If the update to the iPhone’s built-in Camera app as part of last year’s iOS 10 overhaul focused on enhancing photographic creativity, iOS 11 expands the camera app’s mission to achieve more intelligent and versatile photos than ever before.
iOS 11’s take on the Camera app aims to give you the ability to shoot and store more and better photos on your iPhone without running out of space by adopting a new shooting format for photos and videos.
You can immediately plunge into the Camera app directly from iOS 11’s Control Center to zero in on the shot you want to take: with a 3D Touch-capable iPhone, you can hard press on the Camera icon and you can choose among a selfie, video recording, slow-motion video or a standard photo. Upgrades to the camera’s filters and tons of tiny tweaks make the Camera app exceptionally interesting and highly functional, compared to earlier versions of iOS.
Major photo and video functionality has been added in the form of screenshot handling, native QR code scanning, screen recording, the ability to align a shot, and other intriguing details that save you time and effort.
Though the final version of iOS 11 won’t come out until the fall, a public beta of iOS 11 lets you try out all the new features and enhancements. Here’s a deeper look at what you’ll find when you launch the Camera app in Apple’s updated OS.
Live Photos new options
Live Photos, a hybrid of still and video that Apple first introduced in 2015, shoots 1.5 seconds of video before and after a single shot, complete with accompanying sound, without you having to shoot in movie mode. But aside from viewing, not much else besides some basic editing could be done with them — until now.
With iOS 11, you can extract a still from any frame to use as the key frame, ensuring that it will always be your favorite view within the photo. More than ever, Live Photos in iOS 11 can be treated like the videos they actually are. New editing options, derived from computer vision technology, include the GIF-like Loop, a forward and backward Bounce, and a special effect blurred Long Exposure.
Filters are those Hipstomatic-derived, Instagram-popularized viewers that let you dress up any mundane photo you please to hopefully make it more interesting to look at, and perhaps even improve image quality. Like ‘em or hate ‘em, iOS 11 gives you a brand new crop of photo filters, adding that special aura to your pictures while leaving skin tones intact.
iOS 11’s new filters are more subtle, aesthetically pleasing, and natural looking than the previous batch. Plus, they can be applied directly in the window as you take your shot — in addition to option to apply the same filters while editing.
This totally revamped filter collection is more logical, professional, and useful. It is essentially three basic filters with variations. Vivid has warm and cool variations, as does Dramatic. Three monochrome entries — Mono, Silvertone, and Noir — serve to heighten the monochromatic drama.
Portrait Mode respect for iPhone 7 Plus
Pro photographers flocked to the iPhone 7 Plus because of its advanced shooting proficiency and unique Portrait mode. Now, iOS 11 adds critical new capabilities, which do not require additional photographic expertise.
Portrait Mode in the iPhone 7 Plus uses the camera’s two lenses to record depth data and a DSLR-like wide aperture effect. But there were significant obstacles to using it in iOS 10 because you couldn’t employ flash or filters, or shoot in High Dynamic Range (HDR) mode. All that changes in iOS 11, where Portrait Mode operation is available in conjunction with all three techniques in addition to new optical image stabilization. Only available for the Plus’s Portrait mode, iOS 11 now features optical image stabilization (OIS) in addition to HDR shooting, True Tone flash, and the bokeh effect.
Image stabilization, a prized element in standalone cameras and DSLRS, reduces the effect of camera shake for both photo and video, and boosts the range of light for acceptable photos. OIS is automatically enabled, while the HDR or flash symbol are colored yellow when activated next to the yellow Depth Effect at the top of the screen.
And, in all iPhone models, if you point your screen down, you get a level pointer to help you align a horizontal shot. You have to turn on the grid feature to see it.
New image and video formats
With iOS 11, Apple debuts two brand new mobile camera formats — HEIF (High Efficiency Image File) for photos and HEVC (High Efficiency Video Coding or H.265) for videos — that are designed to pack more pictures into your limited storage space by chopping their bulk by up to 40 percent. And all that space saving happens without sacrificing quality.
One reason for this new compression standard is that HEIF is a container rather than a file format, a standard created by the MPEG group. HEIF is the technique to compress individual frames that comprise an HEVC video, and Apple is using it to hold HEVC-compressed still images — that is, still images with video compression. It can also store multiple images, text, audio, video, depth information, sequences, which makes the format great for Live Photos and dual camera systems like iPhone 7 Plus. The current JPEG compression standard is an image format only.
HEIFs can be created with iPhones and iPads that have an A10 Fusion or newer chip, like the iPhone 7, with the results exported to all compatible devices as familiar MOV and JPEG files. If you have an iPhone 7, you can choose the new compression methods at Settings > Camera > Formats by checking the High Efficiency item. Videos will then save as HEVC MOV files, while images will be saved as HEIC as opposed to JPEG in your phone. Note that Google Photos is not supported, at least not yet.
While video aficionados may already have heard of the video-centric HEVC, which now is almost universally supported by the newest desktop video editing software, Apple has already been quietly using the tech to save on bandwidth and data for its FaceTime app since the launch of the iPhone 6.
This hidden iOS 11 function is a video creation feature, even though you don’t operate it directly from the Camera app. Just add the Screen Recording widget to Control Center to easily access it whenever you want.
With this new feature, you can record, save, and share videos of anything you are doing on your iPhone screen. These videos are great for instructions and other communications or reminders.
QR Code scans
The Camera app in iOS 11 now has its own QR-code scanner: No more searching for and downloading third-party scanners from the App Store.
The scanner is a simple, quick, and hugely functional enhancement to the Camera app with no special settings required. It just works when it senses a QR code anywhere in its focus. It scans codes from billboards, posters, and flyers, and from other mobile devices, and computer screens. The code does not have to line up perfectly in the square; instead it will scan from any angle as long as the image is visible.
Screenshot interface gets an overhaul
Screenshots of whatever’s taking place on your iPhone screen can come in handy for instructional or informational purposes. And the way you take them in iOS 11 hasn’t changed — just press the Power and Hom buttons simultaneously to create an image of the screen that will land in the Screenshot folder of your Photos app.
What you can do with the screenshot after you’ve taken it *has* changed though, as iOS 11 adds a new level of functionality. Take a screenshot in iOS 11, and a preview appears on the bottom left of the screen, lingering for several seconds. Tap and hold that thumbnail, and you can share it with another app. You can also use the assorted tools in iOS 11’s Markup feature to annotate your screenshot with the text, signature, Magnifier, and Shape tools.
If you take multiple screens in succession, they are automatically stacked and grouped together so you can drag and drop them into a custom album, email them, or even mark up each in succession before sharing them.