Apple's new Photos app for iOS 13 may just be the tool you've been waiting for

June 4, 2019 by Jefferson Graham, Usa Today
Credit: CC0 Public Domain

We take more and more photos every year on our new and improved smartphones, but finding them is probably the greatest pain point consumers face.

Tag them with a heart and save them to Favorites? Create albums? All work, but none have effectively solved the problem.

So Apple has a new idea. Organize photos by date, by year, month and date, instead of the "All Photos," approach, and make them look so pretty in their display, you'll have to take notice and actually use the feature.

Of all the announced Monday for iOS 13, the fall operating system update that brings new features to the iPhone, Watch, TV and iPad, the new Photos app arguably is the one people will use the most.

What do we do with phones? Take zillions of photos, share them on , and send texts, which more often than not, have attached photos.

I went one on one with the app Monday for a sneak peek and really liked what I saw, in my limited time testing.

The curated view of our favorite moments is different from Apple's current "For You" offerings, which organizes like-minded photos into computer-generated themes, usually relating to where they were shot, and slideshows set to canned music that sometimes group the photos incorrectly.

(For instance, a slideshow from iOS 12 said to have been about the California central coast cities of Ventura and Pismo Beach opens with a shot of San Francisco, some 244 miles away.)

In Apple's iOS 13 demo, all the photos looked to be in the right place. What I really liked was the display, which uses Apple's machine learning to cut out shots of receipts and repeat shots and feature what the computer thinks is the best of the best. And they are presented in a multiple shot display that mixes video with photos. So the visuals come alive with stills, movement, slow motion and time-lapse.

For editing, Apple is bringing Photoshop-like manual adjustments to really tweak photos. I'm a huge fan of the Adobe Photoshop Lightroom app for dramatically improving lighting and contrast in just a few clicks and always found Apple's filters limiting. There wasn't much there unless you dug in through advanced tabs, and even then, the Lightroom or Google Snapseed app always gave me much more.

The new app offers multiple sliders—"Auto," "Exposure" "Vibrance," and the like—and manual adjustments to bring the photo to your specs. If consumers take the time to play with filters on Instagram, which are even more limiting than Apple's iOS 12 assortment, I think they're going to love tweaking their images this way.

Additionally, Apple is bringing these tools to video editing as well, for the first time.

Finally, Live Photos is one of my favorite hidden iPhone secrets, but they're really hard to share. Apple looks to remedy that in iOS 13.

Live Photos gives you a snippet of video to go with your still, which doesn't reproduce well in social media. But now, you'll be able to save the Live Photos, and the two —Loop and Bounce (backward replay)—as video files. Additionally, those who really like the Live Photos effect can use it to snap dozens of photos in a row and extend the time allowed to create a video file.

Sure, it would be easier to just record a standard video, but what fun would that be? This is a different look, and I can't wait to start using it.

Overall, Lightroom and Snapseed will still be my go-to apps for mobile editing. And as good as Apple's photo management tools look, I'm extremely skeptical that the robot will get it right and only show what I want to see, correctly.

But I have 17,481 on my iPhone now, and I'm more than willing to give it the old college try. Because what I've got now surely isn't working.

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