Apple’s iOS 8 Cracks Open iPhone Camera Controls Like Never Before
In the world of technology, Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) has an enviable reputation as a maker of high-quality, well-designed consumer electronics and user-friendly software. The Cupertino, California-based company also has a less celebrated reputation as a control freak when it comes to its products and services.
After all, this is a company that must approve every iOS app before it is allowed into its App Store, won’t allow users to expand the iPhone’s memory (short of buying a new device), and ensures that there is only one official version of each iteration of its mobile operating system. On the other hand, Apple’s obsession with controlling every aspect of its software and hardware has allowed the company to create a seamless experience between the various products found in its ecosystem and has garnered the company one of the most loyal followings in the tech world.
However, some of the new iOS 8 software features revealed at the recent Worldwide Developers Conference suggested that Apple is beginning to loosen its control by opening up its software and providing users with more customization options. Apple unveiled its so-called Extensibility features that for the first time will allow apps to project user interface features and services into other apps — albeit within the secure confines of “sandboxed” app limitations.
As recently reported by AnandTech, one of the new areas where Apple will be surrendering the driver’s seat to users in iOS 8 is the camera controls. Despite only being given a cursory mention in the WWDC keynote, the camera control options in iOS 8 epitomize the new and unprecedented level of customization that will soon be available to Apple users.
Up until iOS 8, the camera control options for iPhone users were pretty limited. Users could choose to activate High Dynamic Range (HDR) imaging or turn the Auto Exposure (AE)/Auto Focus (AF) lock on or off. Otherwise, the process of snapping pictures on an iPhone was completely automated. To be fair, the automatic settings for the iPhone’s camera are fairly effective and are one reason why Apple products have a reputation for offering an intuitive user experience. On the other hand, for shutterbugs that like to tweak the various camera settings, Apple’s camera interface was woefully basic.
IOS 8 will open up the iPhone’s camera controls like never before. As noted by AnandTech, “ISO [International Standards Organization], shutter speed, focus, white balance, and exposure bias can be manually set within a custom camera application” in iOS 8. These newly accessible camera controls will allow Apple users to manipulate photos like never before. A camera’s ISO setting refers to the sensitivity of a camera’s image sensor. A higher ISO allows users to take pictures in low-light settings but results in more image distortion, or “noise.” A lower ISO requires more light but also produces less image distortion. Shutter speed determines the amount of time that a sensor is exposed to the light. Faster shutter speeds are generally used for sports photography or other situations where there is a lot of movement; slower shutter speeds are typically used to create a blurring effect.
Basically, Apple users will have more freedom to create photographs outside of the iPhone’s prescribed range of automation, for better or for worse. Amateur iPhone photographers will also be able to get help from various camera apps. As noted by AnandTech, not only will Apple offer some these manual controls in its native camera app, developers will also be able to access these camera settings through third-party apps. Besides giving users the ability to tweak the iPhone’s camera settings to their individual liking, the newly available camera controls may also have the benefit of attracting more tech-savvy buyers to Apple’s ecosystem. It should be noted that many of the customization options introduced in Apple’s iOS 8 have long been available on the Android and Windows Phone platforms. According to Apple, iOS 8 will become publicly available sometime this fall.
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