The iPhone as a digital camera

iPhone Photography Award 2013

If you haven't heard of iPhone Photography Award (IPPA) until now, don't worry, not many people have heard of it. It is the first and the longest running iPhone photography competition and it started 2007, the year when the first iPhone was launched. The rules are simple: the photos have to be taken using the iPhone and editing is allowed as long as it's done only on the iPhone. I was blown away by the quality of the pictures of the 2013 competition – you can check the winners here.

This competition proves something important: Apple has a very loyal user base and their love for the Apple's products can even generate events like IPPA. The only other company that I can think of which had such a loyal customer base was Saab, a car loved by its buyers for its quirkiness. We've mentioned many times before on our blog how popular the iPhone camera is. It's been the top camera on Flickr since 2007 and it's hard to think of any other camera which could take iPhone's place. I agree that there are more Android devices out there but they are part of this big fragmented family and it's hard for just one Android-based smartphone to become the most popular camera on Flickr. I love the iPhone 5 camera and every now and then I'm blown away by the quality of the pictures taken. But there's a catch: in order to take amazing pictures with the iPhone you need good lighting conditions. Recently the iPhone's had some serious competition from Nokia with the Lumia 1020, a smartphone which boasts a 41 megapixel camera and great capabilities in low light conditions (here's a review of the camera). The quality of the pictures taken with this phone is really good. Nokia also released Nokia Pro Camera app for Windows 8, which seems like a great piece of software and gives users more flexibility when taking pictures, allowing them to change advanced settings like ISO, shutter speed and exposure. The Samsung Galaxy S4 also sports a very good camera. So I hope that the iPhone 5S, scheduled for launch on 10 September, will try to match or even overtake the competition in terms of picture quality. I wish for this as I would love taking photos but I don't always have my big, chunky DSLR camera with me so I must settle for the quality of the iPhone pictures. I feel that there are only a few more steps before the differences between pictures taken with a smartphone and pictures taken with a dedicated camera become unnoticeable for an untrained eye. Apple usually responds well to competition and it seems it always have something up its sleeve, like some advanced technology which they would bring out only when they need it to overtake competitors. Now let's discuss software People love taking picture with their iPhones or even iPads. And after a short period of time you will end up with thousands and thousands of photos in your iOS library. And all of a sudden you feel the need to organise the pictures but you realise there's not much you can do on your iOS device. I get the feeling this has become an issue for Apple. We've seen the iOS 7 beta, played with it a bit and, unfortunately, there isn't much to report: we haven't noticed any major improvements of the Photos app. There are a few more ways to navigate your photo library but nothing too exciting. The Camera app has seen more improvements, for example, and it really feels much easier to use. However, I'd say there's still hope. Apple could revamp iPhoto for iOS and make it free of charge for iPhone, iPod touch or iPad owners. iPhoto for OSX, together with GarageBand, iWeb and iMovie have been offered free of charge to every Mac owner when they buy a new computer. Just imagine how useful it would be if we could use iPhoto for iOS to manage the photo library on the device itself: face detection, creating and organising albums, managing keywords and so on. And now that I think about it, iCloud's photo functionality could be improved too: I think it would be great to make iCloud sharing more like a social network – the only reason I use Facebook is to share photos with friends and family; I would immediately stop using it if iCloud would be a more universal and convenient way of photo sharing. There are already a few apps out there which could inspire Apple at improving the photo management, like Everpix or Viewfinder. We now just have to wait and hope that Apple has a few more surprises for us at the September 10 keynote. I hope to see more than just a new iPhone 5S, iPhone 5C and the new iOS 7. What's your favourite platform for photo management and photo sharing? What new photo-related feature would you like Apple to add to their products and services? Join the conversation on our Facebook page or leave your comment below.
May 07, 2014