If The Best Camera is The One in Your Pocket, iOS 5’s is Effing Fantastic [WWDC 2011 Reaction]


image: Nico Kaiser/flickr

I don’t know how many times I’ve seen a famous photographer say something like “it’s not your equipment, it’s how you use it”; but they love to trot out that phrase like a dog breeder trotting out a prize poodle. And of course, they’re right. In fact, one of the most important — if not the most important — feature is that the camera is actually around for you to take the shot with — or you’ll miss the moment.  The second? That the damn thing doesn’t require much fumbling around with to operate.

The iPhone has never had any problem with the first one. And today, bam — Apple has just taken care of the second. In fact, the camera tweaks in iOS 5 should make the iPhone the most-used camera ever. Here’re the much-needed improvements, in order of grooviness.

1. Fast access to the camera: This is what it’s all about. Being able to almost instantly access the camera through the iPhone’s lockscreen means the difference between catching the shot of your coulrophobic buddy hauling ass away from that clown at your kid’s birthday party, or just a shot  of a confused clown.

2. Dedicated hard shutter button: Why one of the iPhone’s four physical buttons didn’t do double duty as a shutter button from day one is a wee bit baffling; having to tap the screen to take a shot is not only unsatisfying, it’s also ridiculously awkward (especially when taking self-portraits. Which we do considerably often here at the Cult of Mac, vain twits that we are). Wonder what these guys think of the this.

3. New shooting functions: I had a photo instructor who could practically smell if the image we brought into class was even just the tiniest bit skew. But iOS 5’s gridlines should make it easy for even a plastered, one-eyed goat to capture decently level images (and yes, gridlines have been around for ages on apps like Camera+). And then there’s the way-overdue new focus/exposure lock. Having to tap on the screen to set exposure only to have it frustratingly adjust again after recomposing the shot will now be a thing of the hazy past; frankly, I’m baffled that Apple hasn’t added a dedicated slider to manually adjust exposure, but the exposure lock is a big step in the right direction.

4. New editing features: the limited photo-editing functions additions in iOS 5 aren’t going to replace hardcore editing apps like Photoshop Express and PhotoForge2. But the ability to crop, nix the dreaded red-eye and quick-adjust images will make having to bring out the big guns less frequent, and make sharing photos a quicker and easier affair.

And that doesn’t even delve into the new photo sharing possibilities through iCloud and Twitter — which makes these huge improvements all the more significant, right?


  • Reed

    Dude, you haven’t even tried it yet, how do you know that it won’t suck? Come on, on paper even Windows 7 Phone was great! And Windows 8 rocks! And, wow, next version of Ubuntu will eat Lion for breakfast!

  • Gary M

    how do you know he hasn’t tried it? he may have the Developer Beta already

  • dcj001

    Developers are using iOS 5 right now. Why don’t you think Eli has been using it, Dude?

  • Adam

    I’m using it. It doesnt suck.  And even on paper, Windows 8 sucks… 

  • baby_Twitty

    @Reed Lion will eat you and your windows for deserts.

  • erfon

    Been waiting for exposure lock fer-ever! Going to make creating panoramas a lot easier too.

  • Alistair H.

    All of these four listed features were present in both Android and Windows Phone 7 since launch…but i guess if Apple does something, it instantly becomes ‘new and revolutionary’ eh ? 

  • Guest

    I wonder if they will let you half-press the volume buttons to auto-focus?

  • Susan Davies

    Apple wants to give its users an all in one product and they are working on improving every aspects lets see how they keep modifying their products

  • ChildWillRead

    Has anything changed about the iPh*ne video capability in #iOS5? Really want to know. :) #mac #apple 

  • Isaac65

    I don’t recall reading here or hearing in the keynotes the words “new” and “revolutionary” regarding the new camera features. Sounds to me like you’re jealous they’re now implemented elegantly on iPhones and work so well.

  • Alistair H.

    Oh yeah, I’m sooo jealous of a feature i’ve been using for years now :) Now seriously, i love Apple but seeing how some of you here are blinded by it is silly… iPhone lacked and still lacks some of the most basic features, and you’re ok with that – but when Apple finally decides to bring that missing functionality you’re all “wow, this is sooo great, i love you steve, you’ve made my life so much better” while you should be more like “the hell, about time….”.

    Look around at what other companies offer – you’ll be shocked that there’s so many new technology around to see, and in most cases – all those “new and great” features Apple introduce were available on other devices long ago.

  • Watchman

    this feature are available for a long time for all jailbroken phones.. it is non-event.. non-issue… it is obvious Apple fucked up by not having this feature from the start and only introduced much later when they realised just how much people wanted it and how they fucked up something that is so basic… but well this is the cult of mac and all cultists don;t think for themselves.. they just worshipped the cult master..