iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite will change the way you do photography


Apple finally fixed photography on iOS. Or rather, it’s fixed organizing your photos, wherever they might be. The iPhone is already a great camera. The problem was everything that happened after you tapped the shutter.

Now, in iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite, you’ll never have to worry about organizing your photos again — they’ll be everywhere, all the time. And best of all? It looks like you’re never going to need iPhoto again, on the Mac or on your iPad.


While changing the way Apple lets you organize your photos sounds like the dullest part of the photography-related updates to iOS and OS X, it’s the best bit. Previously, when you took a picture on your iPhone it would live right there on the iPhone, and possibly in your iCloud Photo Stream until you took 1,0000 more photos and it got knocked off the end. If you used iPhoto or Aperture on the Mac, full-res copies of the originals would be saved there, and low-res pictures would be sent to any other iDevice you owned.

This was a pain. First, you’d need iPhoto just to keep your pictures safe. Second, while iPhoto on the Mac is a great place to make albums and the like, these changes wouldn’t be reflected on your iDevices.

And third, if you edited a photo, you’d have to save the result back to your camera roll, making yet another copy.

iCloud Photo Library
New storage tiers will even cover pros.

iCloud Photo Library fixes all this. It’s a single library for all your photos, and you can view it on your iPhone, iPad and on your Mac (the new OS X Photos app will ship next year). Full-res versions are kept in iCloud (including RAW files), and any edits are immediately mirrored to other devices.

Also, any albums you make will also be mirrored to your other devices, so you can organize on the Mac and see the albums on the iPhone (or on the web – this might not sound like much but it means your non-Apple-owning friends can be brought into the loop).


iCloud Photo Library looks almost the same as the photo app you have now, with the addition of a little magnifying glass icon up in the corner. This lets you search your photos on location, time taken or album name. It also offers smart suggestions — “Nearby” and “One Year Ago” — and supports search terms like “2008,” “December,” “Spain” and so on.

Search on places to quickly find your photos.

The results are organized into sections based on the type of search. For instance, if you search on “December,” the results are split into daily events. Search on a country (Israel in my example), and the results are broken down by town. And within the search you can always tap on a place name to see the pictures on a map, just like in iOS 7.

Good for all your pictures

The fact that iCloud Photo Library supports RAW files is neat, but what that means is even neater: Pictures you take with a regular camera will become a part of your library, and synced between devices. And because third-party apps will be able to write to your photo albums, you really might want to keep all your photos on your iPad.

It’s worth mentioning the new iCloud prices here, newly lowered to fit the increased storage you’ll need. The free tier is still 5GB, 20GB will be a buck a month, and 200GB will be just $4 per month, which is insane. That’s more than enough for all my photos, ever.

Death of iPhoto

I’m running the first version of iOS 8 beta on my iPad mini, so anything here is subject to change, but once you switch on iCloud Photo Library, the first time you launch the Photos app it imports everything from your iPhoto Library, and if you try to launch iPhoto you can’t. You get this message instead:

Smell ya later iPhoto!

Which looks like the end for iPhoto. No matter, though, because the editing tools in the Photos app are now much more powerful, and – this is the really cool part – other apps can inject their own filters right into the photos app.

Capture and Editing

Built-in versus third-party filters.

In yesterday’s demo at WWDC, Cray-Fed (Craig Federighi) showed how the fantastic Waterlogue app could make its filters available right inside the Photos app. This is clearly huge. It’s not only convenient, but it also means that your photos album won’t be littered with different versions of the same picture. As far as I can tell, these filters are nondestructive (just like the built-in ones, they don’t touch the original file) and the edits are stored in your main library.

And of course, these edits propagate to all your other devices.

It’s not too much of a stretch to imagine that apps could also edit photos’ metadata, letting you geotag pictures taken with a camera and imported with the camera connection kit right there on your iPad.

New editing tools – just like Snapseed

Swipe to change tools, swipe in the other direction to apply them.
The color and light sliders work magic on your photos.

Federighi also demoed new photo-editing features in his keynote address. The big changes are the crop and straighten tool (which adds an auto-straighten when you first engage it), and the Color and Light tools. Color and Light work by swiping up and down the image to auto-adjust the color and the lighting semi-automatically.

iOS analyzes the image and decides how to process it, and your swipes tell it how much to tweak the image. The app is tweaking exposure, brightness, contrast, saturation and other parameters behind the scenes. But that’s not all. If you swipe left and right, you can access these individual controls, then swipe up and down to change them. It’s just like using Google’s Snapseed app, only non-destructive and built-in.

Camera App

Time-lapse mode. Just check out the truncated labels on the right.

The camera app also has some changes. There’s now a self-timer built in (at last), and a time-lapse function. The time-lapse is pretty neat. It’s located next to the other options for Photo, Square and Video, and one tap starts the camera snapping a frame at short intervals. When you hit the stop button, the result is saved as a MOV file in your camera roll. You can use the front or back cameras, but the iPhone/iPad needs to stay running while it is capturing.

The self-timer is activated up by the HDR switch, and offers three- or 10-second countdowns.


Sharing now has a “more” section, where you can customize your options.

Sharing is also better in iOS 8. First, you can now customize the export options in the built-in sharing sheet. This lets you turn off Facebook sharing so you never have to see it again, but the interface for doing this also shows how third-party apps will be able to integrate right into the sharing sheet. Federighi showed the Pinterest integration, and you can bet everyone from Evernote to Drafts app will have plugins for this feature.

Bye-bye Facebook. And good riddance.
Family sharing
It’s a family affair

Family Sharing is – like the new sharing features above – a system-wide feature, but it’s great for photos. You can opt in your family members and then enjoy a shared photo stream with everybody’s images all in one place. You already can do this in iOS 7 by setting up a Shared Photo Stream, but still. Who doesn’t like seeing family pics?

Sharing sheet in Messages

Finally, sharing photos in Messages is now easier. If you’re in the Messages app and hit the camera button to add pictures, you get this new option.

Quick-insert your most recent photos.

Along the top of the photo picker is a “contact strip” showing thumbs of your most recent pictures. Just scroll through and tap to select one. It’s very handy.


The first beta is pretty clunky, but the basics are here and they look good. I love iCloud Photo Library, and I think the integration of third-party filters right into the Photos app will be awesome. And I can’t wait to pay for the 200GB iCloud storage option and just let iCloud take care of all my pictures for me. No more finagling Flickr or dickering with Dropbox to get a full online library – it’ll all be there on my iPad, iPhone and Mac.

Combine this with the powerful editing features now inside the Photos app, and maybe Apple has solved digital photo storage once and for all.

  • Pierre Roy

    great! i can’t wait for IOS 8 and OSX Yosemite, i just sent Tim Cook an email!

  • Long Duckdong

    Unfortunately, we’re not hearing anything about Aperture. I switched from Lightroom several years ago, but while LR receives update after update, Apple says nothing about Aperture.

    As a semi-pro, this is troubling. I’m concerned all the time I’ve invested into the Aperture workflow may be for naught….

    • A SNES Day Off

      I wouldn’t worry – during the final Keynote last year (October?), Schiller had a section on the new Mac Pro and, along with FCX and Logic, Aperture was highlighted as a pro app that was tested by a photographer.

      Also if ‘Photos’, a ground up new app, is coming to to the Mac next year, the chances are that Apple are doing the same to Aperture and will release them in near tandem, so that they share the iCloud Drive/syncing features.

      • gabecnc

        will it be necessary to buy the extra space of icloud? or will there still be possibility to save automatically copy of the photos from the cloud to the mac?

    • Littlefoot Longstroke

      No way this will be an Aperture replacement. The new editing features are nice, but they are quick edits. Tasks like histogram analysis, metadata and keyword editing, lens corrections, etc.will still require more powerful post-processing apps like Aperture and LR.

  • Everything looks great, but I would’ve really been excited if they had increased the free cloud storage to 20gb. Is that measly $12/year really that valuable to Apple?

    • jonathanober

      multiply that by half or a million people…then yes…it brings in yearly revenue that pays to keep the storage farm running.

  • Patrick Kurmann

    Thank you Charlie for this excellent article.

    One question nobody seems to answer: Apple says that Albums (which are now shared between all Devices) will be accessible via web browser.

    Did you see this feature already? Is it sth like Shared Photo Stream web page?

    Greetings from Switzerland.


  • Såpemannen

    I just wonder how that will work with my 60.000 pictures in the iphoto library (128 GB).

  • David Ranson

    Good article….my wife and I currently have a shared iPhoto library, I am guessing this would no longer be possible with icloud photo library

    • GoCat

      It’ll be better, actually. You’ll have separate libraries, yes … but the “Family Sharing” feature will give each of you as much access to each other’s photos as you like. Looks like it’s going to be pretty seamless.

  • Kenton

    These updates look awesome. Really looking forward to the new design scheme and features in OSX. I love the idea of being able to make and receive (or decline :P) calls from my laptop and just being able to come home and leave my phone on the charger.

  • gabecnc

    I am very curious to know what happens if i dont want to buy more than the free 5 GB space. will it work as it does now with the 1000photos/month and overwrite the old ones? And what happens on my imac? will it keep copy of each photo even if i don’t have bough the extra space of the icloud?

  • Cheikh Ra

    Will the new photo app on the desktop still allow you to make photo albums, buy prints, etc??

  • Dide

    What about Aperture?

  • jdizzl

    Since when do pros use iphoto? Pros use Lightroom/Photoshop, prosumers use Aperture.

    • Amenhotep03 .

      There’s a level between pros and holiday-picture-takers. I am one of them, and I have always found iPhoto to be the perfect tool for me. Photoshop is, beside being overpriced, too sluggish and heavy offering much more than I would need; and similar for Aperture, it has functionalities which are not useful to me.

      • Marcus2012

        Yeah, it’s called prosumer…

  •  benjieiOS 

    I can not find any folder view iCloud photo library on my mac with yosemite

  • Brad Savall

    As a former .mac user who lost a significant amount of my digital presence when Apple pulled the plug on .mac, I do not have great faith in storing my photos somewhere that I do not have control. Will there be an option to not use the cloud? I agree that many will like the features, but to me they are not worth the risk.

    • Amenhotep03 .

      I wonder about the added value as well. While it is usefull to have a good synching of photos I take with my mobile devices to my iMac, I fail to see why each and every photo that I make should be available all of the time on all of these devices. Especially when this will cost me extra.

  • Amenhotep03 .

    My current iPhoto database is already about 50 Gb in size, so switching to iOS 8 and Yosemite would mean I’d have to pay just to have my thousands of photos available on every device? I really don’t see how one can look forward to that, even if it is “only” 4 USD / month (on top of a computer and mobile devices that are already quite expensive). And perhaps I don’t need all of my photos to be available on every device all of the time. I need the photos that I take with my iPhone and iPad to easily synch in iPhoto and for those photos that I would share among my iMac and my mobile devices, I would appreciate to have them organised in the same way.
    Also, I love … no, scrap that … I adore iPhoto on iMac. It allows me to work on my photos the way I want that. So why would I want that changed? Do I really want to edit my photos (remove specs, brighten shadows, change temperature or saturation) on a screen as small as that of an iPhone 5? Or even that of an iPad? When I have a 24 inch iMac that gives me a much better view?
    The announced death of iPhoto would, for me, be an important reason not to migrate to Yosemite and iOS 8, despite some other functionalities that are indeed an upgrade.

  • panjandrum

    Will these features work with videos as well? (I’m hopeful, but would love to see confirmation given iOS’s separate treatment of videos in the past.)

    • I have read all articles I can find but nowhere have I seen the new photo sharing system will work with videos. Anyone who uses iPhoto to manage their family photos like I do will have many videos stored in line side by side with the photos of a particular event. Losing this would destroy the most powerful photo/video system of any computer that I have ever seen. (I use Aperture via my iPhoto library as a professional photographer for this same reason)

  • HopefulHumanist

    Only if you want your library in the cloud. If you just want a local library like you’re used to, you don’t have to pay a cent.