iOS 8 packs in a bunch of great new photo features, in both the Camera app and the Photos app. You now get a lot more control over your photography at the front end, with manual exposure and even a time-lapse mode, and you can edit and find your photos with a little more precision than before.
iOS 8 is still a few months out, but you don’t have to wait: Use these currently available apps to add all these new functions to your iPhone (or iPad) today.
Manual exposure control – Mattebox
In iOS 8, a long tap on the camera screen will lock the focus on that point and give you a slider to manually adjust the exposure up and down. It’s a fantastic addition, but Mattebox not only gives you manual exposure and focus controls, it also lets you set the white balance with a single tap – an essential feature when shooting non-RAW pictures.
Mattebox’s UI is impressive too: Exposure is set with a little on-screen dial, and focus lock is done by tapping the on-screen shutter button. You can then recompose and shoot the picture by sliding the button down. Click: done. Mattebox is a universal app and costs $5.
Self-timer — KeyCam
KeyCam is a super-simple, fast-launching and reliable self-timer app for the iPhone. It opens to a five-second timer, and you just tap the big buttons to start the countdown or pick a longer (10- or 15-second) delay.
Or you can choose the clap mode, which starts the 5-second timer when you clap. I wish I could choose this as the default mode, as it’s the only one I use. You can get everything set up, then go sit with your friends and clap as often as you like, racking up pictures. The LED on the iPhone even flashes to tell you the countdown and camera are working. KeyCam is free.
Search – Photowerks
The new iOS 8 Photos app incorporates a search tool that lets you find photos based on album, place or time. Photowerks does all this and more, and even lets you save the results as smart albums so you can access them again later.
On first run, the app indexes your pictures. Then you can sort by all kinds of criteria, including date, location (city, country, state) and camera model. If you opt to make a new Smart Album, you can dial in all kinds of searches on the photos’ metadata. I just made a “day=25 AND month=12” search and called it “Christmas,” but you could also search on all pictures not taken on your iPhone in Spain, say. It’s powerful, fast and stable. It’s also just $1.
iCloud Photo Library – Flickr
The single coolest part of iOS might be iCloud Photo Library. This will keep all your photos in iCloud, ready to be viewed on your iPhone, iPad or Mac, and in the browser. Edits will propagate between the devices, and you never need to think about your pictures ever again.
Right now the best alternative looks like Flickr. Dropbox will store pictures but is terrible for viewing them, and other third-party services go out of business as fast as they launch. Flickr offers a free terabyte of storage, auto-uploads everything you take on your iDevices and ties in with a zillion other apps. Also, it has a kick-ass iOS app.
Better Editing – iPhoto
The only way to get iOS 8’s lossless editing in iOS 7 is to use iPhoto. Lossless means that the original file isn’t touched when you make edits, so you can always revert to that original at any time in the future.
In iOS 7, the only app that can make changes to the photos in your Camera Roll is iPhoto – it can even delete pictures. Any filters or other edits you apply inside iPhoto show up in the Camera Roll and vice versa, and all can be undone.
In fact, iOS 8’s new editing tools look a lot like they were lifted from iPhoto for iOS. iPhoto is $5, or free with new iOS devices.
Time-lapse – Frameographer
The new time-lapse feature in iOS 8 sits on the carousel next to the panorama, square and video tabs, and records a time-lapse photo with a single touch of the shutter. The result is an instantly made MP4 video file.
Nothing will beat that for simplicity, so why not go in the other direction? Frameographer is a stop-motion animation app, but it also has an awesome time-lapse mode, with far more features than you’ll get in Apple’s stock version. You can even add a soundtrack from your music library, and it’s still just $5.