them into iCloud Photo Library, which puts every photo and video a user takes into iCloud at full resolution (users can turn this feature on or off as desired), including images shot in RAW format. Accordingly, Apple has lowered the cost of iCloud expanded storage plans, since only 5GB is provided for free. The company now offers 20GB of storage for $1 a month, with 200GB available for $4 per month (and storage up to 1TB available at tiered pricing).
The move will allow iPhones and iPads -- which have limited capacity -- to effectively store and have access to much larger photo and video libraries. The two categories of files are often the largest portion of used space on mobile devices, but the new system in iOS 8 will offer to store the full-resolution files in the cloud while keeping "lightweight" viewable versions on the local device for offline viewing.
Photos offers organization based on time, as timestamps (and often geolocation stamps) are usually embedded into pictures taken with the iPhone or iPad camera. While users can still create custom albums and custom viewing orders, by default images are sorted by Moments (a group of photos taken at around the same time), Collections (photos gathered by large time scales or location) and Years. Because the photos are stored in iCloud, edits made on one device are automatically seen on other devices. What's more, the edits are non-destructive, meaning reversion to the original image is always possible.
Photos in iOS 8 will offer smart suggestions for helping to find photos across large collections, such as photos taken at the same time last year or near the same location. Users can of course still search by date or time, location, album or pre-selected favorites as before.
The iOS Photos app will offer auto-straightening and suggesting cropping, likely based on face detection. Simple, touch-centric ways to bring out detail in shadows or highlights as well as boosting color (particularly focused on areas like making skies bluer or correcting only flesh tones) are available, along with a fine-tune advanced menu for those who want to maker more precise adjustments. The app also has a selection of built-in features, and now provides an API so that third-party apps can employ effects directly within Photos, eliminating the "round-trip" process.
The Camera app is also being enhanced in iOS 8, offering a time-lapse video mode that goes beyond the slow-motion effect seen on the iPhone 5s under iOS 7. The users simply sets the device (a tripod is likely recommended for best results) as they would to shoot pictures, then sets the mode to Time-lapse, sets an interval, and hits record.